Arsenal’s disappointing defeat against bitter rivals Tottenham on Saturday will serve as further vindication for supporters who want rid of Arsene Wenger.
Even the fiercest defenders of the long-time Gunners boss would admit that the time has come to look for Wenger’s successor, the decision on who that should be has been hotly debated and despite the club’s decline over recent years, whoever is appointed will have huge shoes to fill. It’s not easy following a manager with such a long and successful tenure at a football club, just ask David Moyes.
So, if time is finally up for Arsene Wenger, who are the candidates to take the reins at The Emirates? Here are five possibilities:
Jardim is the current manager of AS Monaco, where he has been since 2014, having begun his managerial career at just 29 years old in his native Portugal with Camacha in 2003. He has made stops at Chaves, Beira-Mar, Braga, Olympiacos and Sporting Lisbon on his journey to the French Riviera, with a successful track record. Jardim’s Olympiacos side were ten points clear at the top of the Greek Superleague when he was inexplicably sacked, their loss was Sporting Lisbon’s gain as he led them to 2nd place in Portugal’s top division in just one year at the club, no mean feat considering the dominance Benfica and Porto tend to hold over there. At Monaco, his team toppled the mighty PSG in the 2016/17 season to win Ligue 1 for the first time in 17 years. Would he be right for the job? He certainly has a lot of experience in management for a man of only 43, and is still young enough to be considered a long-term successor to Arsene Wenger. He also has a record of bringing through promising young players, such as Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe, which aligns well with how Arsenal operate. If you were being cynical though, you’d point to the fact that Jardim has never managed in the Premier League or any team with the kind of history and expectations of Arsenal.
The German national team manager has amassed a stellar record with the perennial tournament challengers, winning the World Cup in 2014 and reaching at least the semi-final in every major tournament he has managed at, stretching back to Euro 2008. However, managing an international juggernaut like Germany is a vastly different challenge to being Arsenal manager. Granted, the expectation levels are stratospherically high in both cases, but Löw hasn’t managed domestically since 2004 with Austria Wien, not quite the same proposition as Arsenal. The German is also 58 years old so his appointment wouldn’t represent the hierarchy at The Emirates thinking long-term.
Depending on which version of Conte you get, this could be a perfect appointment, or a disaster. At his best, the Italian is energetic, passionate and a joy to watch, and his teams reflect that. His Chelsea side took the Premier League by storm last season, winning the title in Conte’s first year in charge. The honeymoon period is now well and truly over at Stamford Bridge however, Conte has cut a desolate and depressed figure this season, at war with Chelsea’s decision makers over the club’s transfer policy and not getting anywhere near the same results on the pitch as last season’s glorious run to silverware. You could argue that what Arsenal needs is someone with heart-on-his-sleeve passion like Conte to lift the club from the relative doldrums they find themselves in, and he certainly has an impressive record at Juventus (three league titles) as well as Chelsea to back up his credentials. You could also argue that Arsenal are unlikely to be the club to give him whatever players he wants, the Gunners have shown a frustrating level of unwillingness to splash the cash until recently, there’s no guarantee this would be a good match.
Speaking of Juventus, their current boss could be another option as the next Arsenal boss. Allegri, like Conte before him, has enjoyed unbridled success in Turin, having added three league titles and three Coppa Italia titles to their trophy cabinet. He also did an admirable job in tough circumstances at another Italian giant, AC Milan. Allegri led The Rossoneri to a league title early in his tenure, but perhaps more impressively was able to keep Milan in the Champions League places later on despite seeing the majority of his star players leave (sound familiar, Arsenal fans?). That achievement should help to quell any notion that he can only succeed in the currentcomfortable environment Juventus are privy to in Serie A, he is however, another manager who is unproven in England.
The Bournemouth manager doesn’t have the pedigree of the managers above, but the job he’s done at The Vitality Stadium is nothing short of remarkable. In two spells as The Cherries boss, he has gained promotion from League Two, League One and the Championship, going on to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League for back-to-back seasons so far. You could say that Howe has never managed a club in the same realms of Arsenal’s stature, but here’s another perspective, look at what he’s achieved with relatively sparse resources on the South Coast and imagine what he could do at Arsenal. Young British coaches aren’t often picked for big jobs such as this one, the last memorable example being the much-maligned Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool (who let’s not forget, very nearly led them to their first league title in eons).They are seen as risky picks, but Arsenal can’t afford to play this appointment safe. Howe fits in with the Gunners philosophy of possession football and bringing through young players, to find out if he’s capable of handling a job of this magnitude, he has to be given the chance.