Arsenal seek a new boss for the first time in over two decades following the announcement current Gunners manager Arsene Wenger will leave the Emirates Stadium at the end of this season.
How do you replace the mastermind behind ‘The Invincibles’ and most successful coach in FA Cup history? It’s going to be tough for whoever takes up the mantle from Wenger, so this is a real watershed moment for Arsenal.
The Gunners board and chief executive Ivan Gazidis are at a major crossroads; do they choose a big name to take over or gamble on an up-and-coming boss who may or may not be a former player? With Arsenal set for only a top six spot in the EPL, and betting tips for upcoming football matches sometimes reflecting their demise, could finishing outside the Champions League places again effect their search for a new coach?
If they can win the Europa League and return to European football’s top table via that route, then that can only help. Given the size of this North London club and its location, high-profile names are inevitably being linked with stepping in to Wenger’s shoes regardless of where they end up in the EL table.
Post must appeal to Enrique
Ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is clear favourite (7/2 in places) with bookmakers after the departing Gunners gaffer endorsed him as a candidate, but there’s no indication at this stage that Wenger has any real say in his successor unlike when Sir Alex Ferguson retired at Manchester United. The Spaniard is fresh following his sabbatical this season but has said he will only return to management in an exciting role and will doubtless attract other suitors.
Beyond Enrique, the next Arsenal manager betting has very little consensus. Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is double-figures prices in some places, but as short as 4/1 with some bookmakers.
It’s a similar story for Germany’s World Cup-winning coach Joachim Loew (12/1), who still has two years left on his contract with the national team; and Mikel Arteta (also 12/1), the ex-Gunners captain assisting Pep Guardiola and thus part of this season’s Premier League title-winning setup.
Ancelotti an appealing punt
One name who looks overpriced is Carlo Ancelotti (14/1), who did the EPL and FA Cup double while with Chelsea. The Italian has won league titles in Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga too.
Ancelotti has also done something in management three times already that has always eluded Wenger; win the Champions League. His last four jobs, which include coaching PSG and Real Madrid, have all resulted in win records of well over 60%.
A strange sacking from Bayern Munich last autumn where he lost just nine games means Ancelotti is a free agent. Arsenal may have to compete with the Italian national team for his services, however, as the FIGC seek to rebuild the Azzurri after failing to reach the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
Despite that Ancelotti is the only man linked with going to the Gunners after Wenger who has the proven EPL title-winning experience as manager. If the board want Arsenal to seriously challenge for top spot again, then a coach with these credentials is essential.