(Photo credit: REUTERS/CRAIG BROUGH)
We have been here before. In 1996, David Dein convinced the Arsenal board that a little known-Frenchman could be the man to take the club to the next level.
More than twenty years after the ‘Arsène Who?’ headlines, the Gunners could be on the verge of another left-field signing.
On Tuesday morning, reports in the Bosnian press suggested that Zeljko Buvac was on course to be appointed as Wenger’s successor.
Jurgen Klopp’s assistant had already made headlines this week, after taking a leave of absence from Liverpool for personal reasons.
Even if he wanted to leave Liverpool, Klopp would surely fight tooth and nail to keep the man he reveres as his coaching ‘brain'. But would he be a good fit at Arsenal?
Two decades ago, Klopp and Buvac made a pact. Whoever went into coaching first could call on the other as his assistant.
The men have been inseparable since overachieving at provincial minnows Mainz before restoring Dortmund to the Bundesliga title.
Reams have been written about the pair’s ‘Gegenpressing' system, but the question is whether it would even work in North London.
At present, the Arsenal squad lack the precise ingredients that make it a success; determination, stamina and complete subservience to a rigid tactical aim.
The Gunners have been coddled under a flimsy regime for years. In some cases, Wenger’s laissez-faire approach is all they’ve been taught.
Buvac bringing the noise?
Whilst Buvac might play a crucial role in Klopp’s managerial brain trust, branching out on his own would involve a more rounded skillset.
The Gegenpressing system would be nothing if it didn’t have Klopp chomping and stomping it into force on the touchline.
Buvac is far more reserved and it remains to seen if he has the charisma necessary to rally a group of players for whom he will be a mostly unknown quantity.
Thrown in at the deep end
Nobody will begrudge Buvac the opportunity to start out on his own managerial career if indeed he wants to at all. Crucial will be his choice of club.
Whoever assumes Wenger’s mantle will be met with a fanbase that is short on patience, having been spoilt with a brand of attacking football which few have been able to implement successfully. As first jobs go, it couldn’t be a more difficult proposition.
Appointing the Serb would be an extraordinarily brave move from a club that has been stultified by muddled decision making for a decade. Even with the talent-spotting of recruitment director Sven Mislintat and the corporate acumen of Director of Football Raúl Sanllehi, he would face a mammoth task.
CEO Ivan Gazidis, however, might see the merits in appointing a manager lacking the profile and clout to represent a challenge to his new order.
Any potential move for Buvac would be offset by the knowledge that any coaching failure will be the South African’s failure too. He is therefore unlikely to betroth the managerial seat to a man that is completely unproven as a ‘number one’.
Buvac may be a fabulous manager at this moment, however, he is too much of an unknown to be entrusted with a club at its most crucial juncture in decades.
Do you think Buvac would be a hit in Islington? Let us know by commenting below.