There Are No Ideal Candidates To Succeed Wenger At Arsenal


Trends are often important in football. We see tactical systems, recruitment patterns and models for running clubs that are inspired from elsewhere. Success breeds imitation, or at least opens others up to new ways of thinking. Just ask Gareth Southgate where he got the idea for England’s formation against Germany.

Like so much else in recent footballing developments, much of the imitation has been inspired by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. An emphasis on possession, the cultivation of non-physical central midfielders and an insistence on 4-3-3 has filtered throughout world football. But, Guardiola’s time at Barcelona also convinced clubs that hiring from within could work. A club legend, who had spent some time coaching with the younger squads could be a success.

The problem, though, is that Guardiola is unique, and Barcelona were possibly the greatest team to ever play the game. Their ‘model’, is very hard to replicate. Manchester United, for a while, thought about trying it with Ryan Giggs, who took over as caretaker and later worked as Louis van Gaal’s assistant. Giggs left Old Trafford when Jose Mourinho arrived, ostensibly to forge a career as a manager. He remains jobless. Inter tried it with Andrea Stramaccioni, who impressed with their Primavera. He did okay, in the beginning, but ultimately failed to qualify the team for Europe for the first time in 15 seasons. Inter’s neighbours Milan also tried it with Pippo Inzaghi, who had success coaching the youth teams. He now manages Venezia in the third tier. There are other examples around and very few are heartening.

Now, with Arsene Wenger struggling at Arsenal, there is talk of another. Thierry Henry, a pundit with Sky Sports, formerly a coach of Arsenal’s youth teams and assistant manager with Belgium, has admitted he’d like to coach the club. Few players are as synonymous with the successful portion of the Wenger years as Henry, who remains both a true great of world football and a Gunners legend. When he comments on Arsenal, it is usually worth listening.

Speaking to French broadcaster Canal Plus about the possibility of taking the Arsenal job, he said “Yes, but it’s not up to me. There are things you have to respect. When I say I want to coach them … it’s the club of my heart, yes, but that doesn’t mean you have a right”. Clearly, Henry would take the job but, as an attentive person, he is aware of the difficulties involved and his own personal lack of experience. “I just try to gather information, a lot of information, to perhaps eventually be a good coach,” he added.

There is, of course, no guarantee that Henry will ever be a good coach and, further still, no guarantee that Wenger is going to leave Arsenal this summer. But, if he does, the club are left with some difficult choices. Henry would please many fans but he may not be a good manager, while few others seem to be a perfect fit. Thomas Tuchel has been sounded out but, though an impressive coach, he is yet to achieve anywhere close to the success that Jurgen Klopp had at Borussia Dortmund. Another is Diego Simeone, who, it has been suggested, only wants to leave Atletico for his old club Inter. Then there is Max Allegri, a fine manager who has developed Juventus further since Antonio Conte left and managed to eke one last title out of an ailing Milan side. But the problem with Allegri is his relative lack of experience of actually constructing a winning side. His speciality is taking on sides that have already had past success and fine-tuning them, introducing tactical improvements and clever transfers to take his team to an extra level.

Moulding this Arsenal side into title winners is unlikely to be a quick fix. Their state of disrepair, and evident lack of mental toughness, is one of the prime reasons why Wenger’s last few season have been so thoroughly criticised. Arsenal are considered ‘soft’, unwilling to really battle. Reworking that mentality takes longer than one pre-season. If Wenger leaves, the task for the next incumbent looks huge. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any seamless options, any ideal fits.

Eliot is a freelance football writer who has covered football from England, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine for the Daily Mirror, ESPN FC, Roads & Kingdoms, BBC Radio 5 Live, talkSPORT, and others.

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6 Comments on “There Are No Ideal Candidates To Succeed Wenger At Arsenal”

  1. Jay says:

    Get Diego Simeone. He is perfect for Arsenal

  2. Tassos says:

    The Arsenal supporters are the most chickenhearted,masocistic,spineless,credulous,pitiful,gullible and foolish football fans in the world and they don’t deserve any better coach than this pathological liar
    Wenger ,who in normal circumstances should have been put in the loony bin ages ago.

  3. Sebmooc the Scribe says:

    Eddie Howe, right footballing philosophy

  4. Gav says:

    OMG…are you for real??? Take a look at the movements of players in / out of Juve since Allegri took over…the team is unrecognizable. And if he is the coach you say he, then maybe he can turn us into PL champions from FA cup winners! To say there are no ideal replacements for Wenger is plain naïve!! At the moment taking a punt on anyone but Arsene is what most Gunners fans want. Wenger is still a great coach, but is not elite anymore. Every year that passes he gets over taken by younger managers with new techniques. We are regressing under Wenger. The rot needs to stop. Even if we get somebody new in and he isn’t an instant success, so what. We aren’t successful at the minute and have not been since 2004 under Wenger

  5. Anonymous says:

    Type your comment Joakim Low of Germany National team could be perfect for the jop

  6. George Gunner says:

    Really?There are many bosses whose track record are far superior to the fm.
    All the board need to do is invite applications stipulating only those who have won titles in
    the major Euro and Wc need apply.
    Rest assured Arsenal will be hit by an avalanche.On the other hand the board
    could be discreetly sounding out some high caliber candidates.
    You never know.

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