Planning For The Future: Who Could Succeed Wenger


By Jon Vine

It’s looking increasingly likely that this season will be Arsene Wenger’s last as Arsenal manager. It’s been an incredibly successful 21 years at the Gunners helm, in which time he has transformed himself from unknown Mr. Bean lookalike, to one of the most renowned and respected managers in the history of the game, and was even  tipped to replace Roy Hodgson.

During the second, less-successful decade of Wenger’s tenure, a lot of fans have turned on the manager, pointing the finger of blame solely at him as Arsenal have continually fallen short of expectations. But one thing is for sure, when he finally hangs up those glasses and extra-long winter coat, every single Gunners fan will be sad to see him leave.

But football doesn’t stand still for anyone and plenty of Arsenal fans will be looking forward with great anticipation to see who the board will go for to succeed Wenger as manager. Down the years, managers like Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman have been linked with the position, but none of the afore mentioned will be in the running. Let’s take a look at a few possible options.

Joachim Low

The World Cup winning Germany boss is the favourite with most bookmakers and it’s easy to see why he is viewed as the leading candidate. Low stepped up from his role as assistant when Jurgen Klinsmann left in 2006 and has proven himself as one of the best international managers in the business. He’s always keen to integrate the younger players into his squads and loves to play attacking football, whilst remaining very tactically diverse. However, his record at domestic level doesn’t make pretty reading, with two League triumphs in Austria the highlight of his eight years in club management, before joining the German coaching team. Whether this will count against him is yet to be seen, but I have a feeling it won’t be viewed upon kindly.

Carlo Ancelotti

He may have only just succeeded Guardiola with German giants Bayern Munich, but if anything does go wrong during his first season in Bavaria, then he would bring a very impressive CV to the table.
The 57 year old is a three-time Champions League winner and has won domestic titles in three different countries, including the Premier League during his brief spell across London at Stamford Bridge. Ancelotti is used to managing big names and big egos. He’s exceptionally good at building an attacking team around a high quality, technical midfield unit and he would certainly get that here at Arsenal. If he is available when the time comes, then he could be a highly appealing prospect.

Patrick Vieira

It’s unlikely that the board would go for someone with such little managerial experience, but Patrick could prove to be an exceptional circumstance. He will go down in history as one of the most inspirational and influential captains in Arsenal history, having lead the side to three League titles and four FA Cup triumphs during his nine years with Arsenal. Vieira knows the club inside-out and will instantly have the confidence of the Emirates faithful on his side. He’s a very imposing figure with a big reputation which would certainly come in useful when commanding the dressing room.
But as we all know, the best players don’t always make the best managers. He’s had a decent start to his managerial career in New York, but will probably have to return to Europe to cut his teeth in a top division, before he gets the opportunity to go for his dream job.

Frank De Boer

De Boers potential appointment would be a comfortable choice for the Arsenal board, as he is probably the closest thing to a like-for-like change they could find. A product of the Ajax academy, he has carried their “total football” philosophy with him throughout his glittering career, which saw him play almost 150 times for Barcelona and become the Netherlands most capped outfield player.
He’s been in charge of his beloved Ajax since 2010 and during those six years he has been linked with most of the major jobs in club football. His attacking philosophy with a strong technical base would certainly please Arsenal fans, and maybe his experiences as a player would give him an added edge over the other contenders.

Diego Simeone

You could make a case for all the managers mentioned above to be considered, but I’ve left Simeone until last because I think he is the outstanding candidate for the position.

The job he has done at Atletico Madrid has been nothing short of phenomenal. Just to be competitive against Barcelona and Real Madrid is one thing, but he has bettered both of those footballing superpowers on multiple occasions. He guided Atletico to their first League title in 18 years in 2014, drawing 1-1 at the Nou Camp on the final day of the season, to pip the Catalan giants to the finishing post.

Simone has also been able to transfer that La Liga success to the European stage, leading Atletico to two Champions League finals in the past three seasons. Sadly, he lost out on both occasions to Atletico’s Madrid rivals, but he masterminded aggregate wins over Barcelona on both of those successful runs to the final.

One factor that could stand against him is the style of football his Atletico side chose to employ. Arsene Wenger has instilled an identity within the club that attractive, passing based football is the way the game should be played. Simone on the other hand, is perfectly fine sacrificing style if it means he can get the right result. His Atletico team have become the most efficient defensive club side in the world, consistently boasting the best defensive records in both La Liga and the Champions League during his reign.

I think it would be a refreshing change to see a manager like Simone get the top job at Arsenal. He would bring a level of passion and intensity to the job, as well as a proven track record for winning big matches and big trophies. Succeeding the greatest manager in a clubs history is a thankless, unenviable task. Just ask David Moyes and Louis van Gaal. But Diego Simone has all the qualities needed to transform Arsenal from perceived fourth place specialists, to one of the most feared teams in Europe once again.

38 Replies to “Planning For The Future: Who Could Succeed Wenger”

  1. I would love to see Simeone, but doubt if we’d have the balls to appoint him. Loew is a good manager too, but I’d prefer to see a kick-arse die for your club guy like Simeone.

  2. Should the Board decide that the next manager must know nothing about football, be cursed with verbal diarrhoea and with a general presence as distasteful as that of Jose Mourinho, I can think of no-one more suitable than Piers Morgan.

