On the 29th November 2019, Unai Emery lost his job at Arsenal. A series of poor results, culminating in a winless run of seven matches, saw the board take the action to remove Emery from his role as manager. This Football Manager 2020 post will simulate one season with five different managers to see which person could suit the Arsenal managerial role in real-life.
The five managers are as follows:
- Freddie Ljungberg
- Massimiliano Allegri
- Mikel Arteta
- Patrick Vieira
- Mauricio Pochettino
I have already simulated the first season of this experiment. If you missed that post, be sure to go back and check it out before continuing! This post will see how the managers fared in their second season in charge of Arsenal.
Arsenal’s New Manager | Season 2
I have now simulated the second season for each manager. Who will take Arsenal the furthest in season two of this experiment?
2020/21 Transfers: Freddie Ljungberg focused on the defence, in particular the central areas, during the summer transfer window. Presnel Kimpembe and Kostas Manolas were signed for huge fees – £63m and £68m respectively. Ljungberg also strengthened the wider areas, bringing in Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
Competitions: Last year, Ljungberg’s Arsenal finished 3rd, the highest of our five managers. Though Arsenal were poor in cup competitions, their league finish was the priority and Ljungberg will be hoping to continue their league performances in season 2.
This they did, finishing in 4th place in the Premier League, securing Champions League football for the second season running. In the Champions League, Arsenal were knocked out in the 1st knockout round against Barcelona.
Arsenal did win Ljungberg’s first cup, beating Chelsea in the FA Cup to end the season on a high.
Overall Rating: Freddie Ljungberg has a good record as Arsenal manager. His win percentage is high at 64%, winning 70 of his 108 games in charge. He has secured a top 4 finish in both seasons, a must for the Arsenal board. Arsenal fans will be happy with this record in real-life, right?
2020/21 Transfers: Allegri made several high profile signings throughout the 20/21 season, spending just under £200m. Bruno Fernandes and Memphis Depay stand out as the two key signings made in pre-season. Fernandes, in particular, shone throughout the season as he scored 15 goals and made 12 assists in 51 games for the club.
Competitions: After last seasons poor 6th place finish, the lowest of all five of our managers, Allegri was under some pressure to improve his performance in league football. However, a Europa League win last year meant Arsenal were competing in the Champions League and could look forward to a Super Cup final too.
In a great start to the season, Arsenal won the Super Cup on penalties after a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. This became Allegri’s second cup win with Arsenal in just over a year and a third was to follow at the end of the second season.
Allegri’s Arsenal went one step further than last year to win the FA Cup, beating Man City 2-0. Man City had the better of Arsenal in the Champions League, however, knocking them out in the quarter-final 6-3 on aggregate. In the Premier League, Arsenal finished in 5th, meaning that there will be no Champions League football at Arsenal next season.
Overall Rating: Massimiliano Allegri’s record for Arsenal is relatively poor when compared to his fellow managers, ending season 2 with a win rate of 53% with Arsenal. He did win three cups with the club in just two seasons, seemingly prioritising cup competitions over league performance.
2020/21 Transfers: Mikel Arteta spent just £82m over the course of the 20/21 season, comfortably the lowest of all five of our managers. Arteta brought in Riyad Mahrez from Man City, perhaps a transfer influenced by his coaching past with the club, as the main summer signing and he will be expected to be a key man for Arsenal this season.
Competitions: Last season, Arteta’s Arsenal finished in 5th place in the EPL and managed to win the Carabao Cup, but his job security was insecure at the end of the 19/20 season. This year, after a lacklustre transfer window, Arteta will be desperate for a better performance in the league.
Unfortunately for Arteta, this was not to be. 5th place in the Premier League is by no means terrible, but Arsenal did not manage to win the Europa League, meaning there will be no Champions League football at the club next season.
Last year, Arteta was perhaps saved by a Carabao Cup win. This year, the club lost to Southampton (who finished 17th in the Prem).
Overall Rating: One cup victory and two 5th place finishes in the Premier League is not a disastrous spell in charge of Arsenal for Arteta. Perhaps his comparatively low reputation worked against him. His overall record is not bad – a 60% win percentage is far greater than Allegri’s. A poor transfer window could well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
2020/21 Transfers: With signings worth over £200m, Arsenal fans may have expected more household names to have become Arsenal players throughout the 20/21 season. Of the 6 players brought in, only two have players for clubs in the top 5 European leagues. Mateo Kovacic stands out as the main signing, though at 27 he may not be the long-term signing Arsenal fans would have hoped for.
Competitions: Vieira’s Arsenal were arguably the best of the five manager’s last season. Though poor domestically, finishing 5th, Arsenal won two cups, including the Europa League, and came runners-up in another. This season was a damp squib in comparison. Arsenal again finished 5th in the league but failed to go far in any cup competition. They lost in the Super Cup to Man City and failed to go past the quarter-final in any of the other competitions.
Overall Rating: Vieira had a solid first season. But in the league he failed to qualify for the Champions League in either campaign (qualifying only by winning the Europa League). A 56% win percentage is low compared to others in this simulation. Vieira will need to improve to keep his job!
2020/21 Transfers: Pochettino’s Arsenal had a similar window to Vieira’s. 7 players were signed but no real star signings. Depay came in for £50m and Donny van de Beek was signed for a fraction less.
Competitions: Pochettino guided Arsenal to the Champions League via a 4th place finish last season. The league was prioritised over cups and it proved effective. The same can be said of the 20/21 season. Arsenal finished in 2nd place in the Premier League, the highest placed finish of any side this simulation.
Arsenal reached the Carabao Cup final, but lost out to Man Utd. Though disappointing, Arsenal fans will surely prefer to lose a final to rivals Utd and finish in 2nd than win the final and finish 5th or below.
Overall Rating: Pochettino is clearly the most successful league manager in this simulation. His record reflects this with a 66% win percentage. He will be disappointed not to have won any silverware though.
- Freddie Ljungberg | EPL: 3rd, 4th | FA Cup WINNERS 2021
- Massimiliano Allegri | EPL: 6th, 5th | Europa League WINNERS 2020, Super Cup WINNERS 2020, FA Cup WINNERS 2021
- Mikel Arteta | EPL: 5th, 5th | Carabao Cup WINNERS 2020 | SACKED
- Patrick Vieira | EPL: 5th, 5th | Carabao Cup WINNERS 2020, Europa League WINNERS 2020
- Mauricio Pochettino | EPL: 4th, 2nd
Who do you think performed the best as Arsenal manager?
Of the managers I would say that both Allegri and Ljungberg had the best transfer strategy. Allegri signed Bruno Fernandes whilst Ljungberg focused on strengthening the centre-back with Kimpembe and Manolas starring in defence.
Allegri and Vieira both won three cup competitions at Arsenal with Pochettino winning none. In the league, Pochettino undoubtedly performed the best. He and Ljungberg both qualified for the Champions League through league placing twice. Allegri, by contrast, had the worst aggregate league placing, finishing 6th and 5th in his two seasons. Both Arteta and Vieira failed to qualify for the Champions League through the league, too.
Overall, I would say Ljungberg has performed the best as Arsenal manager, with one cup win and two top-4 finishes. Allegri’s reputation and cup record will have saved him from further grief from fans and the board. Arteta’s poor record in the transfer market probably led to his downfall.
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