Thursday 5 December 2019

Mauricio Pochettino preferred candidate on Arsenal's list of targets to replace Unai Emery

Mauricio Pochettino could be in line to fill the Arsenal hotseat left empty following the departure of Unai Emery yesterday. Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Mauricio Pochettino could be in line to fill the Arsenal hotseat left empty following the departure of Unai Emery yesterday. Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Sam Dean and Jason Burt

Arsenal have drawn up an extensive list of candidates to replace Unai Emery as head coach after the Spaniard was sacked yesterday morning following the club's worst run of results since 1992.

Mauricio Pochettino, Nuno Espirito Santo, Massimiliano Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti are all among the contenders to replace Emery, who was dismissed upon his arrival at the club's training ground after Thursday's defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

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Pochettino is understood to be the preferred candidate, with Arsenal keen to appoint a coach with Premier League experience, but they would face a major battle to persuade the former Tottenham Hotspur manager to take the job so soon after his departure from their north London rivals. Pochettino has previously said he would "never" manage Arsenal.

Allegri, the former Juventus manager, is also available having been out of work since the summer, although there are concerns that his lack of English could hamper his communication skills, while Nuno has impressed Arsenal's hierarchy with his work at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Freddie Ljungberg, the former Arsenal midfielder, has been promoted from first-team coach to interim head coach and has a chance to press his own credentials in a series of winnable matches in the coming weeks.

Among the other candidates are Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta and Portuguese coach Vitor Pereira, who is in charge of Chinese side Shanghai SIPG.

Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, has said he hopes Arteta stays at the club, but added that he will not stand in the Spaniard's way if he wishes to leave. "I said many times with my players, staff, they are free to do what they want to do," Guardiola said.

There will be no shortage of suitors for the Arsenal job, despite their current position of eighth in the table and their relative lack of spending power, compared to the Premier League's other top sides.

The recruitment process for a new head coach will be led by head of football Raul Sanllehi, technical director Edu and director of football operations Huss Fahmy.

Ancelotti, the three-time Champions League winner and Napoli manager, was being considered by Arsenal, but the club are believed to prefer a younger option around whom they can construct a long-term plan.

Arteta was close to securing the job after the departure of Arsene Wenger last summer before losing out to Emery. Julian Nagelsmann, the 32-year-old manager of RB Leipzig, will appeal once again, but the German only joined his current side at the start of this campaign.

The decision to fire Emery was taken earlier this week, with Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham, the managing director, recommending his dismissal to the club's owners following last weekend's draw with Southampton. Arsenal are seven games without a win in all competitions and already eight points off the top four in the Premier League.

Emery arrived at the club's London Colney training base with the expectation of taking training ahead of tomorrow's trip to Norwich City. Upon his arrival, though, he was told by Sanllehi, Venkatesham and Edu that he had been fired.

When Sanllehi and Venkatesham had decided to call time on Emery's reign, they flew to the United States on a pre-arranged trip and made the recommendation to the Kroenke family.

There had been genuine reluctance among the executives and the owners to sack Emery, but it was decided that the performances, results and mood at the club had left them with little choice.

The Spaniard, whose work ethic has never been questioned, is understood to have responded professionally to the decision.

Ljungberg then took charge of a delayed training session.

He is said to be more in tune with the club's "values" and is a more popular presence at the training ground than his predecessor.

The Swede will be aware that an impressive run of results will boost his prospects of being given the job permanently. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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