Arsenal: Mentioned in Despatches


@GoonerReverend puts his head above the parapet

We won’t be taking It to the Max

There is a lot of talk about the succession at Arsenal. Wenger has supposedly signed his last contract and will be departing the Arsenal shores in May 2019. The King is dead long live the King. Arsenal fans as with everything are divided on the subject of Wenger and a possible new manager. On one hand you have the loyalist a supposed band of deluded, out of touch and mentally backwards supporters desperate to see Wenger re-instated no matter what the cost. On the other side of the coin you have the self-titled ‘enlightened ones’ the intellegensia of the Arsenal fan base who have every answer to every question regarding the running of the Arsenal football club no matter what their true station is in life.

This of course makes for fascinating back copy on the ongoing saga that is the Arsenal football club. Like Jason and his Argonauts some believe that by simply vanquishing the old zipper failure and replacing him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Leonardo Jardim it will immediately cure all of Arsenal problems. In turn the ever-present fan dissatisfaction will be swept aside in big Moses style and we will instantly be in the mix to win the Premier League and Champions League titles. Other less devout outers maintain once the current dictator has been removed from power and the Arsenal board do the most un-Arsenal board thing ever and appoint a world class manager with a bottomless pit of check book moolah he will still need time to settle in to the demands of the Premier League and more importantly fix all of the major issues at the club caused by that destroyer of football clubs Arsene Wenger. Loyalists argue that if Wenger is in fact so inept and clueless then any manger should be able to come in and immediately improve Arsenal’s current position winning both the PL & CL at a canter. The truth is somewhat different to what some of the more radical fans on both sides believe. We have all seen the recent comings and goings in the backroom at Arsenal which many of the more astute observers believe is the start of the succession planning for when Arsenal’s greatest ever manager finally hangs up his sleeping bag coat & moves on to National team football. The PL is littered with the wreckage of former managerial flavours of the month who have one good season and then are sacked the next term without as much as a bye your leave only to try and resurrect their careers at a lesser club and in lesser league. The hardest thing to maintain in the PL is consistency, just ask Moyes, Van Gael, Koeman and Laudrup etc:

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Remember those halcyon days when Owen Coyle was the saviour of Burnley and then moved up to Bolton and some Arsenal fans were calling for him to take over from Wenger just before he got Bolton relegated and then disappeared from the scene as most favoured son. In fact, our wonderful fans switch from one flavour of the month to the next as easy as you might when choosing between a cappuccino or latte at your local coffee shop. Now I’m not accusing some of our more easily influenced fan base of being fickle but you have to laugh at some of the more recent suggestions regarding the type of new manager we should be looking for. I am of course referring to those 2 beacons of football enlightenment Mauricio Pochettino manager of Power shift Utd and Marco Silva manager of Cajones FC. These two managers are glorious examples of fan fickledom and if they could only live up to the hype then maybe they would be in with a shout but likely as not they might not be in their current positions next season such is the demand for stability in the PL these days. Now I know that we are a club in crisis and that our manager and board could not run a piss up in a brewery. There are far more intelligent and qualified people both in the press and on social media who could easily turn Arsenal’s current squad in to world beaters if only someone would listen to them. Just ask the Daily Mirror’s John Cross, he has all the answers as does that beacon of truth Piers Morgan. ‘Friends, countrymen & Arsenal fans lend me your ears’.

