Has someone been talking out of school or are they all just copying the answers? You’d think so with this morning’s back pages. Column inches devoted to which big name is replacing Arsène with more or less the same names in all. No-one left-field like Wenger when he took over; these are great and not-so-good of world football who may be available for an interview if asked.
There will be those who say, “Oooh, but he’s at this club or that” as if it is some barrier to appointing a new manager. Here’s a hint: it isn’t; it’s the same as signing a player when it comes down to the two clubs.
Sunday was always a tipping point for action for the media. But the manner of defeat and the pitiful vignette of complaining about injury time confirmed Arsène’s race is run. Does he know it? I’m not convinced; he may sense the walls closing in on all sides but I don’t believe he thinks he’ll be ‘asked’ to leave.
Maybe he isn’t as blinkered as we think and he’s just waiting for Unai Emery to be given the elbow by PSG once their seemingly inevitable Champions League exit is confirmed. It’s a bit like ours from the Europa League, just sooner.
Do any of the names mentioned as his successor ‘float your boat’? I’ve long advocated the appointment of an experienced interim manager, such as Carlo Ancelotti, who is available now. There’s plenty who call him ‘Wenger-lite’ and among some, the words of the Bayern Munich players ring true.
I always found it odd that their complaints were aired as they were in the midst of the usual battering for failing in the Champions League again. It’s as if they were looking for a scapegoat.
Don’t Forget Sol Campbell
As you peruse the list of usual suspects, some names stand out. For the wrong reason. If we’re hellbent on appointing David Brent, can we at least get Ricky Gervais in rather than Brendan Rodgers? Sorry, but no, Arsenal; just no.
The interesting names, again, are unsurprising. There was a lot of talk about Max Allegri over the past few years and his track record – like Ancelotti’s – demands respect. On Netflix, there’s a documentary series about Juventus which is sort of interesting in a PR kind of way but the one thing which is clear is Allegri is a hands-on coach who isn’t afraid to tell the players what he thinks they are doing wrong.
And more importantly, how to put it right.
If I had to pick names which appeal to Stan’s vision of the club, Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim and Shakhtar’s Paulo Fonseca would be the two in the frame. The former club is who Arsenal want to be as a business and while the manager brought relative success to the playing field, the pressure instantly turns onto the youth system.
Jardim joined the Monegasque in 2014; it took three years to deliver a title, in which time they procured a talented batch of youngsters from around the globe. Is it something we can replicate? Arguably not but then again, that’s why Sven Mislintat was brought in: revamping player recruitment.
Fonseca is the bigger risk in that sense. Shakhtar’s profile abroad comes through European adventures and relatively speaking, they don’t do badly. Can he replicate that success here is the question?
Jardim of the two has more experience and of clubs who occupy a similar level as Arsenal. Interestingly both men managed Sporting Braga so the Arsenal connection is there. Omens, eh?
Ahem, Sol Campbell?
Which leaves Joachim Löw. No club pedigree to speak of and an international coach for the last fourteen years. Successful as well, you have to admit. It would be an appointment to keep Mesut Özil happy and the prospect of us playing a similar way to Germany holds appeal, particularly if it comes with the same success.
I’d be surprised if Arsenal went with Löw; would any of the board want to shake hands with the man when he walked into the room for an interview? Instinctively, you’d smell them after and have a quick squirt of the antiseptic gel.
The PR side of the club’s executives would look at former players. Maybe Thierry Henry and Ancelotti; Arteta and someone else? There’s a huge boost to be taken from this kind of appointment because those are the two names who regularly form part of the ‘Managerial Dream Team’ you see mentioned on social media. Tony Adams as well but as fine a player as he was, no. Just, no.
Bergkamp is another many would willingly add to the coaching staff and I see no issue with that. Ajax didn’t either until they reached a tipping point with the head coaches, and according to a BBC report at the time, there was a difference of opinion over the “technical direction”. The Dutch arguing? Who’da thunk it.
If we are seriously looking at a former player though, Patrick Vieira is a name which ought to be in the frame. As far as managerial experience goes, he is head and shoulders above anyone else of the former players. People dismiss him on the basis of being in the USA; it’s a flimsy argument and one which if extended, rules out Arteta and Henry as well.
Cake and eat it time.
That the story has broken this morning and so widely suggests something is happening behind the scenes. There’s no doubt that the thought process of the experienced football men in the senior management team are thinking of change; their own experience tells them it is overdue after the performance at Wembley.
It’s a squad no longer responding to the manager. I know Arsène diminished the role of managers, claiming players were more important in the game, but that came across as belittling Guardiola – the focus of the question – rather than anything else. Hindsight says there was an element of self-preservation in the answer: Arsenal’s failure isn’t Wenger’s fault (entirely).
Maybe he genuinely believes that and to some extent, there is a truth that the players are as much to blame. It’s Shkodran Mustafi’s decision-making for the first goal which is at fault; you can pinpoint wrong decisions made by the players at any time during the build-up to any of the three goals.
The psychology of the squad is the biggest indicator that change is long overdue. Heads went down very quickly, which combined with the lack of response in the second half tells me the manager no longer impacts the players. Are they inured to his every word?
It will take some time longer for the truth to emerge, probably even through to the summer. The close season is a time for decisions with the manager though. We saw last season how the uncertainty hit the squad. Can you imagine the effect on this group of poorly performing players? We’d rapidly hurtle toward mid-table obscurity.
Still, we’ve always got Sol Campbell to come in and save us.