It’s been on the cards for a while, but in this past week, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has finally come clean about his plans for his future, as he announced that he will be stepping aside at the end of this season. After a 22-year spell at the North London club, but with an admittedly significant drop in performance in the last few years, Arsenal will finally have to find a replacement for their longest serving manager. With many of the current greats like Mourinho, Guardiola, and Klopp already at other Premier League clubs – who are Arsenal’s best options?
Ancelotti’s pedigree is exceptionally impressive, with his most recent job being at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and with Real Madrid before that – where he won a Champions League title with the Spanish side. He’s known for being an astute man-manager, keeping the morale and mood in his teams positive. Beyond his good natured influence, it’s his ability as a good defensive coach that might appeal most to the Arsenal board – as their defence of late has left a lot to be desired. He’s easily the most complete package, offering not only effective management and coaching but also the high profile name that will attract good players to the club during the summer.
Unfortunately, Ancelotti has been publicly offered the Italian National Team job, and being a native Italian who once represented his country as a player, it might be a temptation he can’t turn down.
Simeone is another former player that took to the managerial game like a duck to water – architecting Atletico Madrid’s admirable demolition of the La Liga duopoly headed by Barcelona and Real Madrid. He’s known for being a taskmaster with his players, drawing disciplined and determined performances from his team – two things Arsenal have been sorely lacking in recent years. He also places a lot of emphasis on defensive solidity while maintaining good attacking play, making him a balanced choice that won’t dilute Arsenal’s signature attacking style too significantly.
He’s won a La Liga title with Atletico, as well as a Copa Del Rey and Europa League title, and appeared in two Champions League finals. Arsenal’s soft attitude has been a consistent point of complaint for fans and pundits alike, an aspect of their team that Simeone will be well-equipped to remedy.
Another accomplished Italian, currently the manager of Juventus, has also had his name whispered regarding Arsenal’s managerial successor. His main claim to fame is his effective transformation of Juventus back into a European juggernaut. Before his tenure there started in 2014, the Turin-based giants were dominating their local Serie A, but struggled to make a name for themselves in the Champions League. Through a highly efficient scouting network and Allegri’s tactical coaching ability, they managed to get back to the top of the European game, having been runners up in both 2014/2015 as well as 2016/2017. While he doesn’t have Ancelotti’s long history, he’s proven his ability for a number of years and is definitely capable of being mentioned in the same breath as current winners like Klopp, Ancelotti, and Mourinho.
Surprisingly, Arteta’s name has been thrown into the mix in the last few days, and while he doesn’t have any formal experience heading up a team himself, there are some reasons why he might be a good choice. He was a player for Arsenal for a number of years, so he understands the club culture and what the fans expect of their players. What might appeal most to Arsenal’s board, though, is that he’s been serving as somewhat of an apprentice with Guardiola at Manchester City, learning from Guardiola’s approach and principles. Guardiola likes a free-flowing attacking set up for his team, not unlike how Wenger has set Arsenal up for over two decades. Arteta shadowing Guardiola for the last two seasons might mean he’s ready to take over a club of his own, but he remains a significant risk because he’s untested.
Arsenal will likely be mulling over their choices until at the end of the season, and perhaps only make an announcement closer to the World Cup. They’ve got several promising options at to consider, but their choice of manager could have a significant impact on their trajectory for the next few seasons. Will they go with the proven and experienced, or give the reins to a young and potentially untried manager?