The top contenders to replace Arsene Wenger
With Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal tenure coming to an end, who are the top contenders to take the Frenchman’s place?23 April 2018 | Stephen Ford
Earlier this year I wrote a piece where I said I believe this will be Wenger’s last year in charge of Arsenal, and admittedly, I’m not always right in my predictions. This one I got right.
When Arsene Wenger signed his new 2-year deal at the end of last season, I immediately felt that he would not see out his contract. There were numerous reasons for coming to this conclusion. There was huge unrest amongst the fans, performances had dropped off which looked like the players weren’t playing for the manager anymore, and behind the scenes, the club was making backroom changes which looked like they were preparing for transitioning out of the Wenger era.
Now that the club has made an official announcement indicating that after 22 years of service, the Frenchman would be stepping down, I’ve compiled a list of candidates who I are likely to be in the running to succeed the Arsenal legend and write the next chapter in the club’s history.
Supporting Arguments: Proven at the top level. Won 3 CL’s. Managed Real Madrid, Chelsea, AC Milan, PSG, and Bayern Munich. He’s won 19 trophies throughout his career which includes a league title in every country he has managed. Currently a free agent, so no compensation would need to be paid to any club for his services.
Opposing Arguments: Has his time at the top level gone by him. After managing 5 big clubs in Europe, mostly with success, his last run out with Bayern Munich brought about some issues that spectators haven’t seen from him before. Team morale dropped with it reported that 5 senior players didn’t get along with his methods. He won the league in 2016-17 quite comfortably, but in the current campaign it all fell apart which resulted in a dismal Champions League run that saw them hammered by PSG in the group stages and finish second. They were sitting third in the league when he left, which was unacceptable for a club so dominant in Germany, and he was subsequently sacked
May also command a huge salary – he was on a reported $9 million in his last role with Bayern and I can only imagine he would be looking for something similar to take over at Arsenal.
My view: His record speaks for itself, and maybe his German experience was just the result of not being the right fit. I believe he is still in the top tier of managers in the world and I think he still has something to offer.
Supporting Arguments: Hugely proven in Italy with both AC Milan and Juventus. Won the title with AC Milan in 2010-11 and has then gone on to win 3 consecutive Scudetto’s with Juventus from 2014-15 through to 2016-17.
On top of his domestic success, he has also taken Juventus to 2 Champions League Finals in 2015 and 2017, while they are also currently sitting in 1stplace in Serie A.
Allegri seems to be in a very similar mould to the other top managers in the world such as Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, and Diego Simeone, where he is tactically adaptable and also has a ruthless streak to him – which seems to be a pre-requisite of being in the top tier of Football managers in the modern era. Allegri is currently earning $3million a season as head coach with Juventus, whereas Arsene Wenger earns $10million a season – one of the top 3 earners in the football management world. I would like to think that if Allegri was offered the job which included doubling his current wages, it would have to make him think.
Opposing Arguments: Has only managed in Italy. How will he adapt to a foreign league? How good is his English?
My view: Probably the top pick from my point of view.
Supporting Arguments: Without question, one of the best managers in world football. The way he has taken Atletico Madrid forward over the past 7 years has been remarkable. With a club that doesn’t have the budget of Barcelona of Real Madrid, he has delivered them 1 La Liga (against the odds), Europa League, Spanish Cup, 2 Champions League finals, and consistent top 4 finishes in the league, which for a club like Atletico Madrid, who were struggling before he came in, is an unbelievable achievement. On top of the success that he has delivered, he has achieved it with a group of players that aren’t your household names. He has been someone who has been able to develop and nurture players who have then gone on to become world class players – and then replaced those individuals with new unknown or lesser quality players, and then turned them into superstars. Some of those players are Falcao, Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann. His success has come off the back of a ruthlessness to set up a team in a compact structure and squeeze every piece of potential out of all the players he has at his disposal.
Opposing Arguments: How good is his English? Would his abrupt and intimidating figure cause issues at a club like Arsenal which has become known to be a “comfortable” place for players. His love affair with Atletico is very strong and he has had the allure of bigger clubs in the past, but he hasn’t taken it.
My view: Would he be too big of a disruption for Arsenal? I don’t think so as it’s just what they need after a long tenure under Arsene Wenger.
Supporting Arguments: Has got a number of years coaching experience under his belt now, and has lead the New York City FC team to the top of the Eastern Conference in the MLS at present. Knows Arsenal Football Club better than any, and would be an inspirational choice from the board.
Opposing Arguments: While he has done his apprenticeship in the MLS in America, the competition in the US isn’t of the standard of European football. Although he has improved the New York franchise since he has taken over as head coach, his current win percentage sits at 43%.
My view: Needs more European experience before he could be considered to take over at Arsenal. A fans favourite, but needs to prove himself at the top level in Europe before taking on one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Supporting Arguments: From a sentiment point of view, this is the one that all Arsenal fans would love to see as Arsenal manager one day – but I think it’s too soon. Some will note that managers like Pep Guardiola had minimal coaching before taking on the Barcelona first team job, and even former Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Thierry has similar traits to Pep and should be given the top job when Arsene Wenger leaves.
Opposing Arguments: His only managerial position has been, and is currently, as assistant manager for the Belgium national team. Reports from some of the players have stated that they have really taken to Henry and his coaching, with some saying he has taken their game to another level, like Romelu Lukaku. Personally, I think it’s too early, but I would be tempted to bring him in as a number two for a few years and let him develop under an experienced manager and see if he will be ready for the top job in the years to come.
My view: Too early to be Arsenal manager, needs more time to develop.
arsenal, arsene wenger