Former players as managers? Lampard sacked, Solksjaer close, and Arteta?

Former players as managers – good or bad? by AndersS

At the moment the average the average time for a manager in the Premier League to be in the job is 789 days. This is around 2 years and 8 weeks. Not long compared to other walks of life.
Not that we necessarily should feel sorry for the average manager in the league. They are extremely well paid, and I am sure for many managers getting sacked isn’t a big dent in their CV, as it is now a common occurrence, which most managers can expect happening to them at least once, if they have a long managerial career.

Although, I do have sympathy for young managers, who early in their career get sacked and may not yet have achieved anything. They may be marked early on, and could struggle to make it in the long run.

I would have to put Arteta in the category of young managers without many managerial achievements to fall back on, should he get sacked this season. Sure, he was assistant to Guardiola in several triumphs, but honestly, how many will give Arteta much credit for them? Very few, I suspect. His best managerial credential must be winning the FA-Cup with Arsenal, and although this is a very nice title on the CV, I would fear, if he gets sacked in the near future, it would be a serious blow to his future prospects.

It doesn’t seem long ago, a majority here on Just Arsenal was calling for Arteta’s head. To me it also seemed to be the right thing to do. Now the situation has changed. There is better results and more belief. But I believe, it is a fragile situation, which could again become very bleak within a just a couple of weeks. The “rollercoaster” realities that nowadays seem to be an unavoidable part of the job.

As I am writing this, Solskjaer’s manager position at Man U could very well be terminated in a matter of days if not hours.

And this brings me to the main subject of this article.

Is being a former star player at a club really an extra qualification to be manager at that club?

If Solskjaer gets sacked now, Arteta is the only left of the 3; Solskjaer, Arteta and Lampard. All 3 are connected in my opinion.

When Man Utd sacked Mourinho in December 2018, Solskjaer was immediately employed as a caretaker manager. It is my conviction; he was not viewed as the long-term solution. Since Sir Alex left, Man United have had David Moyes, who was carefully selected with the belief that he could become a new Sir Alex. A manager who would grow into the job and continue producing titles for many years. It didn’t happen. He was sacked before time and next was Ryan Giggs as an unsuccessful caretaker manage. After him Man Utd went on to employ a manager, with a world class CV, Louis Van Gaal. That didn’t work out satisfactorily either, and being more and more desperate for titles, Man U now went for Mourinho, knowing he is never a long-term solution, but he seemed a guaranteed title provider who could steady the ship. Didn’t happen either, so Solskjaer was given the job as a caretaker, until Man U could make a new plan.

But to everybody’s surprise, Man Utd got an instant turnaround after Solskjaer was employed. 6 straight league wins plus a couple of cup matches won, meant a winning streak of 8 games. It seemed to me, this created a situation where their fans, pundits and what have you, believed he was the answer to their problems with finding a manager of the right calibre. As we all know, he was then appointed “permanent manager” in March 2019.

Possibly somewhat influenced by seeing Man U achieving more success with a former player at the helm, rather than with a world class manager with a CV to go along, Chelsea put Frank Lampard in charge in July 2019.

A “feel good” solution with the fans, and possible convictions that a person, who supposedly knows the culture at the club etc., etc. is in the new recipe for getting a good manager.

I certainly remember these arguments put forward to make Arteta’s case for getting the job at Arsenal in December 2019. Especially Chelsea with Lampard was mentioned as an example. Never mind the results weren’t completely there for them. The playing style and the project looked promising to many.

As for Arsenal, after having failed with Emery to a certain degree, despite his impressive CV, in the context of Man U/Solskjaer and Chelsea/Lampard, an Arsenal/Arteta solution could be just what we needed, it seemed. This is the background for Arteta becoming our manager. Not all the degrading and rude nonsense about being the cheap solution etc., which we read here now and again.

Almost 2 years down the road, and rapidly approaching the average time in the job, I think we can’t really say, whether Arteta was the right choice.
What we do know, is Lampard is history at Chelsea. Overall mediocre results, and his successor have certainly underlined, being a former star player for the club, is probably not a big qualification.

If I were to bet, I would bet Solskjaer will also be let go without fulfilling the hopes and expectations for Man U.

That leaves Arteta. Will he achieve, what the other 2 couldn’t? Personally, I am very much in doubt. I hope he proves to be. Wouldn’t it be great?

