In September 1996, David Dein convinced the Arsenal board to recruit the relatively unheard of manager Arsene Wenger from Grampus Eight. The Frenchman had worked in France and Japan before with some success, but he was up against one of football’s biggest names for the Highbury gig, none other than Johann Cruyff. Wenger eventually bagged the job and has remained in the Recaro hotseat ever since. That’s more than two decades. He’s outlasted hundreds of other managers in this country. Take Manchester City, for example…
Since Wenger’s arrival in England, City have torn through a full TWELVE different managers. That’s pretty good going, isn’t it? And with Arsenal visiting The Etihad this weekend, we thought it’d be a good time to run through them. See how many of them you remember.
(August 1996 – October 1996) When Wenger first arrived in North London, Alan ‘Bouncy’ Ball had only just left the blue half of Manchester. The squeaky-voiced one’s assistant Asa Hartford stood in as caretaker for a short while before steeping back down after eight games to return to coaching. He’d stay there as reserve team coach for another decade.
(October 1996 – November 1996) Despite appearing happy while waving a large blue flag, Steve Coppell’s extremely brief stint at Maine Road (as it was called then) was anything but happy. ‘Huge pressure’ was cited as his reason for binning off the job after just six games and thirty three days there. “I’m extremely embarrassed by the situation and I would like to apologise,” he said on leaving.
(November 1996 – December 1996) – With Coppell doing one out of the blue – quite literally – Phil Neal came in as caretaker to try and steady the ship. He didn’t manage to though, overseeing ten games with an almost impressive 70% loss rate.
(December 1996 – February 1998) Arsene Wenger had still not ordered stationery or picked a pot plant for his desk and City were appointing their fourth manager. This time on a permanent contract, Frank Clark would outlast the previous few. But not by much. City bigwig Francis Lee sacked Nottingham Forest legend Frank Clark after fourteen months of relatively uninspiring football and mediocre form. Finishing 14th in the second tier isn’t all that impressive, after all.
(February 1998 – May 2001) Big Joe was a coup for Manchester City, really. Fresh from a decent stint at Goodison Park, Royle and Everton had won the FA Cup only a couple of years before. So to take over Frank Clark’s side that were sliding (and eventually slid) into the third tier (Division 2 as it was called at the time) was a bit of a surprise to some. Royle guided City to two consecutive promotions and a place back in the Premier League. Then they got relegated and he was sacked. Tough business, football.
That first season Royle was in charge, Arsenal won their first Premier League under Wenger.
(May 2001 – March 2005) The ex-Newcastle boss left the England position with his tail between his legs somewhat. But he restored his reputation with a generally successful – and pretty lengthy – tenure at Man City. Almost four years! He oversaw a promotion, European football (via the Fair Play League) and brought some big names in. Unusually, he wasn’t sacked by the club. He retired.
During King Kev’s time, Wenger’s men bagged two Premier Leagues.
(March 2005 – May 2007) – More than two years in the job and nearly a hundred games, Psycho will tell you he was treated unfairly by the City board. But with 14th and 15th places finishes and a win percentage of just 35%, we think he’s probably wide of the mark…
In May of 2006, Arsene Wenger leads Arsenal out to a Champions League final. Defeat.
(July 2007 – June 2008) Manchester City’s first ever non-British manger came in the shape of ex-England and Lazio man, Sven. A ladies man, a studious-looking gentleman and a polite interviewee, no one disliked the man but few really felt he had the energy and verve to set about a revolution at the club. And some of his signings? Well, they were just bizarre. Geovanni, Martin Petrov, Benjani, Elano, Rolando Bianchi…
(June 2008 – December 2009) Another ex-City manager who would argue that he was unlucky. And we’d actually agree with this one. 77 games, 47% win rate. Not bad. But a run of just two wins in eleven games forced new owner Sheikh Mansour’s hand and the Welshman was out on his ear.
(December 2009 – May 2013) City’s next acquisition was a headline one. The suave and respected Roberto Mancini had been a runaway hit at Inter Milan. He was recruited by Mansour on big bucks. And in modern manager’s terms, stayed for a fairly long time. In those three and a half years he bagged a Premier League title and even saw the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. But Wigan’s shock FA Cup final win tipped the balance for the big-spending City board who showed him the door. Despite a 60% win ratio – the highest of any City manager since the ’40s.
(May 2013 – June 2013) Another short caretaker stint, this time overseen by former United type Brian Kidd. Kiddo only took two games before Mancini’s successor was appointed…
(June 2013 – June 2016) – ‘This Charming Man’ read the flags from the appreciative fans. Pellegrini was a reserved and quiet man, but he won the love of the crowd. The ex-Malaga manager bagged two league cups and a Premier League title during his spell at the club, but when Pep Guardiola became free, he knew his time was up…
Will Wenger outlast another City manager? Or is there a chance that Pep will turn City’s form around and go on to become a Wenger-style legend in Manchester? The stats say the former option, don’t they…?