Why Arsenal should consider women’s boss Montemurro if Emery goes
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I’ve been a huge fan of Joe Montemurro for a while now. During and after Sunday’s north London derby win against Tottenham Hotspur, the Arsenal Women’s boss showed that he is everything fans wanted Unai Emery to be, and that he should be in the conversation to take over if the Spaniard goes. Here’s why.
"I think we play for the supporters. I think that football is a game but want to transmit intensity on the pitch to the supporters, to score goals. With personality. This personality for all the minutes of a match: protagonists. I like the possession with the ball, I like good pressing against the other team."
This is what was promised by Unai Emery back in May last year. 18 months on and Arsenal's men's side could not be further away from the dossier laid out by the ex-PSG boss.
But, if you watch Joe Montemurro's Arsenal Women, they are everything Emery wanted, and everything his side should aspire to be.
Against Tottenham at the New White Hart Lane they were far from their brilliant and devastating best - something that Montemurro acknowledge - but by no means did they put in a performance as woeful as we've seen on a consistent basis from Emery's team this season.
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Far from it in fact, as they showed just how it should be done.
The two manager's styles somewhat mirror each other, wanting their teams to play exciting, attacking football that starts from the back and stays mostly on the floor.
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Unlike their male counterparts, central defenders Leah Williamson and Jennifer Beattie moved the ball out from the back with ease, helped by the width and positioning of full-backs Lisa Evans and Katie McCabe.
If it didn't go to them it went to Lia Walti, who then found the talented Jordan Nobbs or captain fantastic Kim Little occupying space between the lines to hurt Tottenham.
Then the front three of Beth Mead, Danielle van de Donk and Vivianne Miedema came into the play, alternating and rotation their positions to create confusion among the Tottenham defence.
It was a joy to watch and it actually worked, two things that certainly can't be said of the men's side.
Credit must go to Montemurro, who has clearly drilled his side to play the style he wants and more importantly to play for him. That much was clear at the final whistle in N17, as he joined in the celebrations by applauding the 3,000 away fans and congratulating every single one of his players individually.
The Australian is an Arsenal man too - something that I think should be taken into consideration when deciding on the next first-team manager.
He's been with the club since 2017, winning two trophies, and has supported the club since the age of seven when his brother returned home with a replica kit, and this showed during the celebrations yesterday.
He also changed tactics during the game when things weren't going as planned, something that Emery has rightfully been lamented for not doing this season.
Montemurro got van de Donk and Mead to play closer to Miedema, while Little and Nobbs pushed on to help get the Gunners up the pitch and take the game to Tottenham. It worked too.
And then to the presser, where journalists such as myself get a glimpse of managers as people, not just those who stand suited and booted on the touchline barking instructions.
Australia Montemurro was on top form as the media gather in the swanky auditorium in the bowels of Spurs' £1.3b stadium.
He started by expressing his disappointment with his side's performance despite the victory, but praised the high standard they have set themselves.
He then went on to talk up a clash with European powerhouses Lyon in the Champions League, share a joke with fellow journalist Layth Yousif, boldly claim that he nor anyone else for that matter should be scared of Chelsea's new signing Sam Kerr and point out reporters such as myself who had been waiting a fair old while to ask a question.
Montemurro was charismatic, entertaining, confident, firm, to the point and honest, things that Emery has not been during his pressers this season.
Yes, there is the issue of the language barrier for Emery, but it was like a breath of fresh air to listen to an Arsenal manager who answers the questions asked to him and doesn't give a near delusional view on the game
You've also got to look at the recruitment and the impact he's had on the squad since his arrival, as it shows yet another impressive side to his management.
As well as bringing in established players such as Walti, Jill Roord, Leonie Maier and Manuela Zinsberger, Montemurro has helped the likes of Williamson and McCabe grow from promising youngsters to important first-team, international quality players.
He's also helped those who were struggling, turning around the form of Miedema and van de Donk who found it difficult to adapt to life in England under former boss Pedro Martinez Losa.
For me, the Arsenal Women's boss and his side showed everything I want from a manager and a team.
He might not have the experience in men's senior football, but football is football for me, whether it's being played by men or women.
Montemurro's team play attacking, fast, exciting football that starts from the back, and they can defend too which is always a nice bonus, so why shouldn't he be in contention considering he can offer everything Emery claimed he could when he was first appointed?
He's clearly been able to transmit his ideas to the players, get them playing for him and buy into the idea, all while winning trophies. I don't see why he couldn't do that in men's football.
In an age of big managerial names, Arsenal could have the solution to their coaching problems right under their noses.
To appoint Montemurro would be a brave decision, but as American self-help author Dr. Robert Anthony once wrote: "The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity."