The difference between Kevin Keegan and Arsene Wenger is most interesting.
Keegan we are informed, hasn’t watched a match in 3 years, since the moment he left Manchester City. Mr Wenger apparently watches about 3 games a day – sometimes more.
Keegan has a reputation for cutting the reserve and youth teams (well, that is what he did at Newcastle Utd last time he was there as manager) while Wenger now has a second XI to his first team which plays in the cups, a reserve team of 17 and 18 year olds and a 4th team (rarely spoken about) who are playing on loan at a variety of clubs in the UK, Spain and sometimes Belgium.
So what does Keegan’s alternative approach have to offer? Quite honestly it is hard to say. Arsenal are built on the model of world-wide scouting, which allows the club to find (for example) a 15 year old in Mexico who is tracked, signed, moved to Spain, and so on – all to make him ready for the big time.
Arsenal can find Vieira, Henry, Fabregas and the rest, and as a result have the young players of the world queuing up to sign.
Newcastle could hope to overcome this lack of a world-wide scouting system by having mega-funds so that they can buy in the ready made article. The problem with that is that there is no way they can beat off the likes of Chelsea, QPR and Manchester United in the purchasing arrangements.
So when it comes to buying young players they will be buying second best – Arsenal having got there first. When it comes to buying quality players they will be buying second best – Chelsea etc having got there first.
Which leaves tactics. Maybe Mr Keegan knows something about tactics that Ferguson and Wenger don’t know.
Certainly the world of tactics is not one that is closed – anyone can invent a new tactical approach. Bolton invented one with rotational time-wasting. Blackburn famously did it in the FA Cup Semi-Final with rotatinal fouling. Liverpool have done it with a player rotation system that no one seems to understand, and which doesn’t really seem to produce any improvement.
Could Keegan have a tactical answer. For myself, having watched his Manchester City and his England sides, I doubt it. But if he doesn’t there is no answer at all – because he is just going to buying second rate players.
What has made Arsenal so good in recent years is, in fact, the combination of world-wide scouting and the revolutional tactical approach which has given us glimpses of “Perfect Football”. Could Mr Keegan be thinking of trying that approach? Possible – but I wouldn’t bet on it.
This blog is written by Tony Attwood. You can read more on www.emiratesstadium.info
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