Safety in Numbers: Wenger Out, Three Billion In

The only blog post you will read this summer that doesn’t pass judgement of Arsène Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal manager.

This weekend, much-lauded-then-maligned-then-lauded-again Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger managed Arsenal for the 1,235th and last time. A lot has happened to the world of football since the 13th August 1996 – nearly 22 years ago – when he was appointed, though a lot more has happened to the world in that time. So much so, in fact, that on Monday there will be more than three billion people – 39 per cent of the global population – who will be waking up for the first time in a world where there is no Arsène at Arsenal.

On his appointment at the tail end of 1996 – a year that has gone down in the history books (if you want to feel old) as the year Take That split up, Dolly the Sheep was born and the Spice Girls burst onto the scene – the earth’s population stood at around 5.8 billion. While exact global birth and death statistics are impossible to record, we do know that in the intervening 22 years its population has grown by 1.8 million to 7.6 billion people.

However, we must also take into account the number of deaths during this period, which stands at around 55 million every year, revealing the slightly morbid fact that more than 1.2 billion people died during Arsène Wenger’s reign. In total, this adds up to approximately 3,003,849,514 “new” people who have been born with Wenger at the helm of Arsenal Football club. This amounts to 39.4 per cent of every current living person, and 2.8 per cent of every person who has ever lived, which is fairly impressive.

Sadly for Wenger, this achievement is bettered by his old adversary Sir Alex Ferguson, whose retirement in May 2013 left 3.7 billion people (52 per cent of the global population) seeing a different face in the Manchester United dugout for the first time. In his 9,691 days in charge at Old Trafford, the world population rocketed by 45 per cent at a rate of about 384,000 births per day, meaning that 3.4 per cent of everyone who had ever lived at that point (around 7.16 billion people) had only known a Manchester United team with Ferguson at the helm.

However, even the great Sir Alex Ferguson had some way to go to beat record holder Guy Roux, manager of French side AJ Auxerre. Indeed, Ferguson would have had to stay in charge of Manchester United until September 2030 – another 12 years – to stand any chance of managing a side longer than Roux, who enjoyed an incredible 43 years and ten months in charge of the Ligue 2 side between 1961 (when Ferguson was just 19) and 2005. In these 16,013 days in charge, a grand total of 5.88 billion people were born, meaning that the world population more than doubled whilst Roux was at Auxerre, and 90 per cent of the world’s current population hadn’t been born when he took the reins at the club.

Admittedly, Roux did take a season off from managing Auxerre between July 2000 and June 2001, though as during this time he was still at the club as a sporting director role we won’t take his record away from him.


Managerial Top Trumps
Manager Arsène Wenger Sir Alex Ferguson Guy Roux
Club Arsenal Manchester United Auxerre
Date appointed 13th August 1996 6th November 1986 ?? August 1961
Date left 13th May 2018 19th May 2013 4th June 2005
Days in charge 7,943 7,943 16,013
Games managed 1,235 1,500 ??
Wins 707 895 ??
Win percentage 57.2% 59.7 ??
Total births during time as manager 3,003,800,000 3,717,000,000 5,876,300,000
Total deaths during time as manager 1,202,600,000 1,467,200,000 2,424,400,000
Net global population growth 30.9% 45.3% 111.7%
Percentage of current global population born since start of stint at club 39.4% 51.9% 65.0%
Percentage of all who have ever lived who had never seen a different manager at the club 2.8% 3.4% 3.9%


So, what does all of this tell us?

Firstly, it highlights the rapidly growing global population, which is expected to surpass eight billion within the next six years. While population growth in More Economically Developed countries remains fairly stable (in the UK there are 11 births for every 10 deaths, resulting in a 0.1 per cent population growth rate), emerging countries such as South Africa (25 births for every 15 deaths) and Botswana (31 births for every 22 deaths) are seeing rapid population growth. Globally, it is estimated that there are 19 births for every 1,000 people compared to just eight deaths, essentially highlighting a worldwide “two in, one out” policy.

One of the biggest influences on this is the rapid progress being made by medical science to eliminate disease, while communication technology is giving people greater access to information as well as broadening people’s knowledge, with studies having highlighted a link between mortality and IQ.

So, if you’re 21 or younger and it feels strange to see a new manager appointed by Arsenal this summer don’t worry; you’re certainly not alone.


The Future

Now that Arsène Wenger has left Arsenal it leaves Paul Tisdale, manager at League Two Exeter city, as the longest-serving head coach in England. If Tisdale is looking to build a legacy to rival that of Wenger or Ferguson, then he only needs to keep his job for another 5,353 days (or 14 and a half years) until overtaking Ferguson on the 7th January 2033, having been appointed nearly 12 years ago in June 2006.

By this point, it is projected that the global population will have swelled to 8.76 billion – a whopping 2.1 billion more people, or 32 per cent growth, since 2006. With an estimated 1.46 billion deaths taking place over this timeframe, it would mean that 3.6 billion people would have been born in Tisdale’s time at Exeter City.

Paul – if you’re reading this, know I have faith in you.


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