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Deluded Arsenal fans shamelessly exploited by misleading publisher

By Tony Attwood

There seems to be no end of ways in which websites, newspapers and broadcasters can mislead – but seizing hold of comments by two or three supporters which are simply untrue, and then republishing them as if they were true, appears to be one of the current favourites.

Under the headline

‘Make him stop’ – These Arsenal fans blast ‘deluded’ figure after ‘ironic’ comments

the Transfer Tavern website last night ran this story

“Unai Emery didn’t enjoy the best of spells at Arsenal, facing various problems during his time at the club. From rumours of his poor relationship with a first-team star to the horrible league form away from home, the Spaniard endured a pretty tough period in north London.

“Many fans were glad to see the back of him with some supporters having celebrated the news of his sacking back in November. However, he has now lashed out at the outfit, claiming that even though the side wasn’t performing well under him, there hasn’t been much of an improvement since his departure from the Emirates Stadium”

The site claims that the story originates from France Football, which I can’t verify because no link is given.  A search through does not reveal the story, although to be fair Emery is on the front of the most recent printed edition of the publication.   So maybe his comment is in that article, but without an exact quote plus date and page reference, it is hard to say.

This is a trick many of the rumour-mongering sites use – they seemingly cite a source, but give no indication how one can verify that the citation is true.

But anyway let’s have a look at Mr Emery’s record by comparing the win percentage of various Arsenal managers.  Was he really that bad as Transfer Tavern suggest (noting of course that they give no stats to back up their suggestion).

This list below is run in success order as judged by win percentage, which is as good a measure as any of a manager’s success.  The matches included are only first-team competitive matches excluding the wartime league and cup games (when guest players were able to turn out for clubs).

Here is the list of the ten most successful Arsenal managers based on win percentage in the history of the club.

Now obviously managers who only handle a few games have an advantage – and this is how James “Punch” McEwen gets in – he was the manager of Arsenal during the first world war, and this included being manager for the last one or two league games of the 1914/15 season (which continued as a league season under normal rules, largely owing to the fact that there was a general belief that the war “would be over by Christmas”).  (George Morrell walked out on the club sometime in April 1915, but whether it was before or after the away match against Preston on 17 April is a matter of dispute.  If it was after 17 April then Punch McEwen managed only one match – which Arsenal won 7-0, making him Arsenal’s most successful manager of all time!)

Pat Rice managed the club while Arsenal were waiting for Mr Wenger to arrive from Japan, and Joe Shaw, who was in charge of the reserve team at the time of the sudden death of Herbert Chapman, ran the club for the remainder of the season with a lot of support from George Allison, who then took over in the summer.

I’ve included these temporary managers just to give the most fulsome picture of the best managers the club has had, but ignoring these short term managers, what we can see is that Unai Emery was right up there with the best, with a win percentage of over 50%.

Now according to Transfer Tavern “One fan labelled Mr Emery as deluded” but seeing these figures surely it is the publishers of Transfer Tavern who are deluded.  Looking at managers who lasted over one season, Mr Emery was our second-best manager ever in terms of win percentage.

But there could be the argument that we should only be looking at recent managers in order to get a proper picture here.  So let us do that…

Mr Emery is massively outperforming Mr Arteta.  Now, of course, it can be argued that Arteta is sorting out a mess, but if we are looking at simple success on the pitch, and if we are looking at actual results rather than some sort of invented fantasy world, Emery was a success.  Not in terms of winning a trophy, quite true, but then it took Herbert Chapman five seasons before he won a trophy (the FA Cup).  On the basis of a 55.13% win ratio, there is every chance that Mr Emery could have started to win a cup or two in the near future.

There is no law to stop delusional fans making comments, any more than there is a law to stop delusional publishers putting pretty much anything they like on their websites, but this little example does remind us once again of the need to be cautious when believing their commentaries.

And a reminder to check the statistics before leaping to conclusions.

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