A tale of two football clubs
and three managers
Tomorrow will be the last game in this season’d Premier League. Huddersfield Town will be hosting Arsenal. Both teams will have something to celebrate.
Huddersfield Town, following their mid week draw at Chelsea, are now safe in the Premier League with a game still to play. Arsenal can no longer make the top 5 and a be playing in Europe next season, but it is their last match after 21 seasons under manager Arsene Wenger. Wenger has been one of the great managers in football, and it is a shame that Arsenal had their last two matches this season away. As it would be fitting for Wenger to end his reign at the Emirates Stadium, their home ground.
But with the Emirates Stadium not an option, it is fitting that Wenger should end at Huddersfield. The two teams having a shared history, including both having been managed by Herbert Chapman in the 1930s. I said this blog was a celebration of managers.
Chapman was the manager when Huddersfield won the FA Cup in the 1921-22 season, were 3rd in the league in 1922-23 and went on to win the league in 1923-24 and 1924-25, the latter helped by Huddersfield beating Arsenal 5-0.
The following season Huddersfield became the first team to win the league three times in a row, with the team built by Chapman. But Chapman had left to manage struggling team Arsenal, who had been fighting relegation the previous two seasons. Arsenal went on to finish their first season with Chapman in charge in second place, behind Huddersfield.
Arsenal, under Chapman, became the second team to win the league in three successive seasons. Sadly he died before the third season had ended.
In 2008, Huddersfield Town’s Centenary year, Arsenal were the opponents in the Centenary match, which Arsenal won 2-1.
This celebration of managers would not be complete without a mention of Huddersfield’s manager David Wagner. Last season he led the club to promotion from the Championship with a team worth, on paper, a fraction of what other teams chasing promotion had spent. Luckily football is played on grass, not on paper. This season, still with a small budget by Premier League standards, though a record amount for Huddersfield, he has secured them a second season in the top flight. Well done. No detriment to the players, who have done a great job, but under Wagner they are hitting above their weight, to mix a metaphor.
So Congratulations to Arsene Wegner and David Wagner. May there be a celebration at the match tomorrow, a match where the result is of no consequence. Not that the result does not matter, the result always matters, this is football. May both teams give of their best.
And may the Huddersfield fans in a spirit of shared heritage and mutual celebration welcome the Arsenal supporters into our stadium and into our pubs.