But for the time being, I don’t see being a former player for the job is an extra plus. I think you could just as easily argue, that coming totally unbiased and with only ideas and experience from other clubs, is better.

COYG. With or without Arteta short or long term.
Either way, I think the times, where a manager is with the same clubs for many years, are gone. The world of football is impatient.

Med venlig hilsen/kind regards

Anders S

Tags Arteta Lampard Solksjaer


  1. Arteta wasn’t in the same category as Lampard and Solshar, they were iconic for their respective clubs, winning leagues and CL with them. Totally different to Arteta, who was not a legend and never won a league or CL. So to try to compare legends status between the three is misguided and not relevant to the article.

    1. I am sorry, if I have written something, that can be misunderstood. My point is not to compare any legend status. My point is to cast doubt on the wisdom in thinking a former player who knows the clubs culture etc. is really a big plus in his qualifications to manage the same club.
      I believe when all three in question got their manager positions, it was believed to be a great advantage.

      1. Ok, i get what you are saying Anders and your point but Solshar and Lampard were the catalysts for success while they were in their teams and their teams were ulta competitive and winners, while they were playing. Arteta and Arsenal were not, so to say that they all knew the DNA of the club, is only relevant when players are playing for the respective teams when that DNA was actually bearing fruit and working. The time Arteta played, Arsenal were not so successful, so the DNA of the club was not worth trying to copy through progression from player to manager.

  2. I think the club owners hired the ex-players partly because of sentimental values. They might hope to transmit the ex-players’ love towards their clubs, into higher dedications, than the likes of Mourinho could ever show

    This method has made more misses than hits, but the results are incredible if the appointment works. We’re currently witnessing a very long learning process of a new manager

    Man United were also improving under Solskjaer, before their board decided to make some easy money by re-signing an old legend. Man United’s system is still unstable and immature, so they need a strong CF who can play with his back to goal and do proper hold-up play

  3. I am not impressed with the way we’ve been playing under Arteta. This is like his 2nd full season and there are still the same problems in the team. However, even if he ends up not making it I do think like Lampard and Ljungberg he’s got potential. People use to call him average as a player but I disagree and thought he was great at Everton and even in 11/12. He also showed intelligence to play as a DM at times.

  4. Hiring a popular ex-player as manager provides a bit more cushion to ride out the inevitable rough patches – fans will likely give them a little bit more rope before getting the pitchforks out.

    But it only buys a little good grace as we are witnessing with all three. At the end of the day, it’s a results based business.

    For the record, I dont think Arteta being as ex-player has anything to do with him still being in the job (although it probably played a role in him getting it). I think the decision makers genuinely believe in his potential to lead Arsenal back to the top. Something I share.

  5. Let’s hope MA is breaking the circle, it looks like his team has found the rhythm of play and positive attitude. All he needs to do is to adjust some loose nuts in the so much talked about system. And if he can infuse positivity in those lads in parallel with the play. He’s IN.

  6. You can’t ignore the ambition aspect of the clubs mentioned. Arteta finished 8th twice, still no identifiable style of play.

    He would have been sacked long ago if he was at Chelsea or Man Utd. Lampard got the chop, and Tuchel won with same players Lampard had.

    1. Correct, we have slightly different expectations than utd and Chelsea, which does make a slight difference.

      1. Exactly, underperforming has been acceptable lately at Arsenal, whereas it was not with previous 2 managers. Our owner famously said he is not involved to win titles, and that believable comment has been on full display the last decade.

  7. The decision to higher Arteta wasn’t purely on the fact that he played here.. To me it was more about the fact he was Pep’s assistant.. Any former Arsenal player whether legend or not working for Guadiola would have gotten the Arsenal Job, especially at a time when we needed a manager like Pep to continue the beautiful football Wenger left us with.
    The advantages of hiring past footballers especially legends is that it somehow helps to connect any broken relationship between supporters and club.. supporters will back them easily even if they are not doing well thereby pushing the pressure of sacking him to the fans and not the board..
    secondly he Will be backed by former teammates of his.. They will hardly criticize him e.g Manutd and Solksjaer, how many times do u hear him been criticised by the likes of Ferdinand, Scholes, Neville, Roy Keane? etc
    Some of this appointments are just a way of getting the fans back or mending broken relationships and also less pressure on the board to sack when it isn’t going well… The statement from the club is more like “That’s your legend, u determine whether we keep him or not”
    This just explains why some of them last longer than they really should.

