From Sam Hollis to Unai Emery - know more about Arsenal's managers.
Sam Hollis was appointed ‘secretary-manager’ of Arsenal in 1894. He was the first individual to be placed in charge of team affairs. Prior to his appointment, the team had been managed by a committee of players and club members. Hollis spent three years at the club during which time the club remained mid-table in the second division. He moved on to Bristol City in the summer of 1897.
Thomas Brown Mitchell (33 games as manager)
Thomas Brown Mitchell was our first professional manager, joining the club in 1897. A Scotsman from the Dumfries area, Mitchell moved south of the border around 1867 and held the title of secretary at Blackburn Rovers for approximately 12 years. He spent less than a season with us but in that time, managed to guide the club through three FA Cup qualifying rounds before succumbing to Burnley in the first round proper. He also took the club from 10th to fifth place in the league before resigning in March 1898. Mitchell later rejoined Blackburn, where he passed away in August 1921, aged 78.
William Elcoat 1898 - 1899 (25 games as manager)
William Elcoat, like his predecessor Thomas Brown Mitchell, only remained at the club for one season. Elcoat, who hailed from Stockton-on-Tees, showed a strong preference for players north of the border as illustrated by him having eight Scotsman in his first team at one stage. We finished seventh under his leadership but as the league had been increased to 18 teams, it was on par with the previous season. We were heavily beaten by Derby in the first round proper of the FA Cup having been given a bye to that stage. He passed away in Stockton-on-Tees in 1929, aged 65.
Harry Bradshaw (189 games as manager)
Harry Bradshaw took over the reigns from George Elcoat and in the space of five years, transformed the fortunes of the club. Regarded as our first successful manager, Bradshaw built his reputation at Burnley from 1891 to 1899 and was a clever tactician, guiding Arsenal to a top-three finish in the league in 1902/03. Bradshaw moved on to Fulham and later became secretary of the Southern League before his death in 1924.
Phil Kelso (152 games as manager)
Phil Kelso was a hard, rugged Scot who was a coach at Hibernian, before taking over as manager of newly-promoted Woolwich Arsenal from 1904 until 1908. Kelso guided the club to two consecutive last-four finishes in the FA Cup but did not make much progress in the league. After leaving us, he returned briefly to Scotland to run a hotel in Largs, before becoming manager of Fulham in 1909. He stayed with the west London outfit for 15 years before his death in 1935, aged 64.
George Morrell (291 games as manager)
George Morrell was manager of Woolwich Arsenal from 1908 to 1915, and oversaw the club’s move from Plumstead in south-east London, to Highbury in north London. Morrell was forced to sell many of his best players but still guided the team to sixth in the league in his first season. Unfortunately, he holds the distinction of being our only manager to have experienced relegation; Woolwich Arsenal dropped from the First Division to the second after finishing bottom in 1913. But Morrell's side finished fifth in the Second Division in 1915 - high enough to get them elected back into the top flight.
Leslie Knighton (268 games as manager)
Leslie Knighton was appointed manager in 1919, following stints as an assistant manager at Huddersfield Town and Manchester City. He was in charge for six years, but we never finished higher than 10th, coming 20th in 1924/25. Knighton was sacked at the end of that season, and was replaced by the legendary Herbert Chapman. After leaving the club, Knighton went on to manage Bournemouth, Birmingham City and Chelsea.
Herbert Chapman (403 games as manager)
Sheffield-born Herbert Chapman not only established us as English football’s dominant force, but his concepts and ideas served as a template for teams and managers the globe over. He managed Leeds City and Huddersfield Town before taking over at Highbury, where he introduced the 3-3-4 or ‘WM’ formation, winning the FA Cup in 1930 and the First Division title, scoring a club record 127 goals in 1930/31. He won a second league title two years later before his tragic, sudden death in 1934, aged 55. A bronze bust of Chapman stands inside Highbury as a tribute to his achievements at the club, and there is a statue of him outside Emirates Stadium.
George Allison (279 games as manager)
George Allison was born in Darlington and was a journalist before moving to London in 1905. He became Woolwich Arsenal’s programme editor, and later commentated on the very first FA Cup final to be broadcast on the radio, when we faced Cardiff City in 1927. He later became the club's secretary and then managing director, before taking over as first-team manager in June 1934. Allison added to the club's two successive league titles by winning a third in 1935. He also won the FA Cup in 1936 and the league again in 1938. Allison decided to step down and retire from the game in 1946/47.
Tom Whittaker (429 games as manager)
Thomas James Whittaker was born in Aldershot, Hampshire and joined us in 1919 before becoming the club’s first-team trainer under Herbert Chapman in 1927. Whittaker had an important role under Chapman in reforming the training and physiotherapy regimes at the club before taking over the reigns from Chapman’s successor, George Allison, in 1947. He won the league in 1948 and 1953 and the FA Cup in 1950 before his tragic death from a heart attack in 1956, aged 58.
Jack Crayston (77 games as manager)
Jack Crayston was born in Lancashire in 1910 and was appointed manager in November 1956. A former player with 187 appearances for the club, Crayston elevated us from 11th to third place in the league, before eventually finishing fifth in his first season. He resigned after 24 years’ service at the club in May 1958 and went on to manage Doncaster Rovers. Crayston passed away in 1992.
George Swindin (179 games as manager)
George Swindin, a former Arsenal goalkeeper with 297 first-team appearances to his name, was invited to take over the manager’s reigns at Highbury in 1958, following a successful stint in charge of Peterborough United. He oversaw a drastic overhaul in the playing staff during his first season in charge and guided the team to a third-placed finish. After leaving us, Swindin went on to manage Norwich City, Cardiff City, Kettering and Corby before retiring to Spain. Swindin passed away in October 2005, aged 90.
Billy Wright (182 games as manager)
Billy Wright was born William Ambrose Wright in Shropshire in 1924 and was the first player to win more than 100 caps for England, captaining the national side no less than 90 times, including their campaigns at the 1950, 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals. He became our manager in 1962 but we never finished higher than seventh under him and he left the club after the 1965/66 season, when we finished 14th and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers. Wright left management and later became a television pundit for ATV. He was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of influence on the English game.
Bertie Mee (540 games as manager)
Bertie Mee was born in Bullwell, Nottinghamshire and managed us to our first league and FA Cup double in 1971. He became manager in 1966, and recruited Dave Sexton and Don Howe as his assistants. Under him, we reached two successive League Cup finals in 1968 and 1969, but lost to Leeds United and Swindon Town respectively. However, the following season, the club won its first trophy of any kind for 17 years, beating Anderlecht 4-3 on aggregate in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The first part of the double - the league title - was won at White Hart Lane, home of rivals Tottenham Hotspur, on the last day of the season. Five days later, Charlie George scored the winning goal as we beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley after extra-time to claim the FA Cup. Mee resigned as manager in 1976, later joining Watford as assistant to Graham Taylor in 1978. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 82.
Terry Neill (416 games as manager)
William John Terence "Terry" Neill was born in May 1942 in Belfast and moved to Arsenal in 1959 as a player. He hung up his boots in 1973, and succeeded Bill Nicholson as manager of our local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. He managed Spurs for two seasons, before being recruited by our board as manager in 1976 - becoming the youngest manager in the club's history. The club enjoyed a minor revival under his management, reaching three FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980, though only winning in 1979. He also reached the final of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1980, losing on penalties to Valencia. He was dismissed as manager in December 1983 and retired from football.
Don Howe (117 games as manager)
Donald 'Don' Howe was born in October 12, 1935 and was a player with West Bromwich Albion before Billy Wright signed him for Arsenal in 1964 and made him club captain. Howe retired from playing and became our reserve-team coach under Bertie Mee, before stepping up to the role of first-team coach after the departure of Dave Sexton in 1968. He later returned to his old club, West Bromwich Albion, as manager before stints as coach of Galatasaray, Turkey and Leeds United, before rejoining the club in 1977 as head coach. Howe succeeded Terry Neill in 1983 and brought through the likes of Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Niall Quinn before resigning in March 1986. Howe was later assistant to Bobby Gould at Wimbledon and then had spells managing Queen Park Rangers and Coventry City before moving into journalism and broadcasting. Howe passed away in December 2015, aged 80.
George Graham (460 games as manager)
A former player, George Graham rejoined the club as manager in 1986 after three years in charge of Millwall. He won two league titles, two League Cups, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup in eight years, making us one of the dominant teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was also the architect of 'Anfield 89' when we beat Liverpool 2-0 in the final day of the season to lift the title with a dramatic, last-gasp Michael Thomas goal. He was renowned for building his team on the meanest of rearguards, perfecting the offside trap along the way. He also bought Ian Wright, at one point our all-time leading goalscorer, from Crystal Palace. After leaving the club in 1995, Graham went on to manage Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Bruce Rioch (47 games as manager)
Bruce Rioch left his post as manager of Bolton Wanderers to succeed George Graham in 1995 and stayed for just a year. He guided us to a UEFA Cup place in 1995/96, securing qualification on the last day of the season at the expense of Everton, Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur. He also reached the League Cup semi-finals but lost on away goals to Aston Villa. After leaving the club he became assistant to Stewart Houston at Queens Park Rangers. He later managed Norwich City and Wigan Athletic, and Danish clubs Odense and Aalborg.
Arsène Wenger (1,235 games as manager)
Arsène Wenger joined us in September 1996 following spells as manager with Nancy and Monaco in his native France and Grampus Eight in Japan. He guided the club to our second league and FA Cup double, in his first full season at Highbury in 1998 and won further league titles in 2002 and 2004. He won seven FA Cups, more than any other manager in history. He also guided us to the UEFA Cup final in 2000, losing to Galatasaray on penalties and through an entire unbeaten league campaign on the way to the title in 2004. In 2006 he took us to the Champions League final, where the team were narrowly defeated by Barcelona. He oversaw the move from Highbury to Emirates Stadium, and won three FA Cups in four years in 2014, 2015 and 2017 before announcing his decision to stand down in May 2018.
Unai Emery (May 2018 to November 2019)
Unai Emery was appointed head coach in May 2018, having previously managed in his native Spain, Russia and France. The Spaniard retired from playing in 2004 after seriously injuring his knee at Lorca Deportivo, and took over as manager - guiding them to promotion to the second division for the first time in their history. He then moved to Almeria, securing their first-ever promotion in 2007. Emery was appointed head coach of Valencia in 2008, sealing two third-placed finishes in La Liga and reaching the Champions League. A short spell at Spartak Moscow was followed by a highly-successful period in charge of Sevilla where he helped them win three successive Europa League titles. This was followed by two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the domestic treble. Emery led us to the Europa League final in his first season with us, only to be beaten by Chelsea, and left the following November.
Mikel Arteta (December 2019 to present)
Mikel Arteta was named as our head coach in December 2019, having previously been assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Mikel, a former club captain, played for us for five seasons from 2011 to 2016 and won two FA Cups.
With thanks to 'Arsenal - A Complete Record', By Fred Ollier.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.