How long? Managers who created a legacy

Wenger’s reign is finally coming to an end, so we look back at some of the managers in charge for a very, very long time

Matt Proctor
7th May 2018
Wenger will finally leave Arsenal after 22 years in charge, but he has certainly made his mark. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Arsene Wenger- by Matt Proctor

After months of forwarding my angrily worded articles about Arsenal’s recent predicaments, it was a relief to actually be asked to contribute to this section with a few (not enough) words on Arsene Wenger. Football fans are all short-sighted, and it was therefore difficult for every Arsenal fan to see past recent shortcomings. But when he announced his departure, even the hardcore members of the “Wenger out” brigade would have found it difficult to say anything bad about the man.

Much has been said about Wenger’s managerial credentials; 7 FA Cups, 3 Premier Leagues and the streak of 49 games unbeaten demonstrate the sheer brilliance of Wenger’s early reign. Yet perhaps the most striking revelation to emerge since the announcing of his departure is the number of former colleagues and players who have risen to share how good of a man Arsene Wenger is. Whether it be quietly attending fundraisers for the victims of Grenfell or helping Bob Wilson through the torment of losing his daughter to cancer, Wenger has exuded class throughout his reign.

[pullquote]Wenger has exuded class throughout his reign[/pullquote]

Though players both past and present have rightly lauded Arsene Wenger for allowing them to express themselves on the pitch, it has been the insistence of so many to use the word “father” in their tributes that best communicates the type of man Wenger is. Firm in his belief in the importance of youth, Wenger has assisted so many along the journey to becoming a man. In such a money haven profession, its easy to forget the importance managers can have on the lives of young people. Few managers have understood this more than Arsene Wenger.

Stubborn, unrelenting, professional and insistent on his own style, Wenger’s qualities propelled him to the top of the game. Ironically, these same qualities have helped explain recent disappointments. But the dust is beginning to settle, and when it does, Wenger will go down as one of the greatest managers football will ever see.


Sir Alex Ferguson- by Ben Weate

Only one man can rival Arsene Wenger in terms of his enduring presence at the high table of Premier League management. Sir Alex Ferguson ruled over Manchester United and indeed much of English football for the best part of 27 years. After a glittering tenure, which saw United lift 38 trophies including 13 league titles and two European Cups, the fierce Scot stepped down in 2013.

[pullquote]Ferguson left on the ultimate high[/pullquote]

The story of Arsenal versus United and of Wenger versus Ferguson was an integral part of the English game for so long. Two ultra-competitive managers who each imprinted their own footballing philosophy on the premier league, the never-ending ‘who was best?’ debate between Wenger’s invincibles and Fergie’s 1999 treble-winners and the famous end to Arsenal’s unbeaten run at the hands of United in 2004 encapsulate a rivalry that will soon be the topic of a TV documentary.

It seems somewhat surprising that Ferguson has referred to Wenger as a ‘friend’ in recent times, but this highlights the mutual respect between two men that perhaps understand each other better than anyone. What sets Sir Alex apart is his legacy. While Wenger’s reign has petered out before turning increasingly sour, Ferguson left on the ultimate high. Beating neighbours Manchester City to secure yet another title, a year after he had lost out in such agonising circumstances, ensured legendary status. A master of his craft.


Connie Mack- by Tom Hardwick

Connie Mack, born as Cornelius McGillicuddy, not only deserves plaudits for his brilliant birth name but also for managing baseball team Philadelphia Athletics for an astonishing 50 years. Mack presided over 3582 wins, nine American League Championships and five World Series, a roll of honour that is enviable indeed.

However, these successes were mixed with long periods of struggle for the team, with Mack also enduring 3850 defeats and 17 last place finishes. Admittedly, given that Mack did own part of the team, his position was somewhat more secure than that of the modern-day manager, yet his dedication to the team even when they were swimming against the tide of highly competitive rivals and persistent financial issues speaks volumes about his character.

[pullquote]Mack was the beating heart of Philadelphia Athletics[/pullquote]

Towards the end of his reign in 1950, much of the running of the team was left to Mack’s sons due to illness, but despite his deteriorating health he had no intentions of stepping down, stating: "I'm not quitting because I'm getting old, I'm quitting because I think people want me to."

Mack did eventually leave his role, and within a few years Philadelphia Athletics had been relocated to Kansas City. Mack had become synonymous with the club, leading them to a range of triumphs and remaining steadfast when the good times faded. Mack was the beating heart of Philadelphia Athletics, and it is perhaps fitting that when he left, the club that he had built and maintained for all those years moved from the city and was never the same again.


Diego Simeone- by Rebecca Johnson

Argentinean Diego Simeone took over as manager of Atletico Madrid in December 2011, after 98 appearances with the club during his playing years. Simeone's appointment came after a disappointing league performance from Atletico, finishing seventh in La Liga in the 2010/11 season and having a poor run of games in the 2011/12 season. Additionally, Atletico have had 18 coaches in 13 years, so some stability was desperately needed.

