The contrast between Bobby Robson and Bruce Rioch could hardly be more stark. The former England manager was hugely popular within the game, seemingly well loved by his players. Rioch’s spell at Arsenal was markedly different.
Had Robson taken over even in the guise of Director of Football, it seems highly unlikely that Arsène would have been appointed twelve months later. Having left the England job, Robson had won the title with PSV and Porto whilst winning three trophies in his two years at Barcelona.
At Porto he won the Portuguese Cup in 1994 beating Sporting Lisbon who had sacked him whilst they were top of the league that season before going on to win the title in 1995 and 1996. He remains one of the most successful English managers to have worked abroad.
It is speculation of course but interesting nonetheless to ponder how Arsenal’s future would have unfurled had these negotiations been concluded successfully. Would any or some of the success enjoyed by Arsenal under Wenger have come the club’s way? Would he and Robson have formed part of a managerial Dream Team the following season? Knowing David Dein’s admiration of the current manager, that could not be ruled out.