It would be poetic, sure. Arsene Wenger, the cuckolded coach joining the club he turned down repeatedly whilst at Arsenal. Few neutrals would deny the 68-year-old the chance of sitting in the Bernabeu dugout, particularly given the crowing of those Gunners fans that bayed for his departure.
There’s no such thing as poetry in modern football, however. Wenger, for all his easy class and weary knowledge, is an idol from a fallen era. Here are five reasons why he wouldn’t fit in at Real Madrid.
1 He lacks 'capital'
Any suggestion that Wenger, inculcator of the Invincibles, paradigm shifter of English football, lacks capital and credibility is patently absurd. Well, it would be outside of the plastic reality of the sport right now.
By the time his reign in North London was finally euthanised, the narrative about Wenger’s tenure had ossified. A great manager ten years ago, yes, but dangerously outdated now.
His record contrasts starkly with that of Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine hasn’t won anything, but until this year his teams have always progressed. He is very much ‘on the way up’ whilst Wenger is the opposite.
It means that, should he be appointed at Madrid, the Frenchman would be granted the shortest of honeymoon periods by a squad that’s acquainted with winning things.
2 He would lack autonomy
In the latter half of his Arsenal stay, Wenger’s power became all-consuming. Even majority shareholder Stan Kroenke was in his thrall, with the American convinced only by the careful manoeuvres of his son Josh and the exasperated CEO Ivan Gazidis.
Wenger would arrive in Madrid without allies, at a club where networks are everything and the politicking is constant. Ask Vicente del Bosque or Carlo Ancelotti how accommodating Florentino Pérez is. Their answers would be short and not especially flattering.
Wenger, lacking the kind of autonomy he so enjoyed with the Gunners, would surely struggle within this confined role, answerable to the whims of a tempestuous president.
3 He would lack the ability to effect change
Throughout his career, Wenger has always prioritised the well-being of his employers, even when it puts his own interests in jeopardy.
It’s an admirable trait, but it is borne out of a deep concern for the sustainability of the organisations he stewards. If he were appointed as Real boss, Wenger would have precious little input on any off-field matters.
Coaches don’t build legacies in Madrid. They don’t implement a policy of youth development or place their faith in a footballing style. Los Merengues’ only policy is winning, and their only style is success; there is no room for any divergent interpretation. For a man with stringent views on how football should be played, this could prove anathema
4 He would be a stop-gap for Guti
A disappointment in his playing days, Guti has proven far more impressive as a coach. The former midfielder led the Real Madrid Under-19s to a historic double last year and is widely seen as an eventual ascendant to the senior job. Whilst it might be too soon this time around, a rocky six months under Wenger could elevate the Spaniard’s candidacy even further.
The Frenchman, who was prickly enough at the prospect of having a Director of Football at Arsenal, may not appreciate working with someone that has already been identified as his successor.
5 The France job might be available
Few commentators expect Didier Deschamps to return to the Stade de France once the World Cup has ended. The former Juventus midfielder has had a frustrating time as Les Bleus coach, struggling to unite a disparate squad into a coherent and cohesive unit.
Regardless of how France perform in Russia, he will surely leave. The resulting vacancy might not offer the daily interaction with the players that Wenger craves, but it might just provide him with the level of control and influence afforded to him for the past 22 years.
Wenger is the most respected and successful coach to ever emerge from his country. The 68-year-old could have a real say in how France grooms and invests its next generation of talent. For a man that has built his career on the sculpting of young prospects into world-beaters, it could prove a tantalising proposal.
Where next for Wenger? Let us know where you think he will go below.
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