Common sense and the history of decision making by the Arsenal powers that be should tell us all that Arsenal will not be appointing an Allegri, Simeone or Jardim as the next Arsenal manager because that is simply not who we are or what we do. If we were playing managerial poker then I’ll raise you a Dyche or van Bronkhorst over your Allegri or Jardim and id win because we are a bigger chance of appointing a manager like Sean Dyche, Giovanni van Bronkhorst or Eddie Howe than we are some big-name coach from Juventus, Atletico or Monaco. I am certainly not saying that the trio of Dyche, van Bronkhorst and Howe are the only ones in the mix what I am saying is this is the type of manager Arsenal will look at as a replacement for Wenger. The structure at Arsenal throughout our history has been about stability. Ever since our 1st permanent manager Thomas Mitchel was appointed in 1897 we have only had 21 permanent managers in 120 years with one unknown taking charge for a few months in 1898, Steve Burtenshaw taking charge for a few months in 1986 and Stewart Houston and Pat Rice taking the reins for a couple of months in 1996. If you take out Wenger’s current tenure that’s an average of almost 5 years per manager in just under 100 years of football and not 1 big managerial name amongst them. Based on current statistics the PL manager lasts an average of 2 years and 7 days in the job so based on all of this data what makes Arsenal fans think that AFC PLC is suddenly going to change a 120 years of modus operandi just because a group of fans are screaming for it on their YouTube channel. ‘It isn’t going to happen’. The Arsenal board will select someone like a van Bronkhorst or Eddie Howe because they believe he will embody everything they believe in regarding the running of the football side of the club.

They will want a manager that is level headed and not over emotional or temperamental. In short, they won’t want someone who is hard to deal with like a Conte or Mourinho and who will not cause unnecessary chaos and trouble for the club and they certainly won’t be spending half a billion pounds on new players either. Whether you like or not or even believe it the traditions at Arsenal are set in stone and are the foundation of the running of the club. Even though the ownership and board have changed significantly over the years these founding principles have not and are not likely too either so you can run your social media campaigns and hold up your bits of A4 at the ground or even froth at the mouth in inarticulate rage on YouTube but I think you can take it to the bank that we won’t be taking it to the Max we will in fact be doing what we always do and that is playing it safe.



38 comments on “Arsenal: Mentioned in Despatches

  1. A really classy Post. Thank you.

    Soething that caught my eye was the section regarding the type of manager who is likely to replace AW when he does ride off into the sunset. You said that AFC had never appointed a big star-type manager in the last 100 years, and for most of us there is no way we could give a personal testimony for anyone outside the fairly recent past.

    That’s a longwinded way of saying that I think there may well have been one in Herbert Chapman. At the time he had the reputation for being a highly successful and influential manager who introduced innovative far reaching tactical changes, and if he had not died at the early age of 56 he may have gone from being possibly the greatest manager of the 20th century to being definitely the greatest manager.

    He was much wanted in the 1920s by a number of clubs, but chose to manage Arsenal and changed our history, making our club one of the elite for ever.

    But I do understand what you were saying, that Arsenal do not chase after the latest flavour of the month, but like our recent captures fro Barca and Dortmund, we will recruit hard working successful people who do their work quietly and successfully in the relative shadows.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What isn’t given enough consideration ids the playing style. This has become a massive selling point for AFC, and any manager will have to have a good bit of swash in his buckle. It matters not what experts think AFC should change, the playing style will not be one of the casualties.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I agree with the sentiment PG, but I think that the playing style might change from time to time because of a number of factors.

    For example, AW had a vision of attacking football, which backed up with players of exceptional ability reaped rich dividends for us (the club) and catapulted us to the top of the tree, in an exhilarating and entertains manner. And long may that continue.

    However, George Graham, faced with inheriting players who were not as gifted as (say) the Invincibles team members, adopted a playing style based not on a ‘Wengerian attack’ philosophy but on a pragmatic and very successful defence first strategy of playing, where the success of the team working primarily defensively together was far greater than the individual abilities of the members of those teams.

    I guess what I am alluding to, is that the players available dictate, to a certain extent, the manner of play that has enabled the club to achieve success in different eras.
    Not that a particular playing style can ignore the need for both defence and attack competence.

