The end of an era: 5 defining moments from Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal reign

Joe Montemurro

Arsenal have today confirmed that head coach Joe Montemurro will leave the club at the end of this season to dedicate more time to his family.

Before Joe Montemurro arrived in North London, Arsenal hadn’t won a league title since 2012. English football’s most revered and most successful club side were jaded, dejected and feared to be falling dangerously behind the likes of Chelsea and Man City, who were continuing to flourish year after year.

But the Australian’s arrival in November 2017 changed everything. Having created history at Melbourne City by guiding the team to an undefeated league campaign in its inaugural season, Montemurro arrived with a respected reputation, an admirable philosophy and a desire to transform the Gunners fortunes.

Four cup finals, a Champions League quarter final and a Women’s Super League title later, and Montemurro has more than surpassed what he set out to achieve.

Here are five defining moments from his unforgettable reign:

First silverware

The beginning of the 2017-18 campaign started badly for Arsenal. Pedro Martínez Losa was sacked following a lacklustre run of performances and Montemurro was tasked with reinvigorating the team.

By the end of the season, the Australian had done just that, winning his first major trophy with the Gunners as Vivianne Miedema scored the winner against Manchester City in the final of the FA Women’s League Cup.

There was a chance for more silverware that same season as Arsenal reached the final of the FA Cup, only to lose out to Chelsea in front of over 45,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Nonetheless, Montemurro had rebuilt, reshaped and restyled a struggling Arsenal side in less than a season. It was the start of a fruitful period for the Gunners, who only continued to improve.

Joe Montemurro

Record win streak

The 2018-19 season was one of unparalleled success for the Arsenal manager as the Gunners became the first team to win nine consecutive WSL games, amassing 42 goals in the process.

This new breed of attacking football, epitomised by free-flowing movement, relentless work rate and fluidity in possession garnered many plaudits.

This revolutionary style was best highlighted away at Chelsea as Arsenal romped to a 5-0 victory to humble Emma Hayes’ side.


Winning the Women’s Super League

Though an injury-stricken squad eventually fell to defeat against Manchester City to end the win streak, Montemurro would still wrap up his first league title as manager in some style.

In front of a record crowd versus Brighton at the Falmer Stadium, goals from Miedema, Katie McCabe, Beth Mead and Daniëlle van de Donk ensured Arsenal won the title with a round still to spare.

The Gunners finished the year with the most goals in a single season, the most wins in a season and the most points of any team in WSL history. Montemurro deservedly scooped the Coach of the Year award and received a nomination for FIFA’s best women’s coach.

Joe Montemurro

Continental Cup final defeat

Montemurro’s time at Arsenal will always be viewed favourably, but like the majority of managers, his reign has not been without criticism.

In 2020, Montemurro reached another cup final, his fourth in total, but fell to a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at the City Ground.

The loss itself was neither disastrous nor embarrassing, yet it was a third consecutive defeat in a major final, sparking questions over whether Montemurro could rally his team in big matches.

This season has proved difficult for Montemurro at times as well. Defeats against Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United have been dispiriting and uncharacteristic of the old Arsenal.

Victory over United recently, however, was a huge morale boost. With Champions League football now in their sights, Montemurro’s tenure could still end on a high note.

Joe Montemurro

Creating superstars

Despite winning league titles, lifting domestic trophies and receiving multiple individual accolades –– Montemurro’s finest achievement is perhaps his development of players.

Vivianne Miedema, an all-time Arsenal legend in her own right, arrived in North London the season before the Australian to great expectation.

Her immeasurable impact since joining the club has been largely down to Montemurro, who’s nurtured the Dutch international and greatly enhanced her movement, work-rate and decision making on the ball.

Equally, Montemurro has turned several aspiring youngsters into world-class linchpins, including Arsenal centre-back Leah Williamson.

Having converted the former midfielder into a domineering defender, the 24-year-old paid tribute to her manager on social media. Speaking of his impact since joining the club, Williamson described her head coach as: “The definition of a good man.”

With such glowing praise from players, fans and neutrals alike, Joe Montemurro will forever be etched into the annals of Arsenal folklore.

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