Arsenal is interested in hiring Edu as a technical director. The classy Brazilian who had an injury prone stint with us way back when has played the role of Director of Football at Corinthians, and he’s now the Technical Director for the Brazilian national team.
It’s unclear what exactly this technical director role would entail and which part of the business he’d be looking after, but you’d assume if Sven is looking after recruitment and scouting, then maybe Edu would be responsible for excellence elsewhere in the club.
It’s hard to say whether a hire like this is a good one. On the upswing of things, he was part of some spectacular moments in our history (when we played stunning football). He knows the club, he knows London, and from an experience perspective, he’s been all around the world and seen how many different clubs do things from top to bottom.
A specialist voice in the room who has actually been a very good footballer working with the coaches to help define a playing style and identity would be very interesting. Working out how you scale that vision across the club then becomes a very fascinating role. Again, I’m not exactly sure how operations like this work, but once you have your north star of who and what you want to be, one would assume you have to build your whole structure around it.
It’s quite an undertaking. You need to hire the right kind of coaches who share the same beliefs. I think Red Bull do a really incredible job of this. Bringing people through the ranks at their various clubs. They seem to have a Google-like mentality, bring in the best at a young age and train them in the ways they set out as the standard. It’s a competitive game as well. A few seasons back, I heard from a source in Germany that a lot of clubs were tracking Red Bull’s Zsolt Low, a coach that wasn’t very well known in the mainstream, but he was a hidden superstar that Rangnick adored for his intelligence and innovation. He eventually found his way to PSG last year for £1.3m (record for an assistant). That’s why I was so surprised Arsenal let Emery bring in all his mates at Arsenal, versus building a team around him like a lot of the best run clubs do now.
You need to find players with all the correct technical attributes, but also, they need to want to play that way. The pressing philosophy they enact at Spurs only works because they find boys that will work like dogs for the greater good. Emery has been with us for over half a year now, and he still can’t find the consistency of pressing that you need to be a threat. How do we solve for that?
You’ll also need to have somebody at the club who is paying attention to the trends that are coming out of the game. Who are the next hot managers? Which are doing interesting things? What can we learn from these people and how can we integrate it into what we do at Arsenal?
Then you can start to get really deep. How are the club training the brains of players? How are Arsenal approaching cognition in football? This quote from Dr. Dan Bishop from Brunel’s Center for Sports Medicine and Human Performance is very interesting.