    [I’ll get me coat]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. And what I’m saying is the “brand” is far more important now than it was. Wengerball is “the brand” on which the club has been built.we have grown massively without winning the big trophies, And IMO that is down to the attractive playing style and ethos. It is simply too valuable an asset to be pushed aside.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Giovanni van Bronkhorst
    Actually ticks most of the boxes
    Excellent tactical and multi-positional player.
    Played for big clubs
    1998–2001 Rangers 73 (13)
    2003–2007 Barcelona 105 (5)
    1993–1998 2007–2010 Feyenoord 191 (30)
    Played for The Arsenal 2001–2003 42 (2)

    KNVB Cup: 1994−95, 2007−08


    Scottish Premier League: 1998−99, 1999−2000
    Scottish Cup: 1998−99, 1999−2000
    League Cup: 1998


    Premier League: 2001−02
    FA Cup: 2002−03
    FA Community Shield: 2003


    La Liga: 2004–05, 2005−06
    Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006
    UEFA Champions League: 2005−06


    FIFA World Cup: 2010 – Runner’s Up Medal
    European Football Championship semi-finalist: 2000, 2004

    Captained the best Dutch team of the 21st century
    1996–2010 Netherlands 107 (6)
    His playing career had great sucess he seemed to have excellent timing in his moves (You gotta have vision)
    Started out as
    2010–2011 Netherlands U21 (assistant manager)
    2011–2015 Feyenoord (assistant manager)
    2015– Feyenoord
    Feyenoord defending champions in his third full season as boss are(A team nowhere near as well funded as Barca even in country comparisons)
    Feyenoord’s first major trophy since 2008 in his first season
    Feyenoord won their first Eredivisie title since 1999 in his second.
    A fewstruggles this season which will test him,but the team are holding in 7th at the moment.
    I am not Giovanni van Bronkhorst’s agent, but it seems a impressive resume,the sort you look for in an ideal world.
    As Arsenal fans know he has fire in his belly it may not be always obvious but that is what you want from an Arsenal manager.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Herbert wasn’t really a big name he caught the eye because he was successful in a relatively small group after the 1st world war. Banned from all football for taking bribes at Leeds City and later reinstated upon appeal but his team Leeds City were disbanded that’s why he went to Huddersfield and had some success. From there its all History


  7. And I can certainly agree with your clarification @ 9:45, PG, and amen to that.

    We have one of the biggest fan bases throughout the world, only Barça, Real, Manure and ‘Pool who are ahead of us. (I can rely on Eddie to correct me, if that is not spot on). lol

    Liked by 1 person

  8. WwwB,

    That is an impressive CV for GvB.

    I am not really a fan of managers who show they have ‘fire in their bellies’ if that means they are loud mouth, exhibitionists who sadly are two a penny in football; as are the sly, scheming, eye gouging managers, one of whom may be visiting us tomorrow.

    The cool, calm, and collected professional demeanour of AW is much more to my liking, and he has plenty of publicaly understated, but all consuming passion for the Arsenal, without the screaming bawling theatrics of some, so another like him (probably impossible) would be my choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Succession planning, of course. Very good articles, GRev. Thanks.

    Well done Arsenal.

    I’m maybe silly, but I’d like Arsène to carry on. Such a pleasure.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. pedantic george
    I like Arteta also ,but I think it is too early for him .
    He is better off staying with Pep for another year, then take a high profile U23 or U18 team.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. the ’91 AFC team under GG were known for their attacking flair.

    Before my time but this is what the Elders told us.

    And listening to Limpar and Davis talk and discuss that team and the transition to the mid-nineties squad it reasonable to conlcude that GG made a choice to change styles and freeze out certain players or to flog them on (out of respect for GG we won’t mention the brown envelopes but I can refer you to Limpar’s distress, still in evidence from his interviews, at that move).

    The change in players was not forced upon him. No one put a gun to his head and said you have to sell Limpar or the club goes under, no one forced him to select Hillier over Davis or to relegate Davis to the reserve team for telling him that his players didn’t like the change in style. It’s just how it went. I’m happy that Hillier had his chance and is now one of the more entertaining commentators, but no one should pretend or infer that his selection ahead of the title winning midfield general who complained to GG on behalf of the rest of the squad about his choice to change style was anything else other then GG’s personal choice.

