What have I done?
A few weeks ago I listed out the shortlist for managerial replacements and my wildcard this year was Eddie Howe.
I mean, I was just being provocative?
It wasn’t, you know… for real
Ivan, Arsene… please… it was banter? Just for the readers? JUST FOR CONVERSATION!
Ok, so Neil Ashton of The Sun dropped the BOMBSHELL, that Arsene and Ivan had tea and biscuits with Eddie Howe and are seriously considering him as a replacement for the LEGEND that is Arsene Wenger. Story goes that Wenger will move upstairs, Howe in downstairs. Peachy as you like.
Now, I’m game for this type of thinking. Eddie Howe is young, full of ideas, he works with young kids well, he gets the most out of very little and he’s tactically flexible in every sense of the word.
My worry here sits in a few areas.
Firstly, and let’s call the elephant in the room here David Moyes. It’s like we’ve learned very little from the mistakes of Manchester United. They let Alex Ferguson pick his successor and it bombed heroically. Moyes didn’t have the gravitas, he didn’t have the confidence and he didn’t have the pull with the big names.
Now, I’m not saying Howe and Moyes are alike. They’re not. But here’s the thing, at least Moyes had managed a big club. At least he’d won the manager of the year award. He had some sort of pedigree… I mean, first round of the CL wasn’t bad.
I think Eddie Howe is talent, but for me, he needs to go and do a Pochettino. Manage a Southampton for a bit (maybe not them) and then take the jump. Bigger budgets, bigger expectation, more pressure. Going from Bournemouth to Arsenal is like passing your driving test and being handed the keys to a F1 car.
However, you need to get over some of your preconceived notions of what being a great manager is about. It’s not about where you played. Look at Mourinho. It’s not about being a big name, look at Tito Villanova or Luis Enrique. It’s about ideas, charisma and philosophy.
Players aren’t that bright. They need to believe. The question is, does Eddie how have a good footballing philosophy? Does he have the power of persuasion to convince players to go along for the ride? Does he have the force of character to demand respect?
What’s really at play here is control.
Ivan Gazidis cannot afford to have a rerun of Arsene Wenger. If he signs Simeone, the Argentine will bring 462 of his mates over, he’ll build ivory towers around him, make it cost £18m to sack him (Roy Keane called this tactic out in his book) and Ivan will have as much control as he did before.
The CEO needs to own the infrastructure. We need to move to a modern set up where the club hires the medical team, the data company, the analytics staff, the teams that sit below the first team… that way you build stability into the setup and you stop nepotism being part of the fabric.
Arsenal should have turfed out the staffing deadwood long ago, but they haven’t had the power, because Wenger has been the almighty overlord.
My concern with this current set up, is Wenger is not a visionary of the footballing world these days. He doesn’t know what it takes to make a modern superclub. He’s a great name. A great ambassador. But he’s had 10 years to reshape Arsenal into a Bayern Munich and he’s failed. He’s rewarded mediocrity, struggled with ruthlessness and fallen well behind in the global pecking order.
How can you sit upstairs pulling the strings if you don’t know what puppet show you need to put on?
A big challenge. I’d love to see Arsenal sign Tuchel. A footballing intellect, a man who can work to and relish a smaller budget, someone who has a chameleon like approach to ideas, blending what he likes and changing what he doesn’t like, someone who is bold in the transfer market. He’s the most interesting manager in football at the moment and if he has a great season, I struggle to see a situation where we don’t put him in the frame for the job.
But whatever, at least we’re not looking at Remi Garde or Dragovic. At least we’re looking at bringing in a new vision, not more of the same. At least it looks like the curtain is coming down on the grand career of Wenger.
Another great thing about an Eddie Howe is he’d be asked to bring in the old guard. Give them jobs, ensure continuity, create a Barcelona like roll out of managers who love the club and are ingrained in our culture (set up by Wenger).
Keep an eye on Arteta as well.
ME DONE. Over and out.