History

32. Graham returns to manage Arsenal

Chairman Peter Hill-Wood with George Graham

George Graham returns to Highbury as manager May 1986

George Graham returned to Highbury in the summer of 1986 with the Club struggling to emulate past glories. After four Cup Final appearances in three years between 1978 and 1980, things had become a little bleaker for Arsenal. 

Defeats in 1983 to Manchester United in both the FA and League Cup Semi-Finals were disappointing but it was a shock Highbury win by Third Division side Walsall in the following season's League Cup that sealed the fate of manager Terry Neill.

The job fell to coach Don Howe, but he resigned on March 22, 1986 after two seasons in charge. The stage was set for an inspirational decision. Someone was needed to bring the glory days back to Highbury — and that someone was Graham.

The Arsenal board turned to the Double-winning side of 1971 and picked the very man who was voted man of the match as the Gunners beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.

Graham lacked experience at the very highest level but had done an excellent job while in charge of Millwall. He had the support and the backing of the Board and duly delivered, winning the League Cup in his first full season in charge.

He went on to reign as Arsenal manager for nine years bringing two league titles, two League Cups, one FA Cup and one European Cup Winners Cup to the club.

With thanks to The Official Illustrated History of Arsenal 2004.

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