    GG never went on to win another league title. Though of course if those were your earliest years as an AFC fan they were also memorable, who can forget the Andy Linighan cup final?
    Though none of those cup finals can compare in stature to the pasting of the title winning petro-club last May, up there with the very best results for AFC in cup finals. A result that certainly put the ‘PR’ surrounding the club into context.


  12. Safe to conclude (after what happened with GG) that Fat Sam, Moyes, Pulis, Hughes, Fat Sam, Pardew, and chums will not be called for an interview if they put their names forward.

    Not unless the Friends of the ASB, the people who not at all pay money to one or two blaggers, the ‘Investors’ who ended up going to Everton after failure in N5, not unless these masterbrains as witnessed at Everton manage to get their mingin’ mitts into the greatest football club in England.
    Which is one reason why the earnest critics of AFC never ever discuss the Handover of the club to the current owner and the deathbed haggle. They’ve only had a decade or so, but none of the Experts appear to be interested in that significant story.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fins
    There is a lot of re-imagining of history going in the world at the moment. Some of the dross I have been hearing from fans who are old enough to know (if they were really there) what is was like watching Arsenal between 1970-1996.
    To say the last 13 years is the worst they can remember just makes me think they are looking for clicks or followers of agitated and self entitled on websites or twitter.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I think that if Howe keeps delivering at Bournemouth and keeps them in the P L he will be the next Arsenal manger. I know many of you will disagree but its no secret that Gazidis and Co like him and they will see him as a safe pair of hands who can grow into the job.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. interesting post. and interesting list of possible successor of our great manager in maybe, 2029/30 season. but sean dyche? no no no. i cant imagine an aesenal manager shouting at the top of his voice on the sideline at nketia or whoever it is then ‘BE STRONG! BE STRONG!! BE STRONG!!!. never.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. A logical and well thought out argument, well that won’t be welcomed in many circles.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Firstly just as Arsene inherited a great back five GG inherited a wealth of youth players developed by Don Howe. GG had the option to play more attacking football with Rocky, Davis and Thomas all excellent technicians but choose not to eventually leading to Micheal Thomas saying he had to leave because he kept seeing the ball flying over his head. It’s a great shame that a player who scored such an iconic goal has more affiliation with Liverpool than with us.
    Don’t get me wrong at the time GG was a hero of mine but you look back you can see some of the major mistakes he made and then going to the scum finished it off for me.
    As far as people taking over concerned it’s guesswork TBH although I am looking forward to a certain Robert Pires moving further and further up the coaching ladder and he knows the players inside out already.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. All valid points my friend & the most important point is only one person knows who is taking over & his name is Stan

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I think Graham’s change of style was in part due to the maverick style of Mr Ian Wright who according to Allan Smith never did as he was told on match day but of course could score a goal from nowhere. Thus we became a team who might win a cup.


  20. Thank you for this really interesting post. I would be delighted if we appointed Eddie Howe in the fullness of time – but hope it is not for another three years at least.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Was JW sent on loan to scout him out?!

    The generous odds are that if he is appointed and branded teh Chosen One (now excelling at Wet Spam) then his first act will be to not award the highest paid contract in the history of the sport to a semi-retired athlete who’d been dropped by the previous manager after a poor spell of training and for eating too many pies.

