It’s my first day back in the office for a while. I missed it. That’s when you know you’re caged by a repugnant capitalist society. I hate weak self so much right now.
Let’s get into football tings.
A lot of moping around of late, so why not have some fun and pin my thoughts to some potential replacement managers people can laugh at and use against me for the next 15 years?
Right, good managers are a tough thing to come by, mostly because football tends to work unlike any other industry. The general rule of thumb is that ascension is your way to the top. No bumps in the road allowed and if there are bumps, context is not your friend because fans and football bosses alike are generally quite ill-informed when it comes to understanding what makes a football manager a good one.
A quick example of a football club who totally get that, and it’s BVB Dortmund (who just drew Liverpool in the Europa). Anyway, Jurgen Klopp took Mainz into the Bundesliga, he kept them up for a bit, then they found themselves relegated. Klopp left / got sacked. Then Dortmund took him.
That simply wouldn’t happen in England. Can you imagine United signing up a manager who’d just been sacked after relegating his team? Of course not. Because the fans and the media wouldn’t allow it.
Dortmund had different ideas. They saw a hugely charismatic manager with great ideas, a strong vision and a desire to win that outmatched most in the game. They took a calculated chance that went beyond an immediate string of results. When we’re hiring our next manager, we need to look beyond the immediate success, because often, even success doesn’t come with context.
Jose Mourinho ALWAYS gets a side that spends the most money. Similar story with Carlo Ancelotti. That’s not to say they’re not great coaches, but it does tell you that maybe Arsenal isn’t right for them, because Stan won’t allow a major spender at the club.
We need to map the right coach to the our environment.
So for me, that means we need a developmental coach. So bearing that in mind, you have to look at two types of manager Ivan G should be looking at. Those managers who are the kings of the elite, but in a more developmental way and those managers who Ivan could be a kingmaker for. The kingmaker managers are tough to talk around, because fans don’t have vision or guts. You sometimes have to scratch beneath the surface of a small club to understand what’s going on before you gupphaw at a suggestion.
… and also, you need to remember that Wenger was at Grampus 8 when we brought him back. David Dein, a visionary himself, understood that you need to look beyond the results.
Just to labour this point, the Premier League this year is so crazy because managers at small clubs have been doing better things behind the scenes than big clubs for years. What a bit of extra money has allowed them to do is feed better players into those systems. The results have been nothing short of phenomenal.
… and look, the least fashionable manager of last year, Nigel Pearson, pretty much built the foundations for a title-winning side. Look at how well that wonky Cockney Alan Pardew is doing. Look at Pochettino now he has a bit of cash (another manager we were purring over on here a few years ago).
The other thing we need to ensure is that the next manager we bring in is tactically flexible. The game is moving along so fast now. We’re about to move into an era of NFL style tactical plays. Pep Guardiola is going to change the Premier League and it’s going to be wild. Managers who are tied to a singular style won’t be the ones making waves because you can’t buy players good enough to win with one style. We need to have a manager who can change the game from the sidelines. We need a manager who understands how to press properly. We need a manager who thinks differently.
We need energy, science and vision.
Anyway, I’m going to list out some managers I think we should look at and some I’m not too fussed about.
Ronald Koeman: My big fear is that when Arsenal replace Wenger, they’ll go super safe because they’re petrified of dropping a David Moyes like moment. Koeman is a super safe option. He’s been around the block, he did a good job shaping up Southampton after they lost 90% of their talent. He’s a coaster though. I can’t pinpoint whether he’s a good manager, or whether Southampton are just a brilliantly well run club. I’m not sure he’s particularly dynamic tactically, maybe marginally better than Wenger, and his football style doesn’t blow me away.
Frank De Boer: He’s a sexy option. He rocks those shortsleeved white shirts like Joachim Loew. But he’s smashing up a terrible league. Taking 4 titles with Ajax is like taking 4 with Celtic. Also, I have to question a manager who watched videos of Yaya Sanogo and thought, you know what, yeah, let’s get him out here on loan for a season, we could teach him how to walk. I think it’s a really sexy risk, but not one we need to be taking.
Joachim Loew: Again, what an attractive man. He’d be worth it for the uptick in female fans alone, but here’s the thing, he’s a national team manager. His job is the extract the most out of his players for 6 weeks every two years. That is a totally different ball game to managing the load of players across potentially 60 odd games. Dealing with whiny players and their egos. Managing their fitness. Managing the intensity of analysis up to three times a week. I wouldn’t want to go there. Could be a Scolari like mistake.
