For Arsenal fans, and Football fans in general, Arsene Wenger needs no lengthy introductions. However, at the age of sixty-three (going on sixty-four), it’s time to discuss who should succeed Arsenal’s longest-serving manager.
In 2011, Arsene told the world that by the age of 65, he plans to, “Move on to a different job, unless I still feel like I feel today”. He’s quite obviously talking about a job outside of management, and not simply a managerial job at another club. Perhaps Arsene will move “Upstairs” into the Arsenal board room, but that’s another story completely.
Regardless of what Le Professeur does after he leaves his post, a successor must come in to at least attempt to fill the void left by the living legend that is Arsene Wenger.
So, who are the best potential Arsene Wenger replacements?
1. Jurgen Klopp
The composed German has shot to fame as manager of Borrussia Dortmund, where he most recently led them to the 2012/13 Champions League Final, where they almost overcame a strong Bayern Munich side.
In his first season at Dortmund, Klopp led the club to Silverware via the DFB-Supercup, followed by two back-to-back seasons of winning the Bundesliga. At just 46 years of age, Klopp would fit the bill very, very well.
2. Dennis Bergkamp
Does anything need to be said about the legend that is Dennis Bergkamp? The answer is no.
But just to recap, Dennis has spent his last few years in a Ajax’s assistant manager role, learning the ropes and honing his already fantastic knowledge of Football. It has now been almost 8 years since Bergkamp retired in an Arsenal shirt, and I’m sure nobody at the club would sniff at his appointment. Although, his Aerophobia may become an issue (That’s a fear of flying, not Chocolate).
3. Joachim Löw
Löw is currently the manager of the German national side, and has been since 2006. The German has led his Nation to place in the Euro 2008 tournament, and to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
Joachim Löw has been blessed with a strong national squad, but his managerial abilities are not be sniffed at. At the age of 53, he still has some years left in him too.
4. Pep Guardiola
The Barcelona legend made his managerial name by proving himself for Barcelona B, before being promoted to first team coach.
Pep spent four years at the helm of Barcelona, winning the La Liga three times, the Champions League twice, and the Copa Del Ray twice. He is currently running the show over at Bayern Munich, and doing a pretty good job of it too. It would be difficult to argue with the decision if he were to be brought in.
5. Di Matteo
Roberto Di Matteo did a pretty good job at West Bromwich Albion, before being drafted in to replace the sacked Chelsea boss Andre Villa-Boas, to whom he was the assistant-manager.
Di Matteo spent just eight months in charge at Stamford Bridge, but managed to win two trophies, the FA Cup, and the Champions League, beating Bayern Munich at their home ground. His spell at Chelsea was impressive, and many thought he was dismissed unfairly. He’d be an interesting choice, to say the least.
6. Diego Simeone
After being unveiled as the manager of Athletico Madrid in 2011, Diego Simeone has done nothing but impress, especially in European competitions.
He has led Athletico to become UEFA Cup Champions in 2012, turning over Athletic Bilbao 3-0. He also went on to win the UEFA Super Cup, by beating Chelsea 4-1. More recently, he helped his side overcome Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa Del Ray Final, and managed to finish in third place in La Liga.
7. Tony Adams
I know what you’re thinking. This list is full of managerial masterminds, and then I throw in Tony Adams? Hear me out.
Mr Arsenal hasn’t exactly had an illustrious start to his managerial career. His spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Portsmouth and Azerbaijani side Gabala, were all relatively unsuccessful. However, I think that with a strong assistant coach (such as Steve Bould perhaps), along with Adams’ love for the club, he could just pull it off.
8. Laurent Blanc
Surprisingly, Blanc is the first Frenchman on the list. He manage the French National team for two years, before being drafted in to manage the newly reformed Paris Saint-Germain.
Blanc’s nickname in France is “Le Président”, which he earned due to his leadership skills shown at Marseille in his playing days. If we’re going by sheer similarity, Blanc fits the bill, but perhaps his quality will be better tested now that he is at the helm of a very quickly emerging club. He’s only 47, so for me, it’s slightly too early to say.
9. Remi Garde
Arsene Wenger actually bought Remi Garde to Arsenal on the same day as Patrick Vieira, which resulted in the Frenchman appearing over thirty times for The Gunners.
Garde is currently in charge of Lyon, and has been since 2011. Since his appointment, he has won the Coup de France, along with the Trophee des Champions. His link with Arsene and Arsenal make this move more feasible, whilst his fairly solid role at Lyon at the age of just 47 makes him an interesting name to discuss.
10. Michael Laudrup
The former Real Madrid & Barcelone star has been doing a superb job with Swansea, attracting big names such as Bony, whilst making shrewd buys in players such as Michu, Chico Flores and Shelvey.
On top of impressing in the transfer market, Laudrup has groomed The Swans into a more silkier, more skillful side than before, making them a genuine threat to most sides in the Premier League.
11. Dragan Stojkovic
Back in 2011, Arsene Wenger openly admitted that he would, “Love Stojkovic to be my successor, there are a hundred reasons for that.”
Dragan was appointed as manager of Nagoya Grampus (Arsene’s previous club) in 2008, and won them the J-League in 2010. Dragan played under Wenger at Grampus, and also played alongside Gary Linekar. Wenger speaks very highly of him, and so his name may come up more often than you think, as Wenger prepares to choose a successor.
12. Steve Bould
As far as I can tell, Steve has done a solid job since taking over from Pat Rice as assistant-manager at Arsenal. By the time Arsene does retire, Bould will have served a few years alongside the Frenchman, learning his ways and understanding his mentality. So, who better to take over from Wenger other than Wenger’s assistant?
Additionally, Bould’s Arsenal playing career means that he already has a bond with the club as its fans, and that’s always a plus.
So there you have it, no less than twelve candidates who I’m sure wouldn’t mind the chance to replace Arsene Wenger.
However, as much as you might love or hate the sound of some of the names I listed above, the decision is certainly not up to you or me. It’ll be Arsene’s call.
Much like the way in which David Moyes was hand-picked by Alex Ferguson, I’d imagine that the Arsenal board will also ask Wenger to select his successor when the Frenchman decides to call time on his career.
“I’d imagine that the Arsenal board will ask Wenger to select his successor when the Frenchman decides to call time on his career.”
Not too long ago, I wrote an article on why Wenger may have signed his last Arsenal contract. Currently, I do think he will extent, but I don’t believe he will plan a stay much longer than two years.
Of course, time will inevitably tell, and it will be hugely interesting to see who Wenger decides to pass the torch on to.
Who do you think should replace Arsene Wenger?