Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Moving On- Laudrup is the man to replace Arsene Wenger

Although Arsenal’s fan base still remains very divided regarding the predicament of the Frenchman- who has taken sports writers’ columns by storm following Arsenal’s recent defeats to Blackburn and Bayern Munich, there is a growing realisation that the end of the tenure of Arsenal’s is nearing its twilight, and that even if the club wish to try and retain the services of Wenger, it certainly seems unlikely that he will be around for another 16 years.

Only time will how the distinctive Wenger’s legacy of Arsene Wenger will be viewed, but there is no doubt that he has had a great influence on the way things have been done at the club- too much of an influence, some would say- and this means that he will leave a large void when his departure ultimately arrives, and whatever you think of him at the moment, he will certainly not be easy to replace, and indeed, I believe that choosing his successor will be a crucial decision in the history of Arsenal Football Club, as we must try and find a man who is able turn Arsenal into winners again, and create his own legacy in the process. So will our board of directors pick out an obscure gem, like Wenger once was, a young up and coming starlet  or will they turn to a manager who already has experience and working across the ever-changing expanses of European Football. These questions will be answered in time, but currently I believe there would be no better man to lead Arsenal than the Great Dane- Micheal Laudrup.

A man with a highly prestigious playing career, Laudrup won an incredible five straight La Liga titles with Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as playing 104 times for Denmark- a nation who in 2006, placed upon him the accolade of being their greatest ever player. As a player Laudrup clearly knew how to win, a trait which seems to have deserted Arsenal in recent years, and could be a characteristic that could be huge asset for any new manager.

Laudrup has also recently transferred this winning mentality to management, with his Swansea side’s ruthless, cutting-edge displays in the League Cup- in which they recently demolished Bradford City at Wembley to pick up the club’s first major trophy in its history. This win also showed Laudrup’s hunger for trophies and the emphasis he is willing to place on the domestic trophies, a desire which some may Arsene Wenger has lacked slightly in recent times.

Laudrup’s managerial CV prior to his brief reign at Swansea is also underestimated by many. Laufrup started out his career in management as the assistant coach of his native Denmark- a role in which he was seen as big success, he and Morten Olsen masterminding Denmark’s progression to the knock-out stages of the 2002 World Cup. This excellent result led to Laudrup’s appointment as manager of Danish Superliga side  Brøndby in the same year. In his first season with the club, Laudrup led the team to the Danish Cup, and a strong second-place finish in the Superliga, as well as claiming the Danish manager of the year award. In the following season, Laudrup again led Brøndby to a second-place finish in the Danish superliga, this time just a single point behind winners FC Copenhagen. However, he finally led his side to the Superliga title in the 2004-05 season, in which he also managed to complete a double, winning his second Danish Cup in four seasons, this again led to Laudrup being voted Danish manager of the year. After finishing runners-up in the 2005-06 Danish Superliga, Laudrup decided not to renew his contract at Brøndby, and in July 2007, he was unveiled as the new manger of Madrid’s third football club- Getafe.

Despite not being known as a powerhouse in Spanish football, Laudrup led Getafe to a reasonable success, reaching the Copa Del Rey final- in which they lost out to Valencia- and the quarter-final of the EUFA Cup, where they were defeated by Bayern Munich. However, he only stayed one season at getafe before moving swiftly onto Spartak Moscow.

However, Laudrup’s spell at the Russian club proved to be perhaps the one blemish on his managerial CV, as he was sacked in April 2009 following Spartak’s 3-0 defeat to Dinamo Moscow in the quarter-final of the Russian Cup.

In July 2010, Laudrup entered his next mangerial post, returning to Spain to manage RCD Mallorca. In his one and only season with the club, Laudrup managed to help Mallorca retain their place in La Liga against the odds, after the club had had to sell many of theirkey first-team players due to major financial problems, which had also led to the club’s ejection from the EUFA cup. At the beginning of the 2011-12 season Laudrup resigned following the suprise sacking of his assistant, which led to a fallout with the club’s director of football. In June 2012, Laudrup then became Swansea manager, where his superb work has been showcased for all English football fans to see.

As well as his rather impressive CV, Laudrup’s footballing philosphy also makes him an excellent fit for Arsenal. Known widely for his elegance, creativity and technical prowess as a player, Laudrup has clearly implemented the philosophy he flourished under as a player in his managerial career, promoting a short-passing game in all the post he has held- from his job as assissant manager of Denmark to his current job at Swansea. And although there are many things that Gooners may disagree with Arsene Wenger on, one clear pint of mutual agreement is our appreciation of the possession football that Le Professor has brought to the fore at Arsenal, and I believe this is something that most Gooners would want to see continue under Arsenal’s next manager.

If there is one downside to Laudrup, it is his possibly lack of loyalty to the clubs he has managed. I said earlier that the next manager of Arsenal must try and create his own legacy, and as Laudrup has only stayed in many of his managerial posts for a single season before moving on to bigger things, it is questionable that Laudrup would have the desire and commitment to do this, and may simply use Arsenal as a stepping stone before taking over at one of his former clubs Barcelona or Real Madrid. Although, with potentially vast resources at his disposal (all 123 million of them) if the board will let him use them, Laudrup could achieve great success at Arsenal and take them back to Europe’s top table, so possibly there would be no motivation to move on.

So with a highly attractive blend of intelligence, managerial experience across mainland Europe, a stylish and excitng philosphy, a burning desire for success and an infectious enthusiasm and likeability, I strongly Micheal Laudrup to be the best candidate currently available to replace Arsene Wenger. But be warned, if we don’t act fast and decisively, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dane made his move to one of European football’s top brass before we can lure him to North London.

Follow me on Twitter @goonerwalker

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