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 be offered one or may not sign one when his current deal expires, and he will, of course, eventually leave his post at some point! After two back-to-back FA Cup trophies and some serious cash spent in the last two seasons, Wenger’s stock is at the highest it has been for a decade.
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 Manager.
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.
5) Dragan Stojković; current role – Unemployed.
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, as he had the advantage of prior managerial roles in Europe, with success with these teams as well. Stojković won the J League in 2010, but then failed to win any further trophies with Grampus Eight after 2011. He would, I believe, be very tempted by the Arsenal role if offered.
4) Marco van Basten; current role – AZ Assistant Manager.
Plus 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. His self-appointed demotion from AZ manager to assistant due to ‘stress’ may not help matters either. Managing Arsenal is certainly not a job for the faint-hearted (no pun intended). Van Basten may well, however, 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 that resides above Wenger at the club.
3) Jürgen Klopp; current role – Unemployed.
Plus Points – in the least three seasons, Klopp’s Dortmund side arguably played 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 join Arsenal? Probably not if he is offered the Bayern Munich job – which I am sure he would be – as well as those bigger Spanish 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 he showed loyalty whilst he is at Dortmund at their peak – with every chance of winning more trophies. A lack of a compensation fee is a big plus…his future may just be determined by how well Rafa Benitez does at Real Madrid and whether Brendan Rodgers can turn his Liverpool ship around. Klopp is a wanted man and is unlikely to wait around for Wenger to retire. Could he come in as a second-in-command, learning the ropes until the position becomes free?
2) Dennis Bergkamp; current role – Ajax Assistant Manager.
Plus Points – Bergkamp is a bona fida Arsenal legend, 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 two years ago, despite fierce pressure from a young, bulldozing PSV Eindhoven side – who sprinted to the title last season. 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? Would Bergkamp be an ideal assistant manager in the new coaching team post-Wenger?
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 World Cup winning side are a ruthless blend of strength, composure, speed and counter-attacking nous. And he has two senior German Gunners in his German side’s foundation, plus the up and coming Serge Gnabry. If ever there was a manager more suited to utilising the weapon that is Mesut Özil than Arsene Wenger, it is Jogi Löw. A victorious run to win the last World Cup has increased his stock.
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 eleven 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 massive 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?!
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, ex-manager of Olympique Lyon and of course, he was Wenger’s first Arsenal signing as a player in 1996. He worked 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? He is unemployed, linked to a return to the Premiership each summer and has a growing reputation….what isn’t to like?!
Christian Gourcuff, the current manager of Algeria 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, he is that man.
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, Pep could find himself unceremoniously out on his ear. Wolfsburg have the very real potential to really rain on Pep’s parade in the league, and Bayern certainly won’t have it all their own way in Europe with Real Madrid and Barcelona enforcing their squads this summer. So, if Pep does get dumped by 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 summer, and Arsenal potentially losing their own within the next two summers, it might 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.