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GCR Books

Arsenal managers: Stewart Houston – still with Arsenal

Stewart Mackie Houston was born on 20 August 1949 in Dunoon in Scotland.

In all he had two separate spells in charge of the club, making him unique in Arsenal’s history.  He was manager number 21 and 23.

In his first spell after the sacking of George Graham from March to May 1995 he took charge of 19 games with a 36.84% win record.  In his second spell from August to September 1996 after the sacking of Rioch he took six games and had a 33.33% win record.

In terms of his success rate against other managers he comes 21st and 24th in the all time records.

Stewart Houston played left-back for Chelsea (14 appearances in five years), Brentford, and then Manchester United (after one year at Brentford) where he made 248 starts and after them Sheffield United.  He ended his playing career as player-coach at Colchester.

His trophies were achieved at Man U where he won the 2nd division title in 1975 and the FA Cup in 1977.

He also played for Scotland on one occasion, and he is that utter rarity – a footballer who is a musician (he co-wrote “Blue is the colour” which was a hit in 1972.)

At Old Trafford he got to know fellow Scottish international George Graham – and George eventually took him to Highbury as the reserve-team coach.  He became George’s second in command in 1990 after he took the reserve team to the Football Combination trophy for the first time in six years.    It is said that Stewart’s ability to spy on the opposition and weigh up their pros and cons was a major factor behind the success of George Graham.

Stewart Houston was then assistant to Bruce Rioch (manager 23), and when he (Rioch) was sacked Stewart was again appointed as caretaker, while we waited for Arsène Wenger to finish his time at Grampus Eight. However, Houston resigned to take over as manager at QPR with Rioch as his assistant.  In retrospect and with all the benefit of hindsight it was probably one of the worst decisions in football management history.

QPR had just been relegated from the top division,  and wanted a manager to bring them back to the newly formed Premiership at one go.   Stewart obviously thought he was that man, but his time at QPR was not a success; he was sacked as manager in December 1997 with the club looking more likely to go down again, rather than back up.

Not being able to return to Arsenal Stewart went to Ipswich as the first team coach with George Burley, but when George Graham decided amazingly to manage Tottenham Hotspur, Houston went there as his assistant.   He left Tottenham after George Graham was sacked in March 2001.

After this it gets a bit hazy.  There is one report of him having been a coach at Walsall, but that is all.   The League Managers Association web site has his back at Arsenal from 1 August 2008 although it does not define in what capacity.

As far as I can see what he does now is what he did in his earlier days at Arsenal, which is go out and about and suss out forthcoming opposition.  For example there is a report on “Footy Utopia” web site that has him in Greece watching Olympiakos prior to a Champions League match.

According to the site, “Sports Day” a Greek paper, interviewed himHe did indeed reveal a number of insights, such as the confusion that exists when the front three of the Greek side change positions the fact that Mirallas was their top player but not an intelligent player, and that Costanzo was a liability in goal, who does not instill confidence in the defence.
The comments went on for some time, and according to the report, made every newspaper in Greece.
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As for the match Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Andre Santos gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead, but the Greek side pulled one back, and that was how it stayed.  Thomas Vermaelen was out injured, and although only September Wojciech Szczesny found himself playing behind a different back four for the eighth time in 11 games.
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Quite why the story was published this time, when otherwise it is very hard to follow Stewart Houston’s work at Arsenal I don’t know.  Maybe the idea was to wind the Greeks up!
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6 comments to Arsenal managers: Stewart Houston – still with Arsenal

  • chris harris

    Stuart Houston has been scouting for arsenal for some years watching our next opposition and reporting back to mr wenger. i know he brushed up on his english written work studying at colchester collage !!

  • sue benniston

    i would love 2 send stuart a short e mail 2 ask him how he is. we were friends, along with martin buchan back in the 70,s when they played 4 man united. ive never been a football mad person, but we had some laughs at the brooklands tavern, sale, singing along with charlie
    at the piano. i would just love to say hi 2 them both. could u please let me know were i can send an e mail

  • John Griffiths

    Hi Stewart,
    Trust all is well, I am still working contracting all over SA doing ok in a very changed sa.
    Are you still at Arsenal? If this gets to you please reply and I will bring you up to date!
    Especially as you now are english??????

  • Bill Docherty

    Hi Stewart

    How are you?

    Getting close to 50 years since we were team mates at Port Glasgow Rangers and had our trials at Chelsea

    Hope this finds you well

    Regards

    Billy

  • Stewart Houston Jr

    Stewart Houston is my Dad! For the past 8 seasons or so he has been scouting Arsenals opposition in the Champions league. He usually watches a team 3 times before we play them so has a few airmiles off Easyjet! He also keeps an eye out for up and coming talent in the UK.

  • Stewart thank you so much for writing in, I really do appreciate it. I’m currently working on Arsenal: The Chronology, which takes all the dates on these files and puts them in order. I’ll make sure I up date the references there.

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