By Tom Wilde – @TWilde91
The football rumour mills have been hard at work since Pep Guardiola parted ways with Barcelona linking him with a host of clubs; most recently Arsenal. The Spaniard is on what is probably the most documented holiday in human history right now, and will be starting to consider his next move in the football world.
While it could be that it is a match made in heaven, it is a link brought about due to Arsenal hell. Their disastrous League Cup exit to Bradford on Tuesday night, despite fielding a pretty much full strength eleven, was nothing short of embarrassing for the troubled club. Arsenal offered very little for most of the evening, lacking commitment, aggression, fluidity and even interest at times.
It has been the same old story for Arsene Wenger’s side recently. Eight barren years in the trophy room is starting to get to the Arsenal faithful. It is this lack of silverware that has led to them repeatedly losing their best players, most recently Robin Van Persie who trotted up North to Manchester this Summer, just as Samir Nasri had done the previous summer. This was happily picked up by Bradford’s fans last night, taunting Arsenal with “Robin Van Persie, he left cause’ you’re shit!”.
While this is very amusing, it has a large degree of truth to it. Arsenal fans can often now be heard singing “we want our Arsenal back,” perhaps referring to the side that was once feared and stood atop England’s elite. Clearly, Arsenal’s fans want change.
It appears that this then, could be Arsene Wenger’s final season with the Gunners, so what next? Recently, Guardiola has been mentioned as a possible successor to the Frenchman. Others have asked why he would want to choose Arsenal over the unlimited resources of Manchester City or Chelsea. Or why he wouldn’t fancy his chances in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. The North London club could, however, be considered the perfect gig for him.
No team in the world has been compared more closely to Barcelona in terms of their style of football in recent years than Arsenal. Fast moving, possession football is what Arsene Wenger has spent so long implementing. Pep could simply come in and get to work at trying to perfect it using his methods, and bringing in his pressing style. Instead of trying to start from scratch with other teams.
What will go in his favour when he takes charge of his next side is his reputation. Guardiola comes as the man who transformed this generation of Barcelona into potentially the greatest club football team in history, winning La Liga three years in a row and the Champions League twice in four seasons. Wherever he goes he will be highly respected by everyone. Players will want to play for him and will be more than willing to work harder than they have done before for him.
This reputation will also give Arsenal their star pulling power back. In recent years they simply have not been able to compete with the likes of Chelsea or the Manchester’s when it comes to bringing in big name players. While some will tell you this is for financial reasons, have a quick look at Arsenal’s accounts and you’ll see they aren’t as far behind in terms of what wages they can offer as Wenger might like you to believe. If Arsenal were able to snatch Guardiola, I’m sure they’d be willing to give him any funds he needs.
With Pep at the helm Arsenal would have no trouble attracting better players, meaning they’d be able to lose some of the dead wood that has blighted the squad in recent seasons too. On a personal level the job suits Pep too; he couldn’t stand the pressure that came with managing Barcelona, from the media and fans. No such pressure or expectations at Arsenal. The media and fans will not expect anyone, even Pep, to be able to make Arsenal world beaters overnight. He may not have the same time or pressure-free environments to work under in Manchester, Munich or West London.
While the Arsenal squad may not be as strong as their competitors, it certainly has some fantastic players in it: Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukasz Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott. All gifted players. If a manager can get these players performing as a unit then they could be a match for anyone. The potential is there to build upon. Arsenal are also known for their ability to produce young talent too. Who knows, maybe he could uncover the next Sergio Busquets, Pedro or, dare we say it, Lionel Messi within Arsenal’s academy?
While we may not find out for another five or six months where Pep Guardiola intends to head once he’s finished his stint as tourist in New York, it is sure to be an interesting decision. One that will have all football fans excited and eager to see the great man back in the dugout. One thing is for sure, Arsenal could certainly be doing with him, and he could do a lot worse than Arsenal.
Is Pep Guardiola and Arsenal a match made in heaven? Where do you see Guardiola going? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below.