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Rating every Spurs manager since 1996

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A hard-hitting look at the relative fortunes of Arsenal’s closest rival.

Annual Clown Convention Celebrates Serious Clown Skills
One of Spurs’ many caretaker managers
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Here we are, just over a week from the first north London derby of the season. This season hasn’t played out the way the red half of London would have liked, at least in the league; a somewhat indifferent start with somewhat inconsistent performances finding Arsenal sixth, 12 points off Manchester City’s admittedly blistering pace.

Spurs, meanwhile, are in third, eight points behind City and four points ahead of Arsenal. They’re firing on all cylinders; doing better in the Champions League than many would have expected, and settling into their new temporary home just fine. So on the face of it, Arsenal doesn’t have a lot to boast about this year. But why should that stop us?

With Arsene Wenger heading into his 21st year as Arsenal manager, this seemed like a pretty good time to grade the managers Spurs have had in that time. Fortunately, the internet doesn’t charge by the character, because if it did TSF would go broke (SO MANY CARETAKERS!), but here we go.

Gerry Francis (1994-97)
Highest league finish: Seventh
Honors won: None
Most notable player: Darren Anderton
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: 1
Grade: F

Chris Hughton (caretaker, six games, 1997)
Highest league finish: div/0
Honors won: Probably got a good parking spot for a couple months
Most notable player: future Arsenal legend Sol Campbell
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: Not quite as many as Gerry Francis
Grade: F

Christian Gross (November 1997-June 1998)
Highest league finish: 14th
Honors won: Fired after less than a calendar year
Most notable player: See Hughton, above
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: 144 less than a gross
Grade: F

David Pleat (caretaker, six games, 1998)
Highest league finish: error 404
Honors won: Probably won the team’s weekly poker game?
Most notable player: Tim Sherwood? why not
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: equal to the number of times you should smash yourself in the face with a hammer
Grade: F

George Graham (1998-2001)
Highest league finish: 10th
Honors won: 1999 League Cup
Most notable player: Les Ferdinand
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: No matter which way you round, it’s still 0
Grade: F

David Pleat (caretaker, two games, 2001)
Highest league finish: won one, lost one
Honors won: won one, lost one
Most notable player: he was a substitute teacher, he didn’t even know their names
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: not this again
Grade: F

Glen Hoddle (2001-2003)
Highest league finish: 9th
Honors won: none
Most notable player: Teddy Sheringham
Times his teams finished above Arsenal:

Grade: F

David Pleat (2003-04)
Highest league finish: 14th
Honors won: hahahaha right
Most notable player: Robbie Keane? Jamie Redknapp?
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: c’mon
Grade: F

Jacques Santini (13 games, 2004)
Highest league finish: N/A (14th on his departure in November)
Honors won: nil
Most notable player: Ledley King
Times his teams finished above Arsenal:

Grade: F

Martin Jol (2004-07)
Highest league finish: fifth
Honors won: zip
Most notable player: Edgar Davids
Times his teams finished above Arsenal:

Grade: F

Clive Allen (caretaker)
Highest league finish: One match
Honors won: One fewer than all the other managers on this list up to this point combined
Most notable player: did not compute
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: “his teams”
Grade: F

Juande Ramos (2007-2008)
Highest league finish: 11th
Honors won: Hey look a cup! The League Cup! That’s two trophies in 10 years!
Most notable player: Dimitar Berbatov
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: they won the League Cup that one time
Grade: F

Clive Allen (caretaker, again)
Highest league finish: One match
Honors won: Two fewer than all the other managers on this list up to this point combined
Most notable player: did not compute
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: we’ve covered this
Grade: F

Harry Redknapp (2008-2012)
Highest league finish: Fourth Place Champion
Honors won: slightly less than one
Most notable player: Pascal Chimbonda
Times his teams finished above Arsenal:

Grade: F

Andre Villas-Boas
(the manager who said Arsenal were in a downward spiral in 2013)
Highest league finish: 5th
Honors won: just a hair shy of one
Most notable player: Gareth Bale
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: ∂/∂x(y^3 + (z+17)/y)
Grade: F

Tim Sherwood (2013)
Highest league finish: 6th
Honors won: lolwut
Most notable player: Emmanuel Adebayor
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: null
Grade: F

Mauricio Pochettino (2014-summer of 2017, when he moves to PSG)
Highest league finish: first loser
Honors won: Even with all that talent and skill, not one, but hey, they beat Real Madrid once!
Most notable player: 1950’s movie idol Harry Kane
Times his teams finished above Arsenal: 1
Grade: D-

So for those keeping score at home, here are some totals:

SPURS:
Managers since 1996: 14
Trophies won since 1996: 2
Finishes above Arsenal since 1996: 2

ARSENAL:
Managers since 1996: 1
Trophies won since 1996: 10
Finishes above Spurs since 1996: pretty much most of them
One of Wenger’s only serious deficiencies is that he has also never helped Spurs win a trophy.

So yeah, Spurs. Go ahead and be excited that last year was so good, and be excited that this year is also shaping up well. But don’t get too excited, because the weight of history tells a story that one recent successful (yet still utterly trophyless) season does not.