Recent troubles in the camp at Real Madrid have opened the door to the probably departure of Jose Mourinho but, along with that, comes the question of who will come in to replace him at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Daily Mail and the Daily Express have been running stories linking Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to the position but I find very little in the way of evidence to support these suggestion.
In fact, quite to the contrary, there are far more reasons why that will not happen than reasons to suspect it might.
Firstly, I have to wonder why Wenger would be considered a candidate in the first place. He, along with German international coach Joachim Low are reportedly the top targets.
Arsene Wenger has been linked with a move to the Spanish champions for many years – the ‘Wenger to Madrid’ narrative has been doing the rounds for the best part of a decade. When Wenger and his Arsenal side of 2001/02 won their second double of his reign, Wenger was one of the hottest managerial properties in the world.
He was courted by the French national team along with a number of the continent’s most prestigious and elite clubs. Flash-forward to 2013 and the Gunners boss has not won anything in 7 years and is currently steering a ship that is sinking – not entirely as a result of his management but certainly he has been the architect of the club’s downfall as much as he was the architect of their rise to the top.
I’m not suggesting that Wenger isn’t still one of the finest football managers in the world but his reputation as a pioneer and a specialist within his field is rapidly diminishing. Outside England he is still regarded as a top manager but I’m not entirely sure he would be a primary target for Real Madrid.
Secondly, Wenger still has two years to run on his contract at Arsenal and, despite intense criticism from the fans, the media, and even his departing players; he has the full support of the board, the owner and the chief executive.
Arsenal Football Club will not sack him under any circumstances and, if and when he does step down, he will likely remain upstairs in some capacity where he can preside over his legacy. The Frenchman is also a very proud and principled man who is highly unlikely to resign – he will fulfill his contractual obligations.
Another point that needs addressing is the huge gulf between the philosophies of the parties involved. Arsene Wenger operates within an essentially socialist model, philosophy ad structure which he built himself at Arsenal because he firmly believes in its’ efficiency, effectiveness, and moral superiority.
Like Barcelona, he prefers to develop talent and promote from within to buying ready-made personnel. That goes from the top to the bottom of the club – they bring in potential and develop it. They look for sustainability – economically, socially, and politically.
That is the main reason why they preferred owner Stan Kroenke to take the majority share hold instead of Alisher Usmanov. It was, in many ways, the lesser of two evils – the club operates and maintains its independence and autonomy.
I mentioned Barcelona as the model template that Wenger brought to Arsenal – Barcelona’s long and bitter rivalry with Real Madrid has nothing much to do with geography which is usually the basis of tribal rivalries, especially in football.
The El Classico fixture is, at its core, a political battle and always has been. Real Madrid were financed for decades by the fascists General Franco regime and, during his reign, the club became an unofficial sports branch of the Falange movement he Franco brought with him.
The Catalan people were always in opposition of Franco because his policies oppressed and marginalized them economically, socially, and politically. If you look at the list of world record transfer fees Real Madrid are the buying club in four of the top five (Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zinadine Zidane, and Luis Figo).
Whilst Franco was ousted in 1973, Real still benefit from the financial backing they received from him, in the form of bank loans and investors –that is the residual of that connection.
Their philosophy is the complete antithesis of what Arsene Wenger has created at Arsenal and, being the principled and morally righteous man he is, he will never ever take a job at Real Madrid.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald