This is obviously not a “real” article. This is based on my Football Manager 2009 game as Arsenal, and concurrently France manager. I will be using the real tournament and club names when applicable.
It is now Christmas, December 25, 2043. The Arsenal first team just arrived in Dakar, Senegal for their first match in the FIFA World Club Championship 2043. They have just wrapped up the Champions League group stage matches with a 1-1 draw against Juventus last December 16 and won their league game against Nottingham Forest 1-0 on the 19th. Their Semi-Final match on the 26th will be against J. League team Urawa Red Diamonds, which promptly dispatched local team and African representatives AS Douanes in the second round.
This will be Jacques Santin’s 3rd season as Arsenal manager, and he’s currently half-way through it. Also, he recently accepted the post as the French national team’s manager last August, succeeding Francis Coquelin, who is incidentally a former Arsenal player. He inherited a French team that was not really impressing anybody during the Euro qualifiers, sporting an acceptable 3-1-1 W-D-L record when he resumed the post. Afterwards he brought the Les Bleus to three straight wins, a close 1-0 away win against Romania (which won 3-1 during the home match), a 2-1 home win against Norway and a 5-0 drubbing of Azerbaijan for a final record of 6-1-1 during the Euro qualifiers, enough to top Group I and straight qualification for Euro 2044 in Russia.
Some pundits however are seeing France’s chances of progressing in the tournament proper as bleak, being drawn with both England and the Netherlands for the group stage of Euro 2044. But I disagree, this is a Santin we’re talking about. Not the father obviously, but almost everything points to a “like father, like son” situation in this case. The son has continued his father’s legacy with Arsenal, and is still consistently bringing success to the North London club. Like father, like son indeed as both are avid Arsenal supporters, and Jacques is set to bring another period of success for the Les Bleus, who only tasted success once (a Euro 2028 victory) after the elder Santin left the post. Jacques however seems to be limiting his possible tenure as France manager to 2 Euros and 2 World Cups at most, which is what his father had done.
Jacques Santin at Arsenal
Going to the Arsenal side of things, well it could be simply be put out as “same old, same old.” When it usually denotes the unchanging nature of something in the negative, in the case of the son following the father in Arsenal it would certainly be a positive. Arsenal still plays beautiful, exquisite football, and consistently proving to the whole world that Arsenal is the best football team, best ever even. And this is where we would delve more deeply, looking at the Arsenal players, the staff, and the club itself through the younger Santin’s first few years as manager and compare it to his father’s legacy with the club.
The son inherited one of the strongest footballing sides in the world from his father. Spain captain and defender Andrés Jiménez, Spanish goalkeeper Francisco Javier Cano, Spanish midfielder Adonai Suarez Alvarez, Italian defenders Manuel Morello and Mario Greco, Japanese winger Tomoyuki Kobayashi, English midfielder Charlie McLoughlin and Arsenal’s record league goalscorer, Brazilian striker Luis represent the already established names, while then youngsters (when Jacques assumed the post) David Bridges, Gerd Henning, Tullio Camolese, Chris Hopkinson, Jesper Langhoff and Ernest Agu all reach their peak during the son’s tenure with the club.
The Santin Arena, the current Arsenal home ground was completed in 2029, in time for the 20th year as manager for Raphael Santin, and with its 77240 all-seater capacity it is the second biggest football stadium in England behind Wembley and the biggest among the English Premier League stadiums. With depictions of Arsenal legends, players and manager alike, in the West End of the stadium, as well as an interactive Arsenal Museum situated along the southern side of the stadium, it is arguably the best football stadium in the world. The New Armory, Arsenal’s official retail store, is just beside the museum, another obvious legacy of his father, Raphael. Santin Arena also has a retractable roof, giving it the possibility of hosting “indoor” events in the stadium. All in all, Arsenal’s home ground is state-of-the-art.
The Players of Arsenal
To consistently play that attacking, flowing football which is very pleasing to anyone watching it (unless of course you are a fan of the opposing team), the club would need the right players at the right positions. And this is where the father and son both shines. The teams during the elder Santin’s tenure can be divided thus: the “first generation” team that Raphael Santin mostly inherited from fellow Frenchman Arsene Wenger (Robin van Persie, Francesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Thomas Vermaelen) with a few more additions (Mario Balotelli, Ramires, Igor Akinfeev); the “second generation” of Rene Tekay, Daniele Valenti, Lucien Linssen and Darryl Murphy; the “third generation” with Jorge Madariaga, Micah Thomas, Stephane Munier, Daniel Kalinowski and Matteo Germani; and the “fourth generation”, the last under Raphael Santin featuring Luis, Tomoyuki Kobayashi, Ruben Marfil, Shigeki Hosogai and Joe Tagoe. These divisions of course are not well-defined; some of the players overlap, this owing to their consistent performances throughout a long period of time.
Jacques Santin’s “first generation” squad is what he mostly inherited in 2039, featuring Andres, Mario Greco, Manuel Morello, Francisco Javier Cano, Adonai Suarez Alvarez and some of the other “fourth generation” players. His “second generation” includes those 5 players, albeit all aged 29 and up (Cano is 35). The others which make up this second generation are youngsters during Raphael Santin’s fourth generation (and Jacques Santin’s first) or new signings by the younger Santin: David Bridges, Gerd Henning, Tullio Camolese, Chris Hopkinson, Jesper Langhoff and Ernest Agu for the former; Tim de Jonge, Irakli Iashvili, Riccardo Acquaviva, Michael Hartley, Richard Eyre and Kweku Boateng for the latter.
There are some consistencies for the past 34 years. In midfield there were Spanish playmakers Fabregas, Madariaga, Marfil and current vice-captain Alvarez. In attack there were Dutch strikers Robin van Persie, Rene Tekay and Tim de Jonge, with fellow partners Italians Mario Balotelli, Matteo Germani and Tullio Camolese, while Arsenal’s record goalscorer, Brazilian striker Luis seemingly the odd-one-out. Also, current captain Manuel Morello and Mario Greco continue the Italian legacy in defense started by Arsenal legend and former captain Daniele Valenti.