    Whilst we are, very much, dealing with the topic of the dodgy geezah’s and their excessive influence on the sport, well, i for one am very glad I follow a club that doesn’t steal or launder money on behalf of crooks:


    “A bungled process”
    Must be a typo, I think that they meant to write,
    “A bung led process”

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Although we (AFC) have had spells as league leaders and winners in our Pre-AW history, we haven’t had a spell as consistent as we have under AW. When I started following the club (69/70 season) we were known as a cup team that had the occasional league triumph, but everyone knew we’d be mid-table (ok 7th or 8th even) within the next 5 years. Basically AW has improved the stature of the club within the game by leaps and bounds. None of our supporters in the 70s/80s would have imagined we’d have been as consistent (although equally they’d have expected an FA Cup win earlier than 2014 and A league win since 2004 but only 1 or 2 at best).
    So I don’t think we can rely on our previous history quite as much as you do.
    When GG came in we were in a corner where both our recent honours and our squad were (at best) OK to poor, so he came in with the job of stabilising the ship. I don’t believe either the board or the supporters would have been happy with the ‘one-nil to the Arsenal’ approach if he’d been following any previously successful Arsenal team.
    Now we’re consistently a Top Team (even with a 5th place league finish), the club feels that it’s obligated to try to play attacking/entertaining football.
    Burnley can go away to Everton with the aim of a 0-0 draw (with the chance of grabbing a win), but we can’t think that way except against the top 2 or 3 when we play them at their place. So IMO ‘Style of play’ will be a very major part of choosing the next manager.
    Equally, although we haven’t brought in a big name manager since HC, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit for us to do that now we’re consistently eating at the top table.
    They won’t be after a manager that buys a new team to get success but there are a few out there that can massage the existing squad (with the addition of 1 or 2) into their own team.
    On top of this, I’d guess that the board understand that managing a national team has little relevance to running a club team, so previous successful club management will probably be quite an important part of a new managers CV.
    Will that happen, I’ve no idea, and anyone that’s certain about this is just guessing.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England

    Lucklily i’d made England my favourite for the WC ahead of this favourable draw (an easier group?), not sure if Pananma or Tunisia are currently at Iceland’s lofty level but England should be able to get through this group.


  24. I’ve upset the big hitters on twitter.
    Follow Follow @arseblog
    Replying to @arseblagger @gunnerblog and 8 others
    Well, the other thing you could do is go fuck yourself. I’m ok with either.
    8:36 AM – 1 Dec 2017

    Liked by 5 people

  25. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

    The spam filter appears to have been misbehaving today. I am back at my desk now and will rummage with it. I apologise to posters who have been inconvenienced.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m not sure we’re opposed to hiring big name managers. Wasn’t Johann Cruyff supposed to be the guy we were chasing before Wenger was appointed?

    The game has changed, and above all, Arsenal have changed thanks to Wenger. We should not look to replicate the success that Wenger has brought us, but build on it. I think it is unlikely we’ll bring in a manager like Wenger again.

    The way I see it the next Arsenal manager will have to follow on playing a similar type of passing/attacking football, be able to coach and improve players on the training field (especially young players), and also must have the experience and gravitas to command respect from players at the top of their profession. In addition, he would need to be able to deal with the demands of representing a global brand with the class that is highly valued by the club.

    Maybe Howe can step up from Bournemouth, but considering his lack of experience, he would have to prove himself to be an exceptional coach. Are they really that well coached? I’m not so sure. Dyche’s teams may be well coached but no way that brand of coaching will be viewed favourably at Arsenal. We may not sign a big name, but I am quite sure we will look for someone with the experience of dealing with/commanding the respect of top players from all over the world. Zidane is hardly a great coach, but has the name to command respect from his players, and that counts for a lot when you have a squad of that sort. We may not be as overpowered as Madrid, but we have a lot of pulling power. I find it unlikely that we’d be able to sell the best and upcoming talent to come and play for us if they don’t have a coach with a track record they can get behind. We can’t sell the idea of consistency to a guy who doesn’t believe in the coach in the first place. Coaching and recruitment is also a competition at the highest level. I don’t think we’ll be appointing a relative novice if and when Wenger goes. Not if we’re planning on having a manager who actually contributes to, rather than simply executes a philosophy fed to him by the board and the backroom staff.