Diego Simeone: You have to say, out of the elite hero managers left in the game, this guy is probably the best of them left. He built a pretty incredible Atletico side that beat big spending Barca and Madrid to the top spot. He did that with a tiny squad and a pretty average budget (Arsenal like). I’m not quite sure he spunked the best part of £100m very well last summer, but hey, at least he spent it and he’s kind of in the mix in the league. He’s a superb organiser, he’s tactically very smart and he’s a powerhouse of a personality. He has a pressing philosophy, which is to turn over possession in the oppositions half, something Arsenal don’t even think about. He’s like Mourinho’s protegé. A total pragmatist. Capable of getting his players to work harder than anyone else in Europe. We’d sacrifice style, but hey, we’d probably win trophies.
Tomas Tuchel: Bearing in mind we’ll be looking at a new manager next year, you’ve got to put Tuchel in the ring. We’ve been speaking about him for a few years here, but the guy is a bit of a genius. He’s as unlikely a manager as Arsene Wenger. He looks like the sort of guy you’d find in the developer cellar at Facebook’s HQ. He’s smart though, very smart. He understands that human relationships matter and he’s very focused on making sure he’s teams behave like teams off the pitch, when he went to Mainz he made the players eat together and he put big round tables in the training rooms to encourage communications. Basics, but basics I think Arsenal miss if you believe the rumours.
Tuchel is a manager who didn’t have a good playing career, he’s a career coach. He’s a big admirer of the work ethic coaches like Pep G instill in their players. He makes players die for the cause. Again, he has a very set vision of how to press opposition and unlike Wenger, he knows how to buy the players to activate this approach. Also, good to know that he’s a trained physio therpaist and a he’s sport scientist. Very, very important if you come to the Premier League.
Importantly again, this guy is a master of tactical systems. He’s not chained to one style and he can change things up in game according to what he sees on the pitch. Unlike Wenger, he’ll select players to match his strategies, rather than rolling out the same 11 until they break. This is the sort of visionary coach that would be the replica of what Wenger was back in the day. Very exciting and a manager we should be going all out to bring to the club.
Martin Schmidt: Now, again, this is where I really start getting excited and really sad because I really don’t think our board have the vision to look at truly exciting managers doing impressive things. Schmidt took over from Tuchel. Mainz are a bit of a managerial factory. We should be looking at pinching some of their staff during our rebuild. This is a guy who understands the modern rigour of the game. His biggest achievement this season was turning over Bayern Munich. He changes from 3 at the back, then switched up during the game to 5 at the back. He can react to what he sees on the pitch in realtime and make powerful results happen.
The thing with these managers is they understand that analysis is a thing, and that if you have a predictable style, you leave yourself open to being planned against. If the opposition don’t know what you’re going to do… then even worse, they don’t know if you’re going to change it up during a game, they’ll struggle. It’s like guerilla warfare on the pitch. Schmidt is hardworking, smart with money and he has his minnow team right in the mix for the Champions League. Again, another manager with a vision for how to make strategic pressing work for his teams. Literally light years ahead of Arsene who is only just learning to look at what opposition teams do for big games.
Eddie Howe: I know, I know. WHAT ARE YOU SAYING PEDRO? Well, you have to keep all your options open and just because Eddie Howe is English, doesn’t mean he’s not very talented. Sure, he looks like he’s twelve years old, but look, we praised the shit out of Wenger for keeping us afloat on a low wage bill for years. Look at what this guy has done. He’s brought his team through some turgid leagues in a stadium I’m sure is smaller than some I’ve played in. His team works the hardest in the Premier League, they play an exciting style of football and there’s a clear vision of what he wants up there. Keeping Bournemouth in the league this season is nothing short of a miracle, especially when you consider how incredibly competitive the place has been this year. Also, if he was German, and he’d done something similar, we’d all be purring.
Anyway, I could go on forever. But that was just a taster to get you excited about life after Arsene Wenger. He’s so far behind the curve these days it’s embarrassing. There are super smart and exciting coaches breaking out across Europe. I just hope our board has the vision to go for one. Gut feel says Tom Fox signing Remi Garde is a sign of things to come… that’d be a real shame.
HAVE A NICE DAY.