Where next for Laurent Blanc?

by Mark Beegan

After successfully restoring a sense of pride to the French national team, as well as leading Les Bleus to 22 games unbeaten Laurent Blanc decided to bow out as manager of France after their underwhelming exit to Spain at Euro 2012.

Blanc’s spell in charge of Les Bleus was preceded by a hugely successful spell in charge of Bordeaux creating a functional yet entertaining side that won Ligue 1, the Coupe de la Ligue and reached the semi-final of the champion’s league.

As a manager of France he displayed an iron fist when dealing with the aftermath of the 2010 world cup, suspending all 23 players from his first squad as manager. On the pitch France topped their qualifying group while also beating England and Germany comfortably in friendlies. So despite the disappointing nature of France’s Euro 2012 Blanc’s career trajectory has undoubtedly being an upward one. The question now is what’s next for Laurent Blanc?

Blanc is an anglophile having thoroughly enjoyed his time at Manchester United. He greatly admires British football and sees it as a perfect fit for his managerial style. This indicates that Blanc himself sees his next job being at an English club.

Many in French football circles believe that Blanc would demand patience and time to put his imprint on the team from any future club. L’equipe argued on Saturday that Blanc craves a project, something long term that he can sink his teeth into. This indicates that Blanc is willing to spend some time out of the game in order to find the right club.

Indeed the desire for a chairman/owner that will allow him to grow a team, rules him out of the running for any future vacancy at Stamford Bridge. It is highly unlikely that Roman Abramovich’s unfortunate habit of getting an itchy trigger figure come February if the season is not progressing to his liking would appeal to Blanc.

While across London there is a managerial vacancy at Tottenham, Daniel Levy’s desire for a younger coach means that the Spurs job, one which Blanc would relish, is likely to pass the French man on the way to Portugal’s Andre Villas Boas.

A more likely path would seem to be Arsenal, where the patience of the board would help Blanc bed in to the unenviable task of succeeding Wenger. Blanc while being more functional than Wenger in terms of football philosophy, would appeal to Arsenal’s board because of his reserved nature yet strong personality which commands both respect and loyalty from the boardroom and dressing room.

His football while being more functional than Wenger is still entertaining and of high quality, which would appease Arsenal fans who have become accustomed to breath taking football during the Wenger reign.

During his time as manager of Bordeaux he showed an ability to scour the transfer market for hidden gems and also an ability to rehabilitate both fallen stars and youthful stars who had failed to take the next step such as Yoann Gourcuff and Alou Diarra. Arsenal would also appeal to Blanc. This appeal would only be heightened should Wenger fail to end the trophy drought. Blanc would no doubt jump at the opportunity to restore Arsenal to its former glories and put some silverware in the Emirates trophy cabinet.

Wherever Blanc does end up, he will require time to put his imprint on whatever side it is. If it’s a post Wenger Arsenal he will require time because of the loss of a legendary manager and perhaps even more of Arsenal’s stars such as RVP or Alex Song.

Should Daniel Levy go cold on AVB then Blanc will shoot to the top of the Tottenham most wanted list. If he gets the job he will more than likely have to fill a Luka Modric sized gap in the team. There is also the fact that in all likelihood Harry Redknapp had taken Spurs as high as they can go without major investment and the raising of a prohibitive wage bill.

While Blanc has more than enough self-confidence to believe that he can turn Tottenham into credible title contenders, it is hard to see how much further he could take them minus the mercurial talents of Luka Modric and the goal scoring prowess of Emmanuel Adebayor.

Blanc’s next move is of crucial importance for his career, choose correctly and he could set himself on a path to become a managerial great in the mould of Ferguson and Wenger.

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