After a successful career on the park, George Graham transitioned from on the pitch to in the dugout, collecting trophies at Millwall and Tottenham Hotspur, but most famously in a decade at Arsenal, where he cemented himself as one of their most successful managers in their history.
Birthplace Bargeddie, Scotland
Date of birth 20/11/1944
Playing career Aston Villa, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace, California Surf
Teams managed Millwall, Arsenal, Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur
Arrival at Arsenal
Graham arrived at Arsenal in May 1986, after a successful time in South London with Millwall. Arsenal were in a fallow period as a club, having not collected a trophy since lifting the FA cup in 1979. Graham quickly dispensed with some more experienced members of the squad, instead focussing on youth team products, including Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Paul Merson
In Graham’s first season they defeated Liverpool in the 1987 League Cup Final, as a Charlie Nicholas double secured a 2-1 victory at Wembley. Arsenal backed this up by securing a fourth-place finish in the league. Graham had built an identity for the Gunners based around a rock solid defence featuring Arsenal heroes like Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, and prolific goal scorers like Alan Smith, a regular scorer of 20 goals a season.
In his own words
Every time I turn on the television and hear a manager from the lower divisions, they’ve usually got a Scottish accent. I don’t know the reason for that but let’s hope it continues. I like the philosophy of Scottish managers, they’ve always got this will to win and this work ethic, which I believe in.
Iconic Title Win
In Graham’s third season, Arsenal lifted their first league title since 1971 as they defeated Liverpool in dramatic fashion. Arsenal needed to win by two clear goals to snatch the title from Liverpool at Anfield. Alan Smith added his 20th of the season to give Arsenal the lead early in the second half, but as the clock crept past 90 minutes, it looked like Arsenal would fall short on goal difference. With seconds remaining, Michael Thomas clipped the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar into the Liverpool net, ensuring the 1988-89 League title went home with the Gunners.
Graham added a second league title in 1991, and a League Cup and FA Cup double in 1992-93. His final success at Arsenal came in 1994, as they defeated Parma 1-0 in Copenhagen as yet another Alan Smith goal secured the second European trophy of the club’s history.
Honours as a Manager
UEFA Cup Winners Cup
English FA Cup
English League Cup
English Super Cup