[pullquote]The feisty manager boasts a range of achievements for his club[/pullquote]

In his first season, Simeone led his team to win the Europa League, beating Athletic Bilbao in the final. Since then, the feisty manager boasts a range of achievements for his club, this includes the Copa del Rey in 2012/13, the Supercopa de Espana in 2014 and the La Liga title in the 2013/14 season. Furthermore, Simeone is on the prowl for another Europa League trophy, after Antoine Griezmann snatched a goal late on at the Emirates in the first leg of the semi-final against Arsenal.

Clearly, this demonstrates how Simeone has transformed Atletico in the past seven years in a period of football where mangers are sacked at the click of someone's fingers. Simeone has introduced a quick and snarling team, who inevitably pose a major threat to all of their opponents.


David Moyes- by Dan Haygarth

Before his premature sacking at Manchester United in 2014 and becoming the British press’ favourite punchline, Scottish manager David Moyes spent eleven successful years at Everton. His team was defined by unwavering commitment, an impressive ability to grind out results, but also an unfortunate lack of silverware. Despite turning the club from perennial relegation battlers into consistent challengers for European football, Moyes failed to win a major honour during his tenure (unless you count the 2010 Roar Against Racism Trophy). In fairness, the three managers who have followed him haven’t got any closer.

[pullquote]He built a team that gave their all for the shirt[/pullquote]

Trophies aside, Moyes was very shrewd in the transfer market. As well as the odd dud, the Scot brought several bargains to Merseyside. Tim Cahill was a steal at £1.5 million, while Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar cost a mere £2 million each – making the £50 million that Ronald Koeman spent on Gylfi Sigurðsson look even worse.

While the lack of trophies was a major disappointment, Moyes’ impact on Everton Football Club cannot be understated. He built a team that gave their all for the shirt, even if not many of them could provide any quality, and ensured that Everton played games against Benfica, rather than Barnsley.


Warren Gatland- by Tom Shrimplin

Heading in what is now his 11th year as head coach of Wales and two series as head coach of the British and Irish Lions, Warren Gatland has become one of the most successful and long-running international Rugby Union coaches in the sports’ history.

Following his appointment in December 2007, the New Zealander made an instant impact in his first game in charge after causing a major upset against England in the Six Nations. In the end, it was a glorious campaign for the Welsh as they won the Grand Slam, due to their mean defence, which led to them conceding just two tries in the tournament.

[pullquote]It was a glorious campaign for the Welsh as they won the Grand Slam[/pullquote]

Since then, Gatland has took Wales to their second Grand Slam in four years in 2012, while also winning his third Six Nations title in 2013. Furthermore he took Wales to the semi-finals of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, although only got them to the quarterfinals of the tournament in 2015.

While with the Lions he won the series 2-1 against Australia in 2013, while in 2017 despite critiques about his style and selections, Gatland’s Lions drew the series with New Zealand after an infamous win in the second test and draw in the third match.

Ultimately, Gatland’s achievements have earned him an OBE in 2014 for his services to the sport, and he was touted to become the next head coach of the All Blacks, but over a decade later from his appointment is still in charge of Wales.


Guy Roux- by Alex Hendley

When you think of long-running French football managers, you only think of one man… Guy Roux. Or, at least, you should do.

Having played at AJ Auxerre for nine years, the Alsace-born Roux took the reins of the French club for the first time in 1961. Almost four and a half decades later, excluding three seasons of well-earned breaks, he made his final exit, legendary status confirmed, club transformed, history made.

Located in Burgundy, 1960s Auxerre was a small, trophyless club in Le Championnat National (third division) with absolutely no signs of achieving anything.

[pullquote]The Alsace-born Roux took the reins of the French club for the first time in 1961[/pullquote]

In effect, that is how they remained for some time with Roux at the helm, AJA fans seeing nothing more than a club plodding along at its own, steady bourguignon pace for almost two decades. In 1979, around 18 years after Roux first took charge, Auxerre made it to the Coupe de France final, but went down 4-1 to FC Nantes at the Parc des Princes. Glory days over? Chance missed? J’pense pas.

In 1980, the Burgundy club broke into Ligue 1, where they remained for the rest of Roux’s 44-year spell in charge. In 1994, a 3-0 victory over Montpellier in the Coupe de France final gave the club its first ever major trophy. The club would go on to win the competition again in 1996, 2003 and 2005 under Roux’s leadership.

The real chef d’œuvre came in 1995, however, when AJ Auxerre became champions of France for the first, and last, time in their history. Throw in a 1993 UEFA Cup semi-final, the bringing through of a certain Eric Cantona from the youth-system and a rein lasting just shy of half of the club’s entire history and you’ve got yourself one hell of a legacy.



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