Ears around European football pricked up as soon as Max Allegri’s departure as Juventus manager was announced at the end of last season.
In Turin, Allegri became a managerial giant, leading the Bianconeri to five straight Serie A titles as well as two Champions League finals. It was therefore unsurprising that with the 52-year-old now unattached, a number of elite clubs were linked.
Indeed, Allegri has this season become a staple of the managerial gossip column. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid have all, at one point or another since the end of last season, been reportedly interested in the Italian, but it’s the link with Arsenal that has proved most persistent, particularly in recent weeks.
The Gunners need a new manager with Unai Emery sacked after a run of seven games without a win. Arsenal’s squad slowly but surely lost faith in the Spaniard. By the end, it was only a matter of time until Emery was pushed out the door and so it transpired. Now, the club’s board must choose a new direction.
Allegri will surely be on any managerial shortlist drawn up, but would he be the right man for the Arsenal job? Luring the Italian ahead of the likes of Bayern Munich and Man Utd might prove tough given the Gunners’ current status and position, but would the former AC Milan and Juventus boss be worth the fuss?
A culture of mediocrity has been allowed to fester at Arsenal in recent years. Allegri, however, is a hardened winner, proven by his track record in Italy. He is also capable of handling big egos in the dressing room and of handling the pressure that comes with being the manager of one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The same can’t be said of Emery who has looked out of his depth at both Arsenal and PSG.
Allegri is a pragmatist as a coach. He has no trademark formation or philosophy. That might grate with some Arsenal fans who still their club as a bastion of all that is pure about the game, but Allegri might be exactly what the Gunners need at this point. Their squad is strong enough to challenge for a top-four place. They just need someone to mould an effective unit from it. Allegri would certainly stand a better chance than Emery of doing this.
At Juve, Allegri favoured a 4-3-3 shape in possession that became more of a compact 4-4-2 or even 4-5-1 out of possession. He believes shape is more important than controlling the ball.
Again, this might go against the grain of Arsenal’s identity, but what has their identity done for them recently? Allegri isn’t the most natural of Arsenal managers, but that might be exactly what makes him perfect for the job.