Friday 30 September 2016

Who could replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

Kevin Palmer takes an in-depth look at a list of potential candidates who could succeed Wenger at the Emirates.

Published 14/03/2016 | 17:23

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal are on course to end a promising season trophyless
Arsene Wenger's Arsenal are on course to end a promising season trophyless

The #WengerOut movement gathered fresh momentum following Arsenal’s shock FA Cup exit on Sunday, with the prospect of the club’s iconic leader relinquishing his post apparently moving a giant step closer.

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The increasingly vocal collection of Arsenal fans who suspect the time has come for Wenger to call it a day as Gunners boss may soon have majority support if an inevitable Champions League exit against Barcelona this week is followed up by another failed bid to land the Premier League title.

Yet for a variety of reasons, replacing Wenger at Arsenal may be an even bigger task compared to that faced by Manchester United when Alex Ferguson stepped down as their manager back in 2013.

While Ferguson had delegated many of his responsibilities at the club to his staff in the years leading up to his retirement, Wenger continues to be have a hugely influential role in all areas of the Arsenal operation, with the accusation that he has no-one to answer to likely to be tested as he ponders his next move.

It may be that Arsenal need to hire a Sporting Director AND a manager if Wenger opts to step down, or it could be that the 66-year-old Frenchman would be willing to fill the first of those roles when his days as the club's figurehead come to an end.

Wenger is likely to select who replaces him as Arsenal boss and whatever scenario transpires ahead of the end of his current contract in the summer of 2017, Arsenal will need to find a new manager sooner rather than later.

Here is your Independent.ie guide to the candidates in the mix right now.

JOACHIM LOEW

Status: Germany head coach

Odds: 10/1 joint favourite

If Arsenal are looking for a manager with a proven track record and a method of play that produces success on the biggest of stages, then 2014 World Cup winning coach Low would have to be a contender.

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His success in moulding the German national team into champions should ensure that he secures a chance in a top club job sooner rather than later and you wonder whether he may be tempted if Arsenal came calling after the Euro 2016 finals this summer.

Loew has not been involved club management for 12 years, but his association with some of the world’s top players on the international stage would make him a strong contender to replace Wenger.

DENNIS BERGKAMP

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Status: Working as a coach at Ajax

Odds: 10/1 joint favourite

Could the player whose arrival at Arsenal back in 1995 signaled the start of the club’s move into a bold new era be the returning hero fit to fill Wenger’s boots?

Bergkamp lacks top-level management experience, but his stellar playing career and status as an Arsenal icon would make him an intriguing candidate to return to the club and work in a structure that may see Wenger retained in an advisory capacity.

One obvious drawback to his candidacy would be his refusal to fly, with the prospect of an Arsenal manager traipsing across Europe for Champions League games in trains and cars unlikely to be tolerated.

RONALD KOEMAN

Status: Southampton manager

Odds: 12/1

The Southampton boss has hinted that he would relish the chance to manage at one of the biggest Premier League clubs and his cool and calm approach would appear to be well suited to the demands of the Arsenal job.

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He was an A-list player in his pomp with Barcelona and Holland and now Koeman has impressed all observers with his honesty and efficiency in his time at Southampton, backing up a coaching career that has taken him from Holland to Spain and Portugal.

Koeman would be an outsider who has no connections with Arsenal, but maybe that is what they need as the look to move on after the Wenger dynasty.

FRANK DE BOER

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Status: Ajax head coach

Odds: 12/1

This former Dutch international great has stated his desire to work in English football and a dream team involving De Boer and his current Ajax coaching assistant Bergkamp could appeal to Arsenal.

A strong contender for both the Tottenham and Liverpool jobs in recent years, De Boer may well have landed the first of those jobs ahead of Mauricio Pochettino if he had not been so public in his push to get the post. Those tactics did not go down well with chief chairman Daniel Levy, who appointed Pochettino instead.

Winning in the Dutch league does not guarantee you will be a success in the Premier League, but De Boer would bring a fresh and vibrant approach to the Arsenal set-up.

THIERRY HENRY

Status: Recently qualified coach and Arsenal legend

Odds: 14/1

Jumping from a role as a TV pundit to becoming Arsenal manager would seem like an improbable leap, but Henry must have his eyes on the top at Emirates Stadium one day.

Arsenal’s all-time top scorer completed his UEFA A coaching license only last week and like Bergkamp, he may be a contender to have a leading role in a restructured Gunners set-up if Wenger retained a role as an overseer.However, history suggests that clubs appointing former greats to their managerial hot-seat is not always a secret to success, with Alan Shearer’s woeful and brief stint in charge at Newcastle evidence of that.

DIEGO SIMEONE

Status: Atletico Madrid boss

Odds: 20/1

Linked with Manchester United and Manchester City in the last couple of years, this impressive Argentine tactician continues to impress after his historic Spanish title triumph with Atletico back in 2014.

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He would offer a hugely varied view of the game in comparison with Wenger and suggestions that he has been learning English ahead of a possible move to the Premier League fuel the suspicion that he would welcome a switch to England.

LAURENT BLANC

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Status: Paris Saint-Germain coach

Odds: 25/1

While Blanc is committed to his well-paid role in the French capital, Wenger is close friends with the former French international and he may view him as the kind of coach who could slip into his role with minimal disruption.

An experienced operator who cannot be too enthused to be part of a desperately one-side French title race that his PSG side won all too easily last weekend, Blanc would doubtless jump at the chance to test his skills in England.

Blanc may not be among the betting favourites for the Arsenal job, but he should be a strong contender to take the crown.

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