The search for Arsenal’s most successful manager

By Tony Attwood

Returning to the theme of last weekend,  here is the analysis of the number of top 4 finishes achieved by managers against the number of games the managers were in charge for.

As mentioned before the “top four” notion is arbitrary, as are all other measurements – but it gives a reasonable guide to how well a manager is doing.

The list of managers is short because only those who have achieved a number that gives a meaningful number have been included.

To calculate the number I have taken the number of top four finishes (column six) and then divided that by the number of games (column four) and multiplied by 100 to give Top 4 / games (column five).  The multiplication by 100 is a device simply to make the numbers readable.  If you prefer raw numbers simply divide by 100, so Terry Neill would have 0.002





Top 4/


Top 4


Terry Neill July 1976 Dec 1983



2 1 FA Cup
George Swindin June 1958 1 May 1962




Bertie Mee June 1966 May 1976



       3 1 League   1 FA Cup    1 Fairs C.
Tom Whittaker June 1947 Oct 1956



3 2 Leagues  1 FA Cup
Herbert Chapman June 1925 Jan 1934



4 2 Leagues, 1 FA Cup
George Allison May 1934 May 1947



3 2 Leagues, 1 FA Cup
George Graham May 1986 Feb 1995



         6 2 Leagues  1 FA Cup,  2 Lg Cups

1 CWCup

Arsène Wenger October 1996  



15 3 Leagues  4 FA Cups
Joe Shaw January 1934 May 1934



1 1 League


Joe  Shaw, our ex-player from the Woolwich Arsenal days, who succeeded Herbert Chapman as manager, before graciously handing over to George Allison the following season, is the winner, because he won the league with just one half of one season.  (Herbert Chapman died half way through the season).

Of the managers who played a fair number of games the winner is… Mr Wenger, followed by George Graham.






4 Replies to “The search for Arsenal’s most successful manager”

  1. Sorry to be my usual nit picky self Tony but Terry Neil would have been 0.02 and not 0.002 but anyway my main reason for commenting was to ask why have you chosen top 4 as a measure for all managers when top 4 has not always meant what it does today? Why not top 5 or top half??

  2. As the article says, top four is arbitrary, and you would be able to say “Why top 5” or whatever, to any selection.

    The reason I wanted to go beyond the “number of championships and cups” is because I think it does give a deeper understanding to look at top 4.

    I reached this conclusion after looking across the years of Wright and Swindin, in which we not only won nothing but also came outside the top four for years on end.

    By looking at this slightly broader position I think we get a deeper feeling for what was going on in the club. There is after all a difference between coming 4th and coming 14th.

  3. OK, that’s fair enough. Just personally I would have used something like top half as the number of teams competing in the league has varied thoughout and this keeps things all relative also 3rd and 4th place didn’t always mean anything of importance.
    But I get your point!

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