Paul Merson believes Arsenal fans wouldn’t like to see Rafa Benitez take over from Arsene Wenger because the Spaniard ‘sets his teams up not to get beaten’ – stating they demand a manager who goes out to ‘win football matches’.
Speaking to TalkSPORT, here’s what the former Arsenal man had to say about Benitez, admitting he is ‘one of the top managers’, yet someone who would not be well received by Arsenal fans.
“I like Benitez – he is one of the top managers.
“I just think Arsenal [fans] want to see entertaining football, and I know this might sound a bit silly, but they want to see teams who go out to win football matches.
“Benitez sort of sets his teams up – even at Liverpool – not to get beaten, and you go from there.
“Arsenal fans are staying away at the moment because it’s not entertaining enough, and I think they will need someone with a little bit more flair.
“They need someone with longevity – someone who will get a four or five year contract and stay there – because you don’t want a Manchester United situation, where they change the manager many times quickly after Sir Alex Ferguson.”
It’s laughable really. So these Arsenal fans demand flair and attacking sides, yet the main reasons they’re not winning Premier League titles and struggling to keep ahead of Burnley in the league is because of their total inability to defend – something Benitez would soon sort out.
It’s all hypothetical, as Benitez won’t be joining Arsenal anytime soon, but some of Merson’s reasoning is odd to say the least.
They (Arsenal fans) want a team that goes out to ‘win football matches’ says Merson, but does Paul actually think Rafa sets up for draws each week? Benitez sides may have a more cautious approach, but he knows how to win a game of football (see Sunday’s game).
A tiny part of me sees what he’s trying to get at, with Arsenal fans having nearly always been spoilt by brilliant attacking play under Wenger, but surely they’re wise enough to realise that this gung-ho approach hasn’t been working.