Good afternoon Gooners. Well, the European adventure is over then for another year, although, unlike Spurs, Arsenal won’t be scrabbling around for old copies of The Sun to get their ‘Go to France for a Tenner’ vouchers in order to get back over there…
The dragging saga that is Arsene Wenger’s future is still going on. Today I am going to put forward the candidates that I think would be worthy of continuing the groundwork Wenger has done for the club.
Please note, I am not advocating an immediate change of manager, nor suggesting Arsene Wenger shouldn’t be given a new deal, but he may not sign the contract currently sitting on the table – perhaps unless Arsenal snaffle up the FA Cup, and he will, of course, eventually leave his long-held post at some point in the future.
Like it or not, one day he will wave goodbye to his legacy at Arsenal.
So here are the six men I would choose from to be the next Arsenal manager, as always, debate and comments welcome:
6) Claude Puel; current role – OGC Nice head coach.
Positive Points – Puel is very much a Wenger protégée, having played under him at AS Monaco during Wenger’s successful reign in the South of France. Puel won the French double with Monaco in 1999-2000 but since then, he has had not repeated that success with his subsequent clubs, with the exception of a well-deserved semi-final appearance in the UEFA Champions League with his Olympique Lyon side. I believe Puel would jump at the chance of succeeding Wenger at Arsenal.
Negative Points – Puel has yet to manage outside of the French league, and has never had a win rate of above 50% with any of his club teams. He could be a man that Wenger could influence from afar (if Wenger moved ‘upstairs’ instead of leaving the club entirely) and this factor could be either positive or negative.
Looking out to the future…at Arsenal?
5) Dragan Stojković; current role – Nagoya Grampus Eight manager.
Positive Points – Stojković is another Wenger protégée, and the two are great friends. Stojković played under Wenger for Nagoya Grampus Eight and then became manager of the side in 2008. Stojković has a great reputation in the game from his playing days and this could serve him well in influencing potential signings. I suspect Wenger has almost certainly sounded Stojković out about the Arsenal job already, and so he could well be the front-runner.
Negative Points – Stojković hasn’t managed any other club and the J League is very different to European leagues. Whilst this factor didn’t affect Wenger too much, he had the advantage of prior managerial roles in Europe, with success there as well. Stojković hasn’t won the J League since 2010, or indeed any trophy since 2011. He would, I believe, be very tempted by the Arsenal role if offered.
Enter the Dragan! Arsenal’s future manager?
4) Marco van Basten; current role – Heerenveen manager.
Positive Points – Van Basten has a deserved legendary status in the game, and as such, he would be an attractive pull for potential signings. His stint as Dutch National Manager was successful although he didn’t win a competition with them. He managed the team to impressive wins against Italy and France in Euro 2008 and his World Cup 2006 qualification campaign was an unbeaten one. He is the scorer of one of the game’s greatest ever goals and I am sure he could still show off some skills on the training pitch; you would imagine strikers like Olivier Giroud and Chuba Akpom could learn a lot from having him as a coach.
Negative Points – His club career is less remarkable and his Ajax side’s capitulation in 2008-09 saw PSV Eindhoven beat them to the title. Van Basten’s forays in the transfer market with Ajax were often on the expensive/not performing side of things. Van Basten may well be the most obtainable European-based manager on this list, and although his appointment would be a risky one, van Basten would be a manager without prior Wenger-connections, and thus may be more likely to fit into the current managerial configuration above Wenger at the club.
One of a number of Dutch masters…
3) Jürgen Klopp; current role – Borussia Dortmund manager.
Positive Points – Klopp’s Dortmund side arguably play the most attractive football in probably the best and most competitive European league. He is big on giving youth a try in his sides and has blooded several future superstars during his Dortmund tenure. Klopp has decent overall record with the club sides that he has managed and his success rate in the transfer market (on a limited budget) is Wenger-esque. Klopp is a master tactician as well as a purveyor of the beautiful game. On paper, Klopp managing Arsenal is a match made in heaven.
Negative points – Would he want to leave Dortmund for Arsenal? Probably not if the team hasn’t won a trophy by the time he has offered the job – which I am sure he would be – and bigger teams, who change their managers far more frequently than The Arsenal are also almost certain to approach the bespectacled maverick. Klopp is arguably Europe’s most desired manager, and whilst he is at a massive club with every chance of winning more trophies, with all respect, they aren’t (as yet, in my opinion) a global club comparable to the scale or prestige of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United or Juventus. And those are the clubs most likely to want him as their next manager. I also expect that he would be an expensive manager to hire, both in wages and compensation fee. Would the signing of Klopp spark a raid on the playing squad at Dortmund too? Marco Reus and Mats Hummels would be the first two names on my list if so!
Would he join The Gunners?
2) Dennis Bergkamp; current role – Ajax assistant manager.
Positive Points – Bergkamp is a bonafide Arsenal legend, complete with statue and as such, would, I believe, be given ample opportunity to forge his own team and style from both fans and (Arsenal-friendly) media alike. His time at Ajax has been extremely well spent and he has helped manage a team that has played some great football on their way to an Eredivisie title last year, despite fierce pressure from a bulldozing PSV Eindhoven side. I am sure Bergkamp’s incredible work ethic and undoubted ability to demonstrate technique would hold him in good standing in front of his squad.
