On the She Wore Facebook Page, GC recently asked the question:
Could a new manager turn us around in a season, or has too much damage been done?
It is an interesting question, and one which could take some exploring.
Factors that need to be taken into account are things such as:
- What actually is “turning Arsenal around”? How do we define if a new manager has turned us around?
- Is all a new manager all that Arsenal needs to “turn around”.
I think a good starting point is to look at other managers at top 6 clubs, as to whether we think they have actually turned things round.
We start with Pep Guardiola. He has certainly turned Manchester City around. They are winning the league title at a canter this season. When he took over, Man City had just finished 4th – 15 points off top.
There is no argument that Guardiola has turned City round, but it has taken until his second season – in his first, they once again finished 15 points behind the Champions.
Guardiola has also spent close to £400m in the 18 months he has been at Manchester City, and is managing a squad that cost nearly £800m.
So if we are setting the bar At Premeir League Champions as the KPI for turning the club around in a season, is this not a little unfair, taking into account it took Guardiola 2 years and the most expensively assembled squad in football history?
Then we have Antonio Conte. He did turn things round within a single season – romping to the league title in his first season. There is no doubt he turned around a Chelsea team that were mid-table under Jose Mourinho.
But roll on 6 months and they are once again off the pace in the league, losing at home to Bournemouth and Burnley. They look a shadow of the team they were last season, Conte is on the ropes and could be out of the door.
Conte might have won the league title, and turned the club around in the short term, but he seems to have done little to address the long term issues that have been at the club for some time.
Would a new manager coming in and winning the title signify a turnaround, if the off-field problems we have had for years are still there?
Has Jose Mourinho turned Manchester United around? Last season, they won two trophies – the Europa League and League Cup – and finished 6th. Arsenal could be on for an identical set of results this year, yet we would class that as not good enough. Therefore it is impossible to say the Mourinho turned Man U around if we as fans would not be happy with an identical success.
And a year on, are United really any better? They might have gone from 6th to 2nd, but they are no more competitive in the title race than Arsenal. They will not win the league.
He has spent big on Paul Pogba, on Romelu Lukaku, over £300m spent over 18 months, nearly the same of Pep Guardiola but without the title winning team.
Reading the press, you would think Jurgen Klopp has done a great job for Liverpool. But 3 years into his job, he has still yet to win a trophy. In his first season at Liverpool, he led the team to 8th. This would represent a step backwards if Arsenal’s new manager did the same.
His next season they were 4th. 17 points behind the title. Just 1 point ahead of Arsenal. Won nothing.
If last season, when Arsenal finished 5th and with the FA Cup, was deemed a failure, surely Liverpool’s was also a failure? This season, it looks like same old, Liverpool will finish between 3rd and 6th. He has turned nothing around at Liverpool – they finished 2nd 15 months before he took over.
There is no point even discussing Spurs. The media narrative on them is that Pochettino does not need to win trophies as a sign of success. Therefore the bar for what was needed to turn Spurs around is so low, he basically needs to save them from relegation to be seen as a success.
So would a new manager at Arsenal be able to turn the club around in a season? Again the answer comes in what you think him turning the club around would be?
If a new man takes over a club who has finished 6th, but has won a few cups over the last 5 years, takes the club to 3rd, winning nothing, would that be seen as turning the club around?
What if he takes the side back into the top 4, and wins the FA Cup, would that be turning the club round?
Would it be unreasonable to expect a new manager to come in and win the league title straight away in his first season, when Guardiola has taken 2 seasons and £400m?
Even if we say “we want to compete for the title.” Had a new manager came in during the summer of 2017, we would still have been well off the incredible pace of Manchester City and Guardiola’s £800m squad. No team is within 16 points of the league leader.
Is it just the team mentality that needs to turn around? The poor defeats to Swansea, Stoke and more. But then Chelsea lost to Burnley, Newcastle United and Huddersfield have beaten Manchester United. Liverpool recently lost to Swansea City.
We set the bar high in 2004 with an unbeaten season. We can not expect to repeat this. Defeats against teams we should not lose to happen. They are part of football. If you are saying to turn around Arsenal, we don’t want to lose to the likes of Stoke / Swansea / etc then you are perhaps being unrealistic.
So to answer GC’s question as to whether a manager can turn around Arsenal in a season, you have to ask another question.
What would you class as having successfully turned Arsenal around?