After speculation surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal, sports writer Alex Alton identifies five potential candidates to replace the Frenchman at the Emirates
Although Arsenal picked up a 2-0 win over Hull at the weekend, Arsenal fans are once again at the catastrophe stage of the season. Usually, the pattern that follows is a loss to a rival (subsequently out of the title race), going out in the round of 16 in the Champions to Bayern Munich (again) and it all ending up back where it started – top four security and financial stability. Not that this is to be scoffed at, many teams would love to play in the Champions League every season. Arsenal fans seem to now be an exception to this rule. Many believe that the club has entered a period of stagnation in which the club cannot really compete for major honours – this is laid at the door of Arsene Wenger. Although Wenger has completely revolutionised Arsenal Football Club, many think its his time to go. With Ian Wright announcing this week that the Frenchman’s time at Arsenal is coming to an end it would be of use to look at who may step in and replace Wenger when the time comes.
Massimilliano Allegri – The Italian manager would be an adequate replacement for Wenger and would be probably the manager held highest in regard in this list. After working wonders at AC Milan guiding them to the 2010 title for the first time in six years, he then moved on to Juventus, at first looking like a rushed replacement for Antonio Conte. However, he has since led Juve to two league titles and an unexpected Champions League final. Allegri is also noted for the incredibly pragmatic style he employs as a manager, regularly switching formations to suit the available players and the situation in a given game. The only reservations one may have regarding Allegri is the lack of challenge he has experienced in Serie A, managing the undisputed top club in Italy. The challenge would be altogether different in the Premier League, although previously also managing Juventus to titles and then coming to England has not held Antonio Conte back.
Thomas Tuchel – This would certainly be an interesting choice for Arsenal to make given the progress that the young German has so made in his career. Following a similar career path to Jurgen Klopp after managing at Mainz and now Dortmund, Tuchel places a priority on attacking football and bringing through young players, testing them out in the first team whenever possible. Tuchel seems like the perfect fit for Arsenal, at only 43 he has time on his side and his style fits quite closely to the current philosophy at Arsenal. Saying this, Tuchel’s Dortmund side are underperforming this season, lying fourth in the table (maybe he would be perfect for Arsenal) after an unexpected loss to bottom side Darmstadt at the weekend. Perhaps Arsenal need more stability in a future appointment.
Diego Simeone – Simeone would be something of a shock to the current Arsenal side. He demands success from his team, very much in the mould of Jose Mourinho. After some fantastic seasons at Atletico managing to usurp the bipolar order of La Liga, he may fancy a challenge at a new club and Arsenal may give him that. There are both positives and negatives to this appointment, though. Firstly, he would be a real statement of intent from the Arsenal board in getting a world-class manager who could easily attract some of the world’s finest footballing talent to the club. Additionally, there is no question that he would bring success in some form to the football club. On the negative side, the ultra-defensive counter attacking style is antithetical to the system currently employed by Arsenal. Simeone also has the capability to be a “win at all costs” manager, shown last season when he threw a ball at a player on the opposing team to halt a counter attack. This is not something that some Arsenal fans would appreciate.
Eddie Howe – You could say there is a lesson to be learnt from what happened at Manchester United with this one. The appointment of David Moyes has many parallels with the motivations behind wanting Eddie Howe to manage Arsenal – he is a British manager, has proved he can deal with limited resources, and he gets success from his team. This one should be strongly warned against. Howe has only managed in the Premier League for a season and a half, and would be well out of his depth if he were given control of one of the world’s biggest clubs. You have to respect the job he has done with Bournemouth, bringing them up to the Premier League from League One with a brief interlude at Burnley. Perhaps if Howe proves his success on a long-term basis – 3 or 4 more years then Arsenal may be right to go for him, but it is too soon to appoint someone inexperienced at the top level
Rafa Benitez – Although this man is busy leading the “Rafalution” at Newcastle, you could argue that he would certainly make a fine replacement for Arsene Wenger in the short-term, as a transition. After previously managing in the Premier League with Liverpool and Chelsea, Benitez knows what it takes to manage at the top level and has already managed on an interim basis at Chelsea. He would probably provide a similar level of stability to what Arsenal fans are used to now, but if the board want to appoint someone who will make sure that the regular flow of income from the Champions League and a top four finish is secure then Rafa may be the most sensible solution.
In conclusion, Arsenal may be wise to go for an option that offers stability and still lets the club compete, however a real success will be someone who comes in and wins major honours straight away. It is a testament to Arsene Wenger that his successor will have such a hard act to follow, but whoever is given the job will have an incredible base to build on, and perhaps with hindsight in 10 or 15 years Arsenal fans will truly appreciate the work that Wenger has done.
Article by Alex Alton