Arsenal Managers: Steve Burtenshaw, our least successful manager

By Tony Attwood

Steve Burtenshaw was Arsenal caretaker manager between March and May 1986.  His appointment followed the resignation of Don Howe amidst rumours that he (Don) would be replaced.  Steve was himself replaced by George Graham.

His record as a manager of Arsenal was a win rate of 27.27% winning 3, losing 6 and drawing 2.

He took over after four consecutive Arsenal wins had pushed Arsenal up the table.  But Steve’s reign started with a 0-1 defeat by Tottenham, included consecutive defeats by Watford and ended with a 3-0 defeat by Oxford United.  The away match to already relegated Birmingham City which we won on May 3 was played in front of just 6,234 people.

When he arrived Arsenal were fifth in the league, but despite the poor run ended up only two places lower at 7th

Steve was born 23 November 1935 and joined Arsenal as a coach in 1971, when Don Howe went to WBA as manager and stayed for two years before resigning, seeing the club become runners up in the FA Cup and in Division 1.  Prior to this as a player he played 237 times for Brighton between 1952 and 1966.  He became a coach at Brighton upon retiring as a player.

Here is the summary of his managerial work

  • Sheffield Wednesday  Jan 1974 to Oct 1975
  • Everton 1977 (3 games as caretaker)
  • QPR 1978/79 – QPR were relegated
  • Arsenal 1986

Steve then returned to his coaching role under George Graham.  He (Steve Burtenshaw) later admitted taking a bung for signing John Jensen and was find £7,500 with £2,500 costs by the FA.  However unlike George Graham he was not sacked by the club and stayed at Arsenal until the summer of 1996 when Rioch was sacked.

But despite his long service to the club, there appears to be no information about him at all on

After leaving Highbury Steve Burtenshaw then became chief scout under Stewart Houston at QPR.  He suffered a stroke in 2001 but continued to work, joining Kevin Keegan as a scout at Manchester City in 2001, before retiring.

Analysing the success rate of managers who step in for a short while is rather invidious, and is only done on the managers analysis page for completeness.  He occupies the bottom position in the chart of all 25 Arsenal managers with a success rate of just 27.77%.  But only four men in the history of the club have managed a smaller number of games.

Latest articles:

The main series: 

3 Replies to “Arsenal Managers: Steve Burtenshaw, our least successful manager”

  1. He lost the confidence of the players and quit in September 1973.

    He joined Arsenal in October 1967, taking over as reserve team coach from Don Howe who had moved up to first team coach. He even played a couple of reserve team games when we struggled with injuries.

    After leaving Arsenal he moved to QPR as first team coach replacing Bobby Campbell who replaced Burtenshaw at Arsenal.

    Burtenshaw made QPR aware that he would only be with them until a manager’s job came up and he left for Sheffield Wednesday in January 1974.

    He returned to Arsenal in the early 1980s as assistant coach to Don Howe. When George Graham arrived he became chief scout.

  2. Read any account from youth team players who came through the ranks at Arsenal in the 1980’s and all spoke highly of Steve Burtenshaw and Terry Burton.

    When you consider that during his caretaker managership from March to May 1986, establishing themselves in the first team were Adams, Keown, Rocastle, Hayes, Quinn, Caesar, Robson and Davis, with Merson and Thomas waiting in the wings.

    All graduates of the Arsenal academy, with the values and traditions of the club running through their veins.

    Maybe it is time the club recognised the unsung achievements of Steve Burtenshaw, and others behind the scenes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *