Arthur Johnson, Real Madrid’s first manager

Arthur Johnson, Real Madrid’s first manager


Real Madrid has officially announced that Jose Mourinho will not continue coaching Los Blancos next season. Thus, the race to replace the Portuguese in the Bernabeu’s hotseat has started, and the next boss will become part of a long list of managers to have coached Real, a list that was started by Arthur Johnson.

The Englishman was the first manager that Real Madrid had. He assumed the role in 1910, having played for Los Merengues for eight years. In fact, Johnson is etched into the club’s history after scoring the first goal for the Madridistas in a Clasico against Barcelona, on May 13th 1913.

Heraldo del Sport, a sports newspaper of that time, published “The Instructions for the Good Development of Football”, in which Johnson made his ideas clear in four points:

  1. A match shouldn’t start until each team had chosen its respective boss, so he can order and distribute his men over the field as he found it convenient. This rule would prevent the excessive talk and discussions that currently exist.
  2. Players should always play in the same position and never change with each other. The main advantage of this measure is that every player would know the role of his team mates and thus could help him in a situation of danger. The system used at the moment with players switching positions constantly is not football.
  3. Players should use more ingenuity and agility in bringing the ball back into play when it goes off the pitch. Should this be done, if would be enough to complete a match within an hour or an hour and a half instead of the two or three hours that games last at the moment and that mainly consist of talking and smoking.
  4. More attention should be given to playing as a team because at the moment this is conspicuous by its absence.

Following these guidelines, Johnson was manager of Real Madrid for ten years. In fact, only Miguel Muñoz was manager of the Madridistas for a longer period. The British manager finished that decade having won four regional titles and the first Cup of Spain against Athletic de Bilbao.

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Alvaro Heralta is a Spanish journalist specialising on sport, and more specifically, on football. He has worked as a sports reporter for various Spanish media outlets such as Radio Marca, Eurosport Spain, Onda Madrid, and Since 2009, he has written a blog in Spanish called La Medialuna, in which he covers unusual stories and curious historical facts about football.