Negative Points – I am assuming that he is still the ‘Non-Flying Dutchman’ so you would have to question just how many away fixtures abroad he would be able to attend with the team. Does this affect his Ajax role? He has yet to be a full manager of a team and the man who replaces Wenger has mighty shoes to fill. Bergkamp has the distinct advantage of being a key witness to the changes Wenger incorporated into the club and the team, so he is aware of the work that has been put into the side at all levels. But would he want to potentially sully his reputation at Arsenal if he were to return and ‘fail’ as a manager? Or would Bergkamp fancy starting his solo managerial career at a smaller side first, before trying his hand at managing one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League?
The man. The legend.
1) Joachim Löw; current role – Germany manager.
Positive Points – Löw – as well as being European football’s premier sartorial guru (I mean, *GOB Bluth voice* come on! The way he wears his sweaters or his scarf is borderline pornographic) – is the manager many credit as being the main driving force behind the remarkable renaissance the German national side has shown since 2004; when he was appointed as Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant manager. His German side are a ruthless blend of strength, composure, speed and counter-attacking nous. And he has the three senior German Gunners in his German side’s foundation. If ever there was a manager more suited to utilising the weapon that is Mesut Özil than Arsene Wenger, it is Jogi Löw. I also believe that Löw has stated that he could leave the German National side after the next World Cup, and as Wenger may also leave Arsenal next year too…
Negative Points – Löw’s managerial career at club level is nowhere near as successful as it is for die Deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft and I think a lot would be expected of him at Arsenal from the start due to his recent reputation. Löw hasn’t managed a club side for nine years and his last appointment was with FK Austria Wien. I also believe that Löw, like Klopp, will be a highly sought after appointment for any manager-less or soon-to-be-manager-less big club, and thus, he may want to test himself at a bigger club than Arsenal, unless they have shown themselves to be back on the trophy-winning-track. I have to say, I am biased here, because I believe that Löw would be an ideal appointment as well as being relatively cheap to hire – as there wouldn’t to my knowledge be a compensation fee to pay. Plus, well, you know, his sartorial elegance would easily fit into North London’s more affluent boroughs…think of the potential Cashmere sales in The Armoury, eh?!
Has anyone ever worn a sweater any better? I need a cold shower.
I personally would love to see a Löw/Bergkamp 1-2 at the helm of this great club once Arsene Wenger has called it a day. But, I have also included below some dark horses for the role, who although aren’t in my top six picks, could very well find themselves in the Arsenal hot-seat:
The Three Outsiders –
Remi Garde, the current manager of Olympique Lyon and of course, he was Wenger’s first Arsenal signing as a player in 1996. He is currently working small-budget magic at the once all-conquering French giants in the face of multi-billionaire-run playthings; PSG and AS Monaco. Sounds familiar, right?
Christian Gourcuff, the current manager of Lorient and a friend of Wenger. He is also long-term Arsenal target Yoann Gourcuff’s father, and has helped in the early-career-development of several top-flight players, including Arsenal cult hero and all round defensive star Laurent Koscielny.
Jupp Heynckes, the ostensibly retired German manager who set Pep Guardiola the unenviable task of following him on after his supreme treble-winning season at Bayern Munich. Heynckes would need one heck of an offer to lure him back into managing…but could The Arsenal be that bait? If ever there was a potentially available manager out there with the clout to replace Arsene Wenger in the currency of winner’s medals and reputation within the game…
The One Real Rank Outsider (it could happen, you never know…) –
Josep Guardiola. If, and it is a big if, it all goes terribly pear-shaped at Bayern Munich – which is highly unlikely given that the team’s bulldozing through the Bundesliga and Europe this season – Pep could (potentially) find himself unceremoniously out on his ear, especially if FC Hollywood’s boardroom politics become a bit feisty/tax evasion-ary for him. Dortmund still have the very real potential to really rain on Pep’s parade in the league – if they can keep hold of their start players – and not have Bayern pinching them each summer, plus Bayern certainly won’t have it all their own way in Europe for much more than a couple of seasons; unless the cyclical nature of football stops turning and replacing over time.
So, if Pep does part way with the Bavarians, Arsenal could be the perfect place for him to hang his exquisite scarf collection. With nearly all of the big European clubs having replaced their managers this season, and Arsenal potentially losing theirs within the next few seasons – new deal or no new deal – it could just happen; the planets could align! Plus, we know that Guardiola spent some of his formative managerial time at London Colney with Arsene Wenger guiding him through his coaching qualifications…and he has also allegedly stated in the past (pre-Bayern-appointment) that Arsenal are his preferred choice of English club to manage should he get offered the opportunity…and he appears to have a genuine respect for the French legend, but would Arsenal fans accept the ‘Pep Guardiola Brand of Winning Football’ that consists of passing, passing, passing, diving, arguing, passing and then maybe shooting, after several fixtures against Guardiola-led sides that have pushed gamesmanship to the very borders of acceptability?
Pep really liked Arsene’s jacket…
Anyway, it is all supposition, so thanks for reading, enjoy your Friday wherever you are and whatever you are doing!