    Arsenal are a traditional club, and part of that tradition is moving forward. We’re not going to do the same things we’ve always done and that’s a good thing as long as we do it while respecting the values that the club and Wenger especially often talk about.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I had enjoyed the thought that Juup Heynckes could have been tempted out of retirement for a medium length spell, before he had to go sort out the mess that Young Pep left at Munchen.

    Juup’s Munchen team played even better football then Young Pep’s Barcelona? At least that was my own feeling or impression. Certainly those who came after couldn’t get the same squad to play as well.


  28. HenryB I am late to the game today, but I see Fins and Ian have already said much of what I would in response to your post. GG in his first number of years at AFC had an attacking team, that played fine football, the list of flair players included, Nicholas, Rocastle, Merson, Limpar, Marwood, Davis, Thomas. I seen some suggest that it was the bringing in of Ian Wright, another flair player, that changed us to the 1-0 to the Arsenal side that GG was famed for. But for me the change of style occurred after our European Cup defeat at home to Benfica, it was after it that GG turned us into a cup team, he actually built a team and a system that could very well have won the big eared cup if we had been able to win the league to get into it, he managed to win the second european trophy, the Cup winner Cup, and after he was sacked his squad went on to reach the final again, only to lose. The brilliant flair midfield of Thomas, Davis, Limpar and Rocastle were all dumped in favor of Hillier, Jensen, McGoldrick, and putting Campbell out wide

    Liked by 2 people

  29. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff
    Nov 30

    Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in 50% of their PL games (7 from 14). It is their highest rate at this stage of a season since 1998/99. #afc

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I don’t think George ever made a conscious decision to move Arsenal to being a Cup team. When he joined us a Cup was about the height of our ambition.

    He built a good side and brought in the crop of good youngsters, got rid of a few oldies and wasters, and won two League titles. He bought some excellent players who served the club many years after he was sacked.

    He just could not keep it up, like most managers he galvanised the squad for a few seasons but his fire faded.

    A Cup team – I hope not !

    Liked by 2 people

  31. As for the next AFC manager ?

    Put a shilling on the current Nagoya Grampus 8 head coach – the legendary Yahiro Kazama

    Yahiro who ?

    Liked by 2 people

  32. As excited and wide eyed as I was by the big money signings of Stephan Schwartz and John Jensen (Euro hero!) the football was not at the same level produced by the slightly earlier squad that lost only one match on the way to winning a title. Evidentially.

    Graham was under no pressure to sell. That’s a consideration that might still linger up in the boardroom (if you’ve ever wondered why AFC use a barge pole to try and steer clear of third party owners, you don’t need acess to a crystal football in order to compose an answer). And it also helps to explain why the club chose to stay off the merry go round and kept the same trusted employee for twenty years, bucking a noticable trend. I.E.: not without Reason.

    Half that squad, or more, had been developed by Pat Rice, and it was Pat Rice who was lifting the trophies a few seasons later, with significant personal input, again, who stayed at the club till retirement. Legend. And yes, a real life Hero.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. anicol I don’t think GG made a conscience decision to make us a cup team, I think he tried to make us a European Cup winning team, the defeat to Benfica led to him deciding that expansive football would not win it for us, and a team harder to beat and more pragmatic would win it, problem was he was unable to get in it to win it when he had made the team, it did bring us each of the cups we were in, League Cup, FA Cup and Cup winners cup.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. on the subject of GG selling the “wasters” when he arrived, he explained that the reason was all financial, some of the senior members of the squad were on massive contracts, (woodcock, marriner let go right away, sansom and anderson also let go over wage demands) and he was told he had to cut expenses, but he also threw the baby out with the bath water, as he reneged on a promise by Don Howe to increase Martin Keown’s contract by £50 a week, and this led to MK leaving the club, think a tribunal set the fee at £200K, we ended up paying £2M to buy him back a few years later.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. eduardo

    Did Martin Keown nearly swerve off the road when GG offered him that contract?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. new post up


  37. Great post. Not sure who the next man will be , but get the distinct feeling Arteta will play a major part in our future


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