Arsene Wenger still has another year to run on his Arsenal contract, but the Frenchman’s 21-year stay with the Gunners appears to be edging towards an end, once again.
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Following their 3-0 hammering at the hands of Manchester City in the League Cup final on Sunday, The Telegraph are among several outlets who have released a list of managers reportedly lined up to replace Wenger, 68, at the end of this season.
Unless Wenger leads Arsenal to the UEFA Europa League title, which would ensure a return to the Champions League as finishing in the top four of the Premier League now seems increasingly unlikely, his time seems to be up.
Wenger has delivered a trophy or a top four finish in each of his 21 campaigns in charge of Arsenal but with that streak potentially coming to an end, it appears the Arsenal hierarchy are concerned with the dwindling chances of a Premier League title race in the past few season and for the foreseeable future.
Here’s a closer look at the five candidates being mentioned in dispatches.
1. Joachim Low – It feels like Joachim Low’s time as Germany’s manager may be up after the 2018 World Cup, but he does have a contract through 2020. Arsenal should break the bank to get Die Mannschaft’s main man on board and Low’s ability to develop a strong team identity and have a structured plan for a youth system would surely translate well from the national team to club level. Low would be perfect to bring defensive balance to Arsenal, while also keeping their flair intact. Low could also be key in getting the best out of Mesut Ozil after his long-term deal at Arsenal.
2. Patrick Vieria – Not mentioned as being on the shortlist, but the current New York City FC boss should be. An Arsenal legend, the former captain of the “Invincibles” deserves to be in this discussion. His relationship with Arsene Wenger may not be the best and that could be a sticking point as Wenger will likely move upstairs in some capacity after his time managing Arsenal comes to and end. Still, Vieria has done extremely well in Major League Soccer with NYCFC but his relationship with the City Football Group may complicate things.
3. Leonardo Jardim – Monaco’s manager led them to the French title last season and they’re in second in Ligue 1 this season despite selling on Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and others. Wenger’s close links with Monaco in the past may make this attractive as the French connection would continue, with Jardim perhaps being able to bring plenty of Monaco’s stars (Thomas Lemar and Fabinho) with him. Jardim’s teams play attacking, attractive soccer and the Portuguese coach could perhaps reinvigorate the squad rather than totally demolish it. That would be a more frugal option than a complete squad overhaul.
4. Eddie Howe – Seen by many as the long-term appointment Arsenal need, Howe’s Bournemouth side play attractive, flowing soccer and Wenger letting Jack Wilshere go on loan to the Cherries last season showed how highly he rates Howe. Do Arsenal’s board feel the same? Howe has no experience of European action but his feat in taking Bournemouth through the leagues and now establishing themselves as a PL club has been remarkable. May be too big of a job too soon for the 40-year-old.
5. Brendan Rodgers – Stylistically this would make sense but there’s no doubting that Rodgers’ record in the Premier League is a little tainted after his project at Liverpool unraveled so quickly. He’s had plenty of success with young players at Celtic to rebuild his managerial career, but it seems like he may fancy a move back tot he Premier League sooner rather than later. Arsenal may be too big a move for Rodgers who could have to take charge of a mid-sized PL club, overachieve and then get his move back to one of the big boys. Wouldn’t be the worst appointment but not one that would excite Arsenal’s fans.
5. Carlo Ancelotti – Ancelotti’s sublime experience and resume speaks for itself. He’s won trophies wherever he has managed and he’s currently out of job and has been seen back in London recently. Reports say he’s ready and willing to take charge of Arsenal whenever they need him as the former AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid, PSG and Bayern Munich boss would be the type of coach to excite fans. You just get a sense that Ancelotti isn’t quite why Arsenal are looking for as he’s used to going into established teams and working with star players to fulfill their potential. This Arsenal project would be a major rebuild.
6. Mikel Arteta – Another name mentioned on the shortlist, Arteta, 32, only stopped played 18 months ago but he has been part of Pep Guardiola‘s coaching squad ever since. Arteta is a former Arsenal skipper and the Spanish midfielder is highly thought of at the club. Like Howe, could be a case of too big of a job too soon, but then Arsenal gave Wenger a chance back in the mid 1990s when hardly anyone had heard of him.
Dream hire: Diego Simeone – The fact that he’s not mentioned on the shortlist proves that this is very much a pie in the sky appointment. What Simeone has created at Atletico, while also balancing the books impressively, is totally different stylistically to what Wenger has created over two decades a Arsenal. Simeone’s arrival would spark a wholesale clear out of the playing squad