Bruce Rioch’s short spell at Arsenal – comings and goings on this day

Bruce Rioch was by no means the man with the shortest spell as Arsenal manager, but most of those who have managed for a shorter period of time have done so because they were temporary appointments: James McEwen (2 games), Pat Rice (4), Freddie Ljungberg (6)…

Beyond doubt the most successful of the short term managers was Joe Shaw, who stepped in, in 1934, upon the death of Herbert Chapman, and managed the club to its second successive title by taking control for the last 23 games of the season, and getting a win rate of 60.87%.

So far Mikel Arteta has managed 28 games, winning 16, drawing 6 and losing six.  This gives him a win rate of 57.14% beaten only by Joe Shaw and Arsene Wenger (57.25%).

Unai Emery had a win rate of 55.13%, and all these figures compare with Bruce Rioch who managed the 1995/6 season with a win rate of 46.81%

In 1995 Rioch managed his first league game with Arsenal, on this day.  One year to the day later, Arsene Wenger was announced as the club’s new manager, after Rioch had overseen a disastrous pre-season, suggesting he really was utterly out of his depth.

Here are the anniversaries…

20 August 1904: George Morrell, the only manager who relegated Arsenal and who also was the first manager at Highbury, took up his first post prior to coming to Arsenal – as manager of Morton.

20 August 1913: Henry Norris used his influence as a director of both clubs to arrange for Arsenal to play a practice match at Fulham, prior to the start of the new season, as the Gillespie Road ground (Highbury) was still being built. 

20 August 1916: The Battle of the Somme film went on general release and was seen by 20 million people.  It was withdrawn after a story circulated that the dead bodies in the film were not soldiers acting dead for the movie but rather actual dead soldiers.  

20 August 1921: The traditional Blues v Reds pre-season game was played at Arsenal, and the new roof on the grandstand was unveiled.  10,000 were recorded as present, including Sir Henry Norris, Charles Crisp and William Hall.

20 August 1923: Athletic News ran its preview of the season, including in the list for Arsenal players Midge Moffatt, who had played on the summer tour.  But he had both Baker and Rutherford ahead of him and seemed unlikely to be getting a game.

20 August 1924: The annual report of Arsenal FC showed that the club had improved financially having debts which together were less than in previous years: an overdraft of £3423, and money owed to various creditors totalling £8106.  Norris’ vision of a debt free Arsenal was coming to fruition.

20 August 1938: Debut of Bryn Jones in a friendly v Tottenham.  Arsenal lost 0-2.  The mantle of the world’s most expensive player did not sit easily on his shoulders, but it was ultimately the war that stopped him showing his promise. The attendance was 41,997.

20 August 1949: Arsenal’s two-times manager Stewart Houston born in Dunoon.  He played for Chelsea, Brentford, Man U, Sheffield Utd and Colchester Utd before becoming assistant manager to George Graham in 1990.

20 August 1955: Having moved from Arsenal, Ben Marden played his first game for Watford and immediately scored two goals.  He had played 42 games for Arsenal and went on to play 41 for Watford, scoring 11 for each club.

20 August 1960: Alan Skirton played his first Arsenal league game – a 3-2 away defeat to Burnley.  It is said that he was offered the chance to play for both Arsenal and Chelsea but chose Arsenal because they had a reputation for helping to train players for their career after football. 

20 August 1966: Bertie Mee’s first game in charge – Sunderland 1 Arsenal 3.  Skirton scored two and Armstrong the third.  Mee won his first three games, but then none of the next seven.

20 August 1968: Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to put down a pro-democracy movement.

20 August 1971: Manchester Utd 3 Arsenal 1, in front of just 27,649.  The game was played at Anfield with Man United banned from playing their first two home matches anywhere at all within Greater Manchester, after their fans had thrown objects, believed to be knives, into the away section at a match at the end of 1970/71 season.  

20 August 1973: Continuing the long association of Arsenal and Rangers (who at this time still owned shares in Arsenal) – Rangers 1 Arsenal 2 in the Rangers centenary match.  George and Radford scored.

20 August 1977: Pat Jennings first game for Arsenal – a 0-1 defeat to Ipswich.  Arsenal won only four out of the first ten games, but Jennings kept his place and played all 55 league, league cup and FA Cup matches that season.

20 August 1995: Arsenal 1 Middlesbrough 1. Bruce Rioch’s first game. Arsenal went seven games undefeated at the start of the season, but in the complete season won 17 of their 38 league games and scored just 49 league goals. 

20 August 1995: The European Court of Justice ruled that in a case brought by Jean Marc Bosman players should be able to move freely within the European Union at the end of a contract without any fee needing to be paid.  It took another five months for the EU to lay down the definitive statement that football transfer rules in general did not comply with EU freedom of movement.

20 August 1996: Totally caught off guard by the appointment of Arsenal’s new manager the Evening Standard ran the headline “Arsène  who?” 

20 August 2003: Jermaine Pennant loaned for the season to Leeds Utd.  He played 36 times for Leeds and scored 2 goals.   Also  Dennis Bergkamp’s first match for Arsenal. He played 33 league games in this first season with the club, scoring 11 goals

20 August 2008: Arsenal signed Mikaël Silvestre from Manchester United.  He was the first Man U player to join Arsenal since Brian Kidd in 1974 .  At 31 he put the lie to the “Wenger never signs or keeps players over 30″ story, but despite all the constant  evidence to the contrary from Bergkamp onwards the press still continued to run it.

20 August 2011: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2.  All in all it was a very disappointing start to the season with two draws in the Emirates Cup, a defeat in a friendly to Benfica and then just two victories in the first seven games.

20 August 2012: Arsenal announced the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona.  He had played 143 league games and scored seven goals.  He later went on loan to West Ham.

20 August 2015: Wellington Silva loaned to Bolton Wanderers for the season.  It was his sixth loan; he played 22 times and scored two goals.

20 August 2016: Having lost the opening match at home to Liverpool, Arsenal drew away to champions Leicester as anti-Wenger “fans” undertook a co-ordinated protest which gave Leicester renewed hope of snatching a victory close to the end.

The Arsenal History Society is part of the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association – a body which gives positive support to the club, and has regular meetings with directors and senior officials of the club to represent the views of its members to the club.  You can read more about AISA on its website.

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100 Years in the First Division: the absolute complete story of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919.


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