Arsène Wenger’s contract will not expire until the summer of 2019. However, fans are already brimming with anticipation of Arsenal‘s next manager.
Plenty of names are in contention; Max Allegri, Maurizio Sarri, Luis Enrique, Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche and the list goes on. However, there is one link which can be safely discarded even at this early stage. That is former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel.
Arsenal’s Next Manager Won’t be Thomas Tuchel
A Brief History
Tuchel began his coaching career at Stuttgart with their U19 side. He spent five years with the youth setup there, before joining Augsburg as the youth-team coordinator.
He eventually got his first taste of managing as in the 2007-2008 season as he was appointed as first-team coach for Augsburg II. This brief stint was enough for Mainz to hire him as first-team manager in 2009.
Tuchel spent five very respectable seasons at Mainz, finishing in the top half of the table in three of them. He also qualified for the Europa League twice.
Despite his tenure ending with a dissolution of his contract, the German did enough to catch the attention of Borussia Dortmund. Die Schwarzgelben signed their man just weeks after Jurgen Klopp’s decision to step away from the club in April 2015.
Tuchel spent two tumultuous seasons at Dortmund, capturing the DFB-Pokal in 2017, his first piece of silverware. However, after a fall-out with club owners, he found himself unemployed.
Tuchel Loves Youth
There are a few reasons that Thomas Tuchel would be an attractive option for Arsenal’s next manager. Firstly, he has always trusted youth players, an emphasis throughout the Gunners’ history.
For example, Julian Weigl became one of the Bundesliga’s best young midfielders under Tuchel. He acted as the main pivot in his teams, allowing the wide players and the other central midfielders freedom to exploit space further up the pitch.
Weigl also tends to occupy the space in front of the defence, providing the team with defensive solidity. A very similar situation came about with Francis Coquelin in the 2015-2016 season in North London.
After being recalled from loan, the French midfielder quickly became one of the most important players for Wenger. The similar emergence of Weigl can be attributed to Tuchel, who showed faith in the youngster almost immediately.
Secondly, Tuchel deployed an attractive brand of football at both Mainz and Dortmund which would somewhat emulate the possession-based attacking game Arsène Wenger deploys.
Dortmund were a counter-attacking machine during Klopp’s tenure. However, when Tuchel took over, he brought with him a more possession-based approach.
While the team still pressed fiercely when needed, they also used ball retention as a weapon to open up spaces. Intelligent runs from the likes of Kagawa, Mkhitaryan, Gündogan, Reus and Aubameyang added to the effect.
When opposition closed the centre of the park down, Dortmund could easily switch play wide and create overloads to by-pass the defence.
Arsenal have almost always had players skilful enough to emulate this style of play. Therefore, Tuchel would be able to use the current crop to great effect, especially in attack.
Reinvigoration of Players
Finally, fans will recall the re-emergence of players under Tuchel at Dortmund compared to their final year under Klopp.
In this case, Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be the best example. After joining from Shakhtar Donetsk, the Armenian couldn’t match his price tag with his play on the pitch. However, that all changed when Tuchel arrived at Dortmund.
In the 2015-2016 season, Mkhitaryan created 15 assists in the league alone, earning him the Bundesliga Player of the Season award. Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gündogan also seemed like men reborn, earning big-money moves to Bayern Munich and Manchester City, respectively.
The current crop of Arsenal players certainly seem to need a fresh start. Performances are inconsistent and players are not playing up to their ability, resulting in borderline embarrassing results.
Tuchel would likely bring a fresh attitude, which could potentially kick-start this Arsenal team.
The Mislintat Problem
For all his positive attributes, Thomas Tuchel has one big problem if he wants to be Arsenal’s next manager. A certain former colleague named Sven.
Sven Mislintat started at Arsenal in December after leaving the Signal Iduna Park in November. He serves as the team’s Head of Recruitment.
Mislintat and Tuchel had a training ground bust-up in January 2016 over Oliver Torres. The Swede wished to sign the then-Atletico Madrid player to replace Gündogan.
However, the manager didn’t agree and the argument became so heated that he handed Mislintat a training ground ban. The incident reportedly factored in the board’s decision to sack Thomas Tuchel.
Perhaps the two could shake hands and make up, however, that seems unlikely at the moment. Sven Mislintat has gained a certain degree of authority already at Arsenal.
“We knew every player in Europe, even before Sven came to us. Sometimes in a little club in Germany, he might know somebody that we might ignore.”
If this was a Wenger signing, surely the Frenchman would have something positive to say. Instead, he more or less dismissed the influence Mislintat had already gained at the club.
The two other January signings had a certain Swedish flavour to them as well. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were both signed by Dortmund at Mislintat’s behest. It is telling by the timing of the duo signing for the club and the scout’s appointment that Mislintat also had a strong hand in the decision to sign both players.
The reshuffling of authority and responsibility behind the scenes at Arsenal is well-documented. With Sven Mislintat taking on a very important recruitment role, keeping him happy is surely a priority.
Despite the obvious on-field advantages that Tuchel could bring to Arsenal, the Mislintat problem looks too great to overcome. Whether or not Arsène Wenger will remain at the club this summer seems doubtful.
However, Thomas Tuchel as Arsenal’s next manager is even more so.
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