13 June 1966: Billy Wright, one of the club’s worst managers, resigned

Quite why Billy Wright was such a failure may be because top footballers generally are. Excluding temporary managers the only people who did less well than he did were Leslie Knighton and George Morrell from the early days of the 20th century.

The story generally told by those who were around the club at that time was that Billy Wright really didn’t take control of the club as a modern manager might. It is said that he did not arrange the supervision of training properly and that players would come in, put their track suit over their clothes, jog round the pitch one, and go home again. 

Part of his problem might have been that he only ever played for Wolverhampton, so had no understanding of the huge variety there is in the way clubs work.    Then there is the fame associated with being the first football player in the world to get 100 caps, and holding the record for longest unbroken run in competitive international football.  Or captaining your country 90 times.  Maybe he just thought everyone else ought to be able to do what he could do.

He joined Wolverhampton aged 14 and made his first team début aged 15 in 1939 in a wartime game. His postwar début was in the 1945–46 FA Cup in a two-legged tie against Lovells Athletic.  (It is an interesting side note that there was no league that season – only the FA Cup, so all games were played home and away, what with the clubs having little else to do!  Arsenal were knocked out in the third round by WHU – but of course the ability of the clubs to compete depended on how many players they had been able to round up after the end of the war.)

But, really Wright should have known more about training since he was a Physical Training Instructor in the army. But then again, maybe he just assumed that at a football club one could give an order and men would obey just as they would in the army.

As a player he won the league three times and the FA Cup once retiring in 1959 to become manager of England’s youth team.  He then came to Arsenal in 1962, a high profile non-Arsenal man, to wipe aside the failures of the Swindin era.

It didn’t work.