  8. Well lampard got the boot and soon I think Solsha will follow but that will never happen to Arteta at Arsenal. Reason simple Chelsea and Man United have standards & ambition while we don’t. You can not even blame the owner for this because a good number of Arsenal fans still think Arteta is right for this club, has done good and will do wonders 😂😂😂.

    1. Arsenal have high standards and ambition have chosen a good manager to build a new team.
      Not many would have trisk.
      However, despite some difficulties at times he is a solid choice and deserves more time to see what he can achieve.
      aken a punt on Arteta at the time and it was certainly a We will see whether he will “do wonders”.

    2. @ Logic
      Don’t you think sacking Emery after just 18 months is a sign of ambition?
      I can’t see any other reason for his sacking, except he wasn’t delivering at least Champions League, or?

      1. AndersS, Emery was never supported by the Arsenal Board or senior management and thrown to the wolves (albeit with an expensive payout), to deflect criticism from those who appointed him.

  9. I absolutely would not have hired Arteta so I was not on any bandwagon re: hiring a former player
    However, he was given the job and IMO got to grips with the toxicity in the changing room that Emery copped. He did have enough gumption to win an FA Cup or was that down to someone else?
    I’m in no way suggesting that Arteta is awesome but I have taken into consideration the fact he was untried and after some very rocky times and questionable moves, appears to have the players behind him and a better appreciation of his role. There are enough managers plying their trade at a top level who are struggling or have never been that great anyway. I’ve said this over and over.. finding a top manager is as rare as hen’s teeth. So Arteta could quite easily succeed at the highest level with a bit more practice but he may just as easily end up as more than adequate but not a Klopp or Pep. Time will tell. But I have felt consistently he is not the disaster that the majority think. Of course, until his run comes to an end as it usually does for most managers with the sack ….

    I’m encouraged that Jah son hasn’t reappeared since his assertion that Arteta would be gone by September. Arteta is probably wiping his brow that he’s had a month’s grace

    Regarding OGS I thought he’d do no worse than what had gone before him – apart from Ferguson. He hasn’t delivered sufficiently after 3 years especially with the high profile signings

    Lampard was on a sticky wicket under RA, but also learning as he went along. Didn’t get long enough to find out if he could make the grade

    1. Or Sue P, very astute by RA spotting Lampard was underachieving with the squad he had after their investment and changing the manager at just the right time to salvage the season. Which is what he did and so far haven’t looked back.

      1. How could I possibly disagree Reggie?
        None of it answers the point that he was given no time at all and RA is so driven that he wanted immediate success and got it with one of the top 5 managers in the world. Can’t say we are run on those lines

        1. Sue P, RA is in it to win it, Lampard obviously wasn’t getting out of the team what was being put in. It doesn’t make him a bad manager but it did make him not good enough for Chelsea at that time because someone came in and did better with the same players. Lampard may or may not turn out to be a top manager but Chelsea as RA wanted it was too big for him, he wasn’t upto it.

    2. I agree with much of what of what you have written. I feel Arteta is a much better manager than he is being given credit for. It is easy to forget that he is one of the least experienced managers and in charge of a very high profile club. He came in to take charge of a team low in confidence and with a poor roster.
      There are a number of world class managers who may be ahead of him at this point. However, there are probably only a handful these and despite what some people believe there is no guarantee that they would have done better with the available resources.
      He has not got everything right but I feel he deserves to be supported for now.
      Much of the early criticism and hounding of the manager this season, from fans and pundits alike, was excessive and lacked perspective.

  10. What I can tell you is that, most experienced/successfull managers do not want want to inherit teams in a mess for fear of violating their reputation in a game. This is exactly where I give Arteta a credit. In arsenal he inherited a mess, everything at arsenal was bad and top managers didn’t want to get involved such as Allegri, and even now conte but Arteta accepted it and is slowly progressing with now what’s regarded his own team. For other clubs mentioned and because there able to splash cash for any manager, the managers are always ready to take over and that’s why solsha and Lampard have no one to blame, they have/had everything before them .

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs