With Arsène Wenger stepping down at the end of this season, the scramble to find the next Arsenal manager begins. Plenty of names are linked, from former players Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta, to unattached managers, such as Luis Enrique or Carlo Ancelotti.
However, regardless of the name of Wenger’s successor, he must have the following three attributes to find success in north London.
A Profile of The Next Arsenal Manager
Whoever he is, the next Arsenal manager is inheriting an error-prone team. On paper, the solution to this problem is simple; buy new players. However, looking beyond the statistics yields a different answer.
For example, consider Shkodran Mustafi in the league matches against Southampton and Newcastle. Specifically, the goals for Shane Long and Ayoze Perez.
Both came from simple crosses from the right flank into the box, where Mustafi covered the attacker. In both cases, the German international simply gave up on the play, allowing his mark to get to the ball first. The result? Two goals shipped.
Also consider any number of failings from Granit Xhaka. Any Gooner worth their salt will be able to name at least three or four instances from this season alone when the Swiss international was out of position or failed to cover his mark, leading to a goal.
These errors, and many more, are not so much failings in ability, at least physical ability, but rather poor judgement.
Wenger is infamous for allowing his players too much freedom. He would rather hold their hand until they figure out how to play rather than drill discipline into them. This stands in contrast to the top managers in the Premiership today.
The next Arsenal manager must be a motivator in the vein of Guardiola, lest these costly errors will not go away.
For all of the beautiful football that Wenger’s Arsenal has produced over the years, there have been some really poor displays. While a number of these farces are the result of a lack of quality in the squad, at times they are a result of poor tactics.
For example, Arsenal really struggled to break down Atlético Madrid in the Europa League semi-final first leg. One goal scored at home against a ten-man opponent is just not good enough, at least for a club wishing to re-join the ranks of Europe’s elite.
The team was short of ideas and spent the majority of the match just whipping crosses into the box, hoping a friendly head will meet the ball. This is not the game plan of a tactical genius, but rather of a manager who has lost the plot.
In fact, Wenger didn’t even make any substitutions in the match. Surely this is proof positive of a lack of tactical awareness.
Jürgen Klopp provides a good contrast in this regard. While his Liverpool side has a plethora of attacking talent, they are not of the quality to challenge for a league title, at least not yet.
However, the former Borussia Dortmund manager still managed to beat Manchester City twice this season and has one foot in the Champions League final after thrashing Roma in the semi-final first leg.
He did this by focusing his tactics on capitalizing on his club’s strengths and taking advantage of his opponent’s weaknesses.
Even if a team has weakness, a tactically aware manager can lead them to a result. The next Arsenal manager should take a lesson from Herr Klopp.
This is the one area in which the next Arsenal manager can take a page from Arsène Wenger’s book. While his critical eye may have failed him in recent seasons, the list of quality players purchased by Wenger is quite long.
With the Gunners now a dark horse to qualify for next season’s Champions League, they will likely not have a large war chest to draw from in the transfer market. Wenger’s successor must be able to sniff out a bargain.
For example, Petr Cech must be replaced. However, the team cannot afford to shell out £35 million on the position, as with Manchester City and Ederson.
This is also just one area which is in need of strengthening. Arsenal’s centre-backs are not up to par and, apart from Mohamed Elneny, have no defensive midfielders. And that is glossing over the question marks about the Egyptian’s abilities.
Fixing this club will likely take two or more transfer windows. It will also take patience, an eye for talent and frugality.
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