When the news started doing the rounds that Marcelino had jetted into London around midnight CAT to the dismay of many Arsenal fans. I also found myself failing to fall asleep dreading that he may well and truly be named the next manager, until I remembered he is also linked with the Everton job. I then managed to fall asleep, enough about my sleeping patterns.
Let’s have a look at the man who seems for now to be the favourite for Arsenal.
Who is Marcelino?
Marcelino García Toral is a 54-year-old Spanish national who is no stranger to management having managed for 22 years. He is somewhat a journeyman having coached eight teams during the period and serving two of those sides on two separate occasions. As a player he played as a central attacking midfielder, he never earned a cap for the Spanish national team and never played for any of the traditional Spanish powerhouses.
What does he represent?
Marcelino is a very demanding manager, that’s the one thing many have noticed about him. At Valencia he was obsessive over the weight and physical condition of his players. He is a huge proponent of the tracking of psychical conditions of professional sports players, it is a trend now worldwide but under Marcelino its more obsessive than progressive. Even with the game in that phase now, Marcelino and his team tracked and controlled every detail of the team’s fitness. With tests conducted daily, and results of their weight pinned on notice boards at training grounds worldwide. He was so strict that stories circulated that players would starve themselves or start the day in the sauna, scared of the repercussions of having gained weight.
He is not a manager who is afraid to call out his players publicly if that needs to be done. Marcelino is a disciplinarian and a man in control of his dressing room. He is a very self-assured individual who is willing to butt heads with is employers when it comes to doing what he thinks is right, even if it means he will lose his job. This has been the case at his last two stops along his management journey. He was sacked by Villareal August 2016 after sticking to his guns when he had removed Mateo Musacchio from captaincy, despite the board’s disapproval. At Valencia the same thing happened, 11 September 2019 Marcelino was sacked once again because of disagreements with the club owner Peter Lim, despite winning the club’s first piece of silverware in 11 years and guiding the club to back-to-back fourth-place finishes in La Liga. So, it wasn’t the performances.
He is also a very good man manager having been the reason behind some player’s resurgence/improvement at Valencia and Villareal. At Valencia for example, he took players who had something to prove such as Gonçalo Guedes, Simone Zaza, Rodrigo, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Neto, Dani Parejo and José Luis Gayá who all saw an uptick in consistency over the two seasons under the Spanish manager.
What are his tactics?
Marcelino is a good tactician and he clearly is a highly demanding manager who asks a lot from his players. He favours 4-4-2 which depends squarely on his team’s stamina, speed and agility goes a long way in making sure his team is as effective as it should be. Marcelino wants his team to have the ball but not just possession for the sake of it, he wants his side to take the initiative with the ball and almost expects them to get into a position to get a shot off with every opportunity on the ball. He also wants his to not be afraid to lose the ball he demands they get it back when they lose it, the two banks of four behind in the strikers don’t press to get the ball quickly but defend compactly closing off space. This is used to force the opposition to play wide where a press can be initiated, and a counterattack can be launched from. Upon getting the ball back counterattacks are launched with lighting speed as all the players are aware of their role in getting the ball up the pitch. Good passing and interplay between the players in the counterattacks made them a problem for the opposition.
The bottom line on Marcelino’s tactics, he knows what he wants from his team and makes sure he gets it.
Before I give you my verdict on Marcelino, I asked our La Liga expert Taona Teekay about what Arsenal fans can expect from Marcelino, and this is what he had to say about him-:
With proper support from the board via transfers Marcelino should be able to make the top four comfortably, playing very enjoyable football that will over the fans. Unlike Emery there is nothing pragmatic about how Marcelino’s play he wants to have a strong connection with the fans and understands that they are the wind in the player’s sails. He will give them something to look forward to every week at a club like Arsenal. He is small in stature, but he has a larger than life mentality, that just brushes off on his players. He can be an immediate positive pick it at this time in the season.
To challenge for the title, he will need great help from Arsenal Football Club board, something that doesn’t happen all the time. But like any other manager who will fill the vacancy left by Unai Emery, the current Arsenal squad will need huge improvements personnel wise.
Marcelino García Toral is not a yes man, and there has been a feeling that the Arsenal owners and board would prefer someone who is a bit mellow and a company man, this maybe a quality fans would like. News coming out of The Athletic’s number one Arsenal correspondent David Ornstein’s Monday round up article spoke about of Unai Emery’s summer transfer targets that were vetoed by the club’s executives. Would Marcelino go down without a fight? I doubt he would tow the line if he feels he is being held back in anyway. Arsenal may not like that, but it shows that he is demanding manager.
A very good man manager, as shown by win percentage average of 46,39% over his long career with limited resources at that. Can he get Arsenal back in the top four as he did in back to back seasons with Valencia? Maybe.
In closing, Arsenal should steer clear of Marcelino, the football foundation is there but he is not a tall enough building to get the backing of the fans from the onset and his resume is clearly dwarfed by the other top six managers bar Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer and this is an area where Arsenal must make sure is ticked by their new manager.