  3. Strange article for this site.

    I don’t think he’ll go at the end of this year.

    My outside bet (as a non gambler) when Wenger decides to take up his pipe and slippers is Andre Schubert.

  4. Some big names here, and my own choice would be Carlo Ancelotti. I don’t think Jon’s favourite (Simeone) speaks English and I doubt if Vieira has the experience at the required level. And would any of them want the job in the first place, and if so would Arsenal try and poach a top manager from another club. Having said that there’s always some redundancies in this field at the end of each season, so we may have some quality pickings.
    No doubt we’ll see more of these types of articles over the next ten months or so as the pressure ramps up.

  5. Off topic , but Mike Riley on Talksport tonight from 7 pm uk time.

    As for the succession to the Arsenal throne , unless we fall outside the top 4 and Wenger decides to go ,the next man will have a thankless task as expectation will outweigh reality.

  6. Gary
    I think it’s a worthy article and must have passed editorial or it wouldn’t have been published.

  7. In order to determine who will be the new manager will depend on who does not have a contract of employment with a club at the time.

    I would be very surprised if Arsenal asked a manager to renounce his contract.

    This factor will possibly limit the choice.

    For me I am not fussed as to whose comes provided he is trustworthy and of course successful.

    My choice for the next four seasons is Arsene Wenger.

  8. I don’t agree with the premise, that AW is going at the end of this season, nor the implication that he’s let the supporters down in some way, just because, like Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, West Ham, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield, Charlton Athletic, Aston Villa, Ipswich, Queen’s Park Rangers, Blackburn (that’s probably enough: I’ve just listed teams I can remember as believing they had some right to win the league at some point in the past), Arsenal have not won the title for the past twelve years. Oh bless. How can we possibly support a team unless they win everything every year?

    Notwithstanding, the succession exercise is quite fun. Someone not mentioned, but whose integrity and management style I like, is Rafa Benitez. Why has he agreed to stay at a struggling club? Could it be that he is treading water, until he can move into the Emirates?

    Just a thought.

  9. “Oh bless. How can we possibly support a team unless they win everything every year?”

    No Max, not “everything every year” Just something sometimes will do.

  10. @Jon Vine

    It is indeed possible that this maybe Arsene Wenger’s last season but I think it will depend upon how this season pans out in terms of performance in the Premier League. If we are not pushing for the title come the turn of the year I think he may decide that this season is his last but if we are going well then why not stay on? If I had to guess now I would say that Arsene Wenger will stay for another 2 years beyond this season and I would be happy with that.

    I can’t argue with the candidates that you’ve suggested other than they are rather obvious (Wenger wasn’t an obvious appointment) but none of them particularly stir the soul. Also to take into consideration is who will want to come and is available.

    One would think that Arsenal must have a succession plan in any case, so I’m sure that they will have their priorities worked through.

  11. @Leon. I enjoyed two FA cups and two Community Shields in the past three years. Didn’t you?

  12. Jon,

    interesting reading.

    However, why should we be ‘lenient’ towards Ancelotti if he does not succeed at Bayern ?

    As for Simeone, sorry, but a few ‘unsportsmanlike’ events that have happened at Atletico just don’t seem in sync with the Arsenal I love.
    If we consider him, on the same level, why not then special one because he as won stuff as well.

  13. May I say the F.A Cups were fun but the community shield is a pre season friendly. I don’t expect to win things every season but I do expect my club to move heaven and earth in an attempt to do so . Sadly to use a commonly used phrase I think the club is run with the handbrake on.

  14. If Arsenal win PL, then AW is not going anywhere. On the other hand if not, he will probably decide to go, but this will only happen anyway when the right replacement is found. Ergo, AW will step down when the replacement, whoever it is, becomes available.

    I feel that the players must know that they have to shift up one gear now and have the determination all season long that they sometimes lack.

    This will be a defining season for many of them, and, don’t forget that they are a few who may start to think of other places, especially if offers start to come in.

  15. Now we know that GOAL is a lot of shhhh…
    I found this statement on Goal:

    “Chelsea are most despised by Tottenham fans”.

    Now we at Arsenal know that this just cannot be true. 🙂

  16. There is no way that this board would allow someone like Simeone to be Arsenal manager because they wouldn’t be able to dictate to him. Truth is that they have no plan because if they did they would have gone for Guardiola or have someone already at the club ready to take over. Barcelona promote from within but I unfortunately can’t see Bould as manager. Perhaps i’m wrong, I hope so because that’s the only plan that they might have.

  17. What about Steve Bould or Tuchel or any other managers that play nice football from ligue 1 or 2,German ligue 2 but don’t hope for a known name or figure

  18. I think it would be cool if we were to select a young bright mind from the lower leagues, bring him in as a number two for a little while and then let him have at ‘er. My impression is that there are excellent managers in the league who do amazing, imaginative things with no money but they consistently get overlooked because they don’t have a recognizable name. Just my two pence.

  19. Changing subjet (or person) of the subject

    What do you think of Francis Coquelin playing center back ?

    He did mention it on twitter and sure enough the blogosphere is talking of a fan meltdown, of the end of the world, of the next coming of Lucifer….

    As far as I am concerned