By ‘#ABW Regular Columnist’ Simon Collings (@sr_collings)
Welcome to Part 2 of our series on potential managerial successors to Arsène Wenger. In this blog, ABW Regular Columnist Simon Collings (@sr_collings) takes a look at current Everton boss, Roberto Martínez.
The Other Geoff
Making the Case for Roberto Martínez
“I’m sure Arsène will have some input in choosing his successor. Roberto Martínez? He seems like a good man.”
Those were the words of ex-Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood speaking back in March of this year. The quote provides a good starting point with which to look at the dilemma of who will one day replace Arsène Wenger.
Recently, it has been a debate that my fellow ABW bloggers and I have been discussing. What surprised me is how different our ideas and candidates were, it demonstrates just how uncertain the future is after Arsène.
Look at Manchester United, succeeding a long-term manager is no easy task.
As I sit here writing this, Sky Sports News is nattering away in the background. On the screen is Pep Guardiola, dressed as ever in his immaculate suit and orchestrating Bayern Munich to yet another victory.
He is, in many people’s eyes and mine, the ideal candidate to replace Arsène Wenger at Arsenal. Guardiola’s style of football, his manner off the field and his CV make him the dream replacement. But this isn’t a dream, this is reality.
And in reality I simply cannot see Pep Guardiola succeeding Wenger at Arsenal. First and foremost, Manchester City have already labelled him as their number one target. Make no mistake about it if Pep left Bayern, City would have no qualms in instantly sacking Manuel Pellegrini and bringing the Spaniard in.
The appointments of Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano provide a key indication of City’s owners desire to replicate Barcelona. The Abu Dhabi owners would love nothing more than to see their club tiki-taka their way to European glory and who better to do it than Pep Guardiola?
So, for that reason alone, I cannot see Guardiola succeeding Wenger. Perhaps one day he will take the reins at the Emirates, but not yet. City will make sure of that.
But then who else does Silent Stan and his fellow board members look to bring in? I will let my other bloggers argue the cases for Frank de Boer and the like, while Jürgen Klopp’s troublesome time at Borussia Dortmund will have supporters suggesting he is the man if he becomes available.
However if I may attempt, with some difficulty I might add, to try to get in the mind of an Arsenal board member there is only one man who I can see getting the job – Roberto Martínez.
Let’s begin with the man himself. He is quite simply a gentleman. Very rarely will you see Martínez blow his top at journalists or receive an FA charge for slating the performances of referees.
He is, to a certain extent, very safe when it comes to the media. Exceedingly likeable and always happy to talk, he creates good press wherever he is in charge.
While I put down my metaphorical mahogany pipe – remember I am trying to be an Arsenal board member here and having been to the AGM I can tell you for free that it’s an old bunch – I realise that this Martínez chap would be good at the Emirates.
He is liked by the media, rarely gets in trouble and presents a good image for the club. Big tick in the PR box then.
But what about playing style then? The fans under Wenger craved the sumptuous flowing football that saw the Frenchman’s side open up and obliterate teams when everyone was on song.
Well, in that same ilk, Martínez encourages his side to get the ball down and play. You cannot argue that the Spaniard’s sides don’t play attractive football. Look at Wigan, they out played Manchester City on their way to FA Cup glory.
The same can be said for Everton. Granted they have a bit more pace and power about them, primarily down to Romelu Lukaku’s presence, but isn’t that what Wenger was all about in the first place? Combining pace and power with expert passing and technique? Sounds like Martínez would be the perfect fit in my opinion.
As a board member I also recall Stan saying that we shouldn’t spend much on transfers, certainly Arsène didn’t. So the successor should be in the same vain and, bar his splurge on Lukaku, Martínez once again ticks that box.
The Everton boss is very astute in the market and particularly for the Toffees I cannot think of many signings he has made which have been poor. He has a strong understanding of the foreign markets too, an area Arsène has expertise.
Perhaps most importantly, Martínez is proven in England. He very nearly usurped us for fourth place last season and he guided an average Wigan side to the FA Cup.
So, from a board member’s viewpoint, can you now see why Martínez makes a lot of sense? He is undeniably the safest option.
But, to finish, I want to remove myself from the body of an aged board member and instead conclude with my own thoughts.
As I said initially, I would go for Guardiola as the new Arsenal manager. People argue that his time at Barcelona was easy due to the squad he had at his disposal, but what he did with the youngsters there is utterly brilliant.
He transformed players like Sergio Busquets and Pedro into fully fledged internationals and World Cup winners. He showed no fear in axing the likes of Deco, Ronaldinho and latterly Samuel Eto’o. He did what was best for the team, regardless of egos and reputation.
Someone like that at Arsenal would be incredibly refreshing. A man who would come into the club and, without fear, on his first day say ‘no, this isn’t how we do things’.
But personally, I don’t think that is what the board want. I know Wenger essentially runs the club now, but financially, PR-wise and performance-wise he is very stable.
He doesn’t over spend, gets fourth and creates huge press interest in the club by his charm and manner with the media.
Martínez would, in the board’s eyes, follow that lead – basically replicating Wenger. That’s why I am confident the Spaniard will succeed Arsène.
But, for me, he is not the Spaniard I would choose.
By ‘#ABW Regular Columnist’ Simon Collings (@sr_collings)
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