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Herbert Chapman dies: 6 January

By Tony Attwood

Herbert Chapman made Arsenal – of that there can be no doubt.  And therefore you won’t be surprised to find more articles about Chapman on this site than any other manager.

The index to the Herbert Chapman articles shows just how much work we have put into this project, analysing his style of play, the players he bought and how he worked.

But this is no mere idolisation of the man, for the articles seek to uncover and separate the myths from the truths.

Some are easy: Chapman did not change the name of the club.  Some are more complex – such as the problem he had with goalkeepers.

He suffered as Mr Wenger suffered, from the antics of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal – known in those days as the boo-boys, and he suffered at the hands of lower league clubs – most notoriously losing at Walsall in his last ever FA Cup match for Arsenal.

As we note elsewhere, when Herbert Chapman became manager he took over a club that was by any definition of the phrase “in crisis” as this table taken from one of our articles on Chapman shows:

Season Manager League position FA Cup* Opponent’s league
1923/4 Knighton 19th ** 2nd  (Luton) 3rd division S
1924/5 Knighton 20th 2nd (West Ham) 1st division
1925/6 Chapman 2nd 6th (Swansea) 3rd division S
1926/7 Chapman 11th Final (Cardiff) 1st division
1927/8 Chapman 10th S-F (Blackburn) 1st division
1928/9 Chapman 9th 6th (Aston V) 1st division
1929/30 Chapman 14th Won (Huddersfield) 1st division
1930/1 Chapman 1st 4th Chelsea 1st division

* Until 1924/5 all First Division sides entered at the First Round.  In 1925 this was changed so that the First Division entered at the Third Round stage

** The 21st and 22nd clubs in the League were relegated.

Clearly we can see that it took Chapman six years to win the league, but he had an immediate impact, taking the club to an unprecedented 2nd in the league in his first season, and the first ever cup final in the second.

Even more remarkably at the start Chapman used much the same team as he inherited from Knighton – even bringing one player back whom Knighton had let go into retirement.  The parallels with Mr Wenger are amazing.

If we continued Chapman’s career we see both this point and the rest of his achievements:

 

Season Manager League position FA Cup* Opponent’s league
1925/6 Chapman 2nd 6th (Swansea) 3rd division S
1926/7 Chapman 11th Final (Cardiff) 1st division
1927/8 Chapman 10th S-F (Blackburn) 1st division
1928/9 Chapman 9th 6th (Aston V) 1st division
1929/30 Chapman 14th Won (Huddersfield) 1st division
1930/1 Chapman 1st 4th Chelsea 1st division
1931/2 Chapman 2nd Final ( Newcastle) 1st division
1932/3 Chapman 1st 3rd (Walsall) 3rd division N
1933/4 Chapman/Shaw 1st 6th (Aston Villa) 1st division
1934/5 Allison 1st 6th (Sheff W) 1st division

 

If we include 1933/4 – the season in which he so tragically died – we would have a total of 3 championships, two runners-up, one FA Cup, and two runner’s up.

The Arsenal History Society has made its own mark on remembering Herbert Chapman – aside from what must now be the biggest index of articles and analyses ever assembled on the man.   In 2011 I attended a meeting with other AISA committee members, with Ivan Gazidis, the club’s CEO and proposed a statue of Herbert Chapman for all fans to see.

In 2012 it was erected – along with the statues of Tony Adams and Thierry Henry.   I have to say I am proud of this site, and I am proud to have suggested the statue idea, and I am delighted that the club took the idea up.

I do hope you enjoy all our articles on the Chapman Years, even though on this sad day we recall his passing.

3 comments to Herbert Chapman dies: 6 January

  • kehine fela ibrahim

    He his our best ever Manager

  • Trym Vestland

    I saw a long documentary about Arsenal FC some years ago, i learned a lot more about Chapman then, thrue legend and its good he has he`s own statue outside The Emirates… Today we will beat Swansea and progress in the FA Cup, i just pray we have a bit of luck with us and win the competition, Arsenal need a trophy again too restore the belief and ones again place ourself at top of europeen football! COYG 🙂

  • Arsenal1Again

    It was seeing Chapman’s name which made me skid to a halt after a handbrake turn and accelerate back.

    If Wenger retired in 2005 he could have attained the same status as Chapman, but almost 8 seasons of winning nothing and being remembered for selling our best players every season is going to be his lot. Especially now it has been more consecutive seasons without a trophy than the string of succesful years he had. Fans will see the second half of his reign as the recession years. He is now like Gordon Brown with the Election looming. Many remembering when life was more peachy with him and Blair but most of us thinking a change might be for the best. As far as I am concerned, the board became defunct when Dein was ousted. This in turn had a knock on effect with Wenger who no longer had somebody in the boardroom fighting his cause. Then came Kroenke who only had the voices of the dysfunctional board to listen to and still listen to. I think David Dein in the ear of Kroenke would have good. I don’t think Pires and Henry would have been sold, or Fabregas. I think Flamini. and Nasri would still be here and I think Pepe Reina would have been here for years now along with David Villa after Euro ’08.

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