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Cannon Fodder: Filling up the big boots – Part I

Some boots are to fill; yet others, impossible...

Some boots are to fill; yet others, impossible…

Greetings all! It’s only Tuesday and the week is already starting to take a chunk out of me. I find myself looking foward to THAT time on Friday, you the time: 6 PM. That golden second after which I slam my laptop shut and run the office screaming “It’s beer’o clock BIACTHES!!!!”, something tell me that HR won’t look upon the offence too kindly though… Still the dream is ever worth preserving.

On to our beloved club, Ivan the terrible (Hmm…Does he still deserve that moniker after our last few summer Transfer-windows?) has been bsy though, his latest chat with the Arsenal media division is surely worth a glance. Usually I try not to read into the ramblings from club officials, not because they have nothing to say or that their , but that I firmly beleive that the PR spin & the Media manager wouldn’t allow a single word to be released unless the fans would find it pleasing… seeing as how this ‘air brushing’ of facts would gloss away the truth, I rarely pay much attention to the releases. But Ivan’s latest nugget is one worth pursuing… his thoughts on the succession policy is surely worth a read:

“So much of the attention on a football club is around an individual and that’s very understandable at Arsenal because we have a giant who’s managing us. Arsène has been a fantastic driver and has put the club in a great, great position. The biggest challenge we’re going to face as a club is that, when that transition from Arsène to the next manager of our football club happens – and I don’t know when that’s going to be – that we come through that strongly”

As ever, the CEO is parsimonious with details (surely a desirable quality for a business head, but one that often leaves fans in the dark, hence the annoyance) but his words are true nonetheless.

Love him or Hate him, we cant help but acknowledge the leviathan of football management that is Arsene Wenger. While fans will cotinue to bicker  on whether he should stay or leave, the task of looking for a replacement is both inherent and inevitable considering that Wenger is into his sixties and has expressed NO desire to coach during his latter years.
While given an option, most gooners would doubtless scream the name “Klopp” in the thores of orgasmic esctasy as they stroke their footballs all while vainly hoping that the BVB’s metalhead semi-stoner football guru would drop all and fly to London…… Pardone me for waking you from your pleasant dreams, but how realistic of a target is he?

Ivan’s words really got me thinking and I decided to take a look at the finest coaches the world has to offer… but here’s the twist, I’ve tried to look the “candidates from the prespective of the AFC boards of directors. Why? Let’s face it, Kroenke and Ivan don’t give half a fig about the fans choices or opinions and it’s almost certain that the big decision (whenever it comes) will be fueled almost entirely by those few power-brokers within the club. So , here are our candidates (and a few popular names that have been doing the rounds):


Thierry Henry – The name has inevitably been doing the rounds and Highbury’s dearest son would no doubt jump at the oppurtunity to return to the hallowed grounds of Ashburton Grove, but reality is a bitch. Take away the red and white spectacles off and you’ll notice that the man possess ZERO experience as manager, and is not even close to being qualified to take over. History has taught us time and again that being a good player has nothing to do with being a good coach. Frankly speaking, I doubt he has the maturity or mentality to pull it off either. Dicking around with the boys is well and good, but would you want him as your man in  staring contest with Van Gaal?
Final verdict: Thierry, fewer poses in selfies, more coaching badges.

Dennis Bergkamp – To be brutally honest, he too has insufficient experience, but at least he’s working on it at Ajax. De Boer won’t take too kindly to Arsenal luring him away either, it  rumored that Dennis is his main man at Holland’s perenial champions. Being a student of Cryuff, Dennis has ALWAYS been tactically astute and more than aware of the atmosphere in the club adn its dressing room but being a amnage is more than simply drawing complex sketches on the white-board and screaming at players.
Moreover, I think Dennis is far too self-aware to accept the job even it was offered. The man knows himself, his limitations and strengths and what he is and (more importantly) isn’t capable of. His humility too would ensure that he shelved his ego while considering a job-offer to look at it pragmatically rather than just accepting it as a giant ego-massage.
Final verdict: Our god is still young and we mey yet see him in pacing the Grove’s immaculately painted technical area one day muttering into the ear of his erstwhile captain, Jack.

Mr. Arsenal – Has spoken about a lot abut the job and is never too shy when it comes to airing his thoughts on the club, but coaching the Azerbijan team is just not going to cut it. The man is a leader and would probably have the entire dressing room quaking in terror, but how tactically astute is he? Would he opt for a old-school 4-4-2 or a a 4-2-3-1? How are his man-management skills? How would he handle tactical substitutions? What is his knowledge of a the current state of the game in Europe? All these questions will remain unanswered until Adams decides to take up coaching in full capcity. I dont see the board risking For all his fame, fan-love and his impressive gooningpedigree, the man is too much a gamble at this level.
Final verdict: Less talking, more coaching Tony, there are no dearth of clubs in England that could do with a inspiring leader!

Steve Bould – Very very probable, simply becasue he would not only be the cheapest option but also ticks many boxes from the board’s point of view: Young, knows the current system better than anyone else, has an existing relationship with all the players, possess an Arsenal heritage and would be probably enjoy more fan support than any other candidate (barring the names above of course). The downsides are obvious too: He is little expreience of  Being a part of the coaching team is fine, but being THE man in-charge is entirely a different bucket of fish altogether.
Final verdict: I wouldn’t be surprised to see him heading our press conferences in a few years at all.

Carlo Ancelloti – Would make a fine option, tactically decisive, experienced and the man has an admirable way of handling pressure. But I’m rather certain that the board will be looking for a “long term coach”, someone who’ll stay with the club for a minimum of decade if not more. The dynastic way of running things has always been a success but managers like Wenger and Ferguson arent born everyday. Moerover I really don’t see Carlo settling down at Arsenal. Also, there is this minor details in the form of having to prise him away from Real Madrid.
Final verdict: 7/10, the board would be more than happy to have him at the helm, but so would many other clubs…

Jurgen Klopp – The man who set Europe abuzz with his performances. He is intense, smart, has an awesome CV when it comes to investing in relatively unknown players and conjuring world class finished products. In so so so many ways, the man is a younger, smarter and hungrier Arsene Wenger, but will he leave the yellow sub for another team that is in a very similar financial position?
Final verdict: Probably the most sought after coach in all of Europe. The board just wont chuff out enough cash to sign him, of this I’m relatively sure.

Diego Simeone – I could copy paste the same paragraph once again. He relies of a small set of players and pushes, motivates and inspires a team that is ultimately much more than simply the sum of it’s parts.
Final verdict: Most clubs would sacrifices numerous appendages to have him in the dressing room.

Martinez – The incumbent Everton manager is a fine option for so many reasons. Intrestingly, he ticks a lot of the boxes… young, ith a flare for attacking & attractive football, can manage a club on a miniscule budget and zealosuly considers defending against his religion (I can see Wenger nodding with approval), can be poached from a relatively poor Everton in the blink of an eye. Though, his downnsides are painfully evident too: he has zilch experience of handling a club of this size & magnitude and has almost no European experience of taking on the big boys in the Champion’s League.
Final verdict: Probably the candidate that he club would look at most closely before passing on.

Fabio Capello – In spite of his impresive credentials his career choices make me wonder out loud: “Does he even still have it?” He did little to endear himself to English media and populace, his underwhelimg tensure as English coach will inevitable colour the opinions of the Londoners.
Final verdict: A worthy candidate indeed but coaching a national team is simply one better than full retirement. Especially when you have a skectchy record of doing just that.

Vincent Del Bosque – The man is another leviathan that traverses the deep ocaeans of football,. He’s ‘been there, done that’…. in every way possible. But at sixty-three, his age is a rather large stumbling block to a club that is constantly looking into the future.
Final verdict: The board will be looking for a younger and more malleable manager.

Ottamar Hizeld – (pretty sure I spelt his name wrong) Plenty of experience coaching sides that seem to be heading nowhere and managing players with a budget of 50 pounds and a box of pretzes. Though he currently coaches the Swiss side, and normally that would be a deal-breaker in my book, the team’s performances have been a class apart since he took over.  Negatives: No expience coaching in the Premier League, ancient and will he able to re-adapt to a club setup, in a new country to boot.
Final verdict: Yet another worthy candidate but I’d be mightily surprised if the board decided to take a punt on him.


That’s all for now folks, but fear not our list is far from done, I’ll be back next week with more names. Meanwhile, do drop a comment with your thoughts, opinions and expletives… I look foward to them as always! Many thanks to Sahil Kamath for the inspiration!!!

About Varun Chand

Full time nothing doer and part-time Engineer (supposedly). I really hate the Arsenal and that's why I spend so much of time writing/talking/discussing/debating about them. I enjoy mocking YOU because it's fun.

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