Arsene Wenger Ranks Among Arsenal's 5 Greatest Managers

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

Arsene Wenger Ranks Among Arsenal's 5 Greatest Managers

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    Since Thomas Mitchell was appointed Arsenal's first professional manager in 1897, 17 other men have taken on the permanent coaching role at the London club, in addition to four caretakers.

    Current boss Arsene Wenger may not have had his hands on any silverware since the FA Cup of 2005, but the Frenchman's achievements rank him among the finest managers ever to helm the Gunners.

    In no particular order, here are B/R's five greatest Arsenal managers of all time.

Arsene Wenger

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    The "AMG" ("Arsene Must Go") faction of Gunners may be protesting his recent decline, but Wenger is the most successful permanent Arsenal manager of all time by win percentage, having claimed three points in 57.05 percent of his 900-plus matches in charge.

    Now in his 17th year with the club, Wenger is by far the longest-serving Arsenal coach, and one of its most decorated, having delivered three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and—if you're into that sort of thing—four Charity Shields.

    With limited resources, Wenger also reached the Champions League final in 2006 and has qualified for Europe's premier club competition 15 consecutive times.

Herbert Chapman

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    When journeyman forward Herbert Chapman hung up his boots, he started a managerial career that has left him recognised as one of the greatest in the English game.

    Despite being banned from football for life following his role in the dissolution of Leeds City (which became Leeds United), Chapman managed to overturn his ban to take the helm of relegation-threatened Huddersfield in 1921, which he led to a first-ever league title in 1924.

    Chapman arrived at Arsenal in 1925, delivering two league titles and an FA Cup to a side that had never won a trophy before.

    Much like Arsene Wenger, Chapman is credited with revolutionising the English game. He introduced new training techniques and tactics and helped modernize football by backing innovations like floodlighting and numbered shirts.

    Sadly, the legendary coach died of a sudden bout of pneumonia during his ninth season at Highbury.

    Alongside Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, Chapman is now immortalised by a statue outside the Emirates.

George Allison

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    When Herbert Chapman passed away in 1934, he was succeeded by George Allison, a man who had absolutely no experience managing a team, but who had provided decades of service at Arsenal (since 1906, he had been a matchday programme editor, a director, club secretary and managing director).

    In his first season in charge, Allison added a third consecutive league title to the two won by Chapman and caretaker manager Joe Shaw. He also won the FA Cup in 1936 and a further league title in 1938.

    His career was interrupted when the outbreak of World War II suspended official football competitions, but he ended his reign in 1947 with 129 wins from 279 games.

    During his early career with Arsenal, Allison was also a successful journalist, who became the BBC's first-ever sports commentator.

George Graham

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    Adored at Highbury as a player in the late 60s and early 70s, George Graham accepted the Arsenal manager's job in 1986, having guided Millwall from the bottom of the old third division to the top of the second.

    When he took charge, the Gunners hadn't won a trophy since claiming the FA Cup eight seasons earlier, and they were beginning to lose chase with the top teams (does this situation sound familiar?).

    With the likes of Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Michael Thomas and Alan Smith, Graham turned things around and ended his nine-year spate with two league titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

    When Graham was given the Arsenal job in March 1986, Arsenal's board were actually looking to appoint another young Scotsman named Alex Ferguson. However, the temporary Scotland manager wanted to wait until after the summer World Cup before deciding his future.

    How different things could have been...

Tom Whittaker

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    After breaking his kneecap during a match in Australia, Tom Whittaker became first-team trainer at Arsenal in 1927, serving under the legendary Herbert Chapman. When Chapman passed, he continued to serve under his permanent successor, George Allison.

    He was awarded the MBE for his services in the Royal Air Force during World War II and returned to civilian life with Arsenal once again, taking over as manager in 1947. He brought the London side the league title in 1948 and 1953, plus the FA Cup in 1950.

    However, Whittaker became the second Arsenal manager to die on the job, suffering a fatal heart attack in London in 1956.