***Editor's Note: We will occasionally promote (and edit) outstanding FanPosts on the main page. I've deemed this post sufficiently interesting to merit front-page status. Enjoy! -Gabe***
Rumor seems to be the most common and stable currency circulating in the realm of European club football, more so than in any other sport, particularly during transfer window time. Yet the often ugly swirl of rumor and recrimination surrounding Jose Mourinho's stint as Real Madrid manager (although it has to be said that Mourinho's antagonistic nature has done him no favors) stands out as being particularly relentless, charged and, so far, empty. But when I saw Xabi Alonso sulk purposefully past him on his way off the pitch after being substituted against Zaragoza I started to wonder whether the latest batch of rumors and rumblings concerning a rift between the Spanish and Portuguese players in the side might actually signal real trouble at the top of La Liga's table. Xabi's eye-opening exit was even more jarring considering that it came after Madrid's stirring, inspired rally against Barca the previous Wednesday, wherein Los Blancos definitively outplayed their rivals in the 2nd half of that match, emphatically coalescing around their crest and even, it seemed, their embattled manager. I really hope Xabi was just tired and I'm overreacting to and/or misreading his body language.
Almost like clockwork, though, reports started to emerge through various outlets on Sunday that Mourinho had decided to go back to England at season's end. These rumors ran headlong into the ones suggesting that Florentino Perez had once again, allegedly, decided to reach out to Arsene Wenger, aided this time in his pursuit by the Gunners exceedingly shaky league form. This made me start to wonder what a Los Blancos side led by Wenger would look like.
The one major advantage I came up with is that for every player like Karim Benzema that has flourished under Mourinho there is a baffling counterexample of a player like Mesut Ozil who has continued to develop almost in spite of Mourinho's erratic deployment of him. Development of young talent is the key area where I feel Wenger could be an improvement over Mourinho, if this hypothetical switch eventually did happen. And let's not forget that the core of this Madrid team (Ozil, di Maria, Khedira, Marcelo, Coentrao, and Benzema) is indeed still very young, so proper development is paramount. I feel that Mourinho's methods and overall system are generally better suited to veteran laden team like the Inter side he coaxed a treble out of. Tactically Mourinho is superior, but I could definitely see Wenger doing a better job helping a player like Ozil reach his full potential, as I'm in complete agreement with my spiritual advisor Ray Hudson that Mesut is an absolute diamond that should never be left out of Madrid's lineup. One should look no further than to the precipitous drop in Samir Nasri's form at Manchester City, despite being surrounded by considerable talent, to gauge the impact Wenger's guidance can have on a player. As Madrid fans we are all seeing the results of Wenger's ability to hone to the immense talents of a player like Cesc Fabregas into a sharp, deadly edge. I believe Ozil has that level of innate talent.
This is not to imply that Arsene Wenger's developmental track record is perfect (see Theo Walcott, although I'm a little on the fence about culpable he is) or that his overall philosophy is without flaws (defending against set-pieces have been an Arsenal weakness for years now). It just struck me that in this one crucial area he could be viewed as an upgrade.
What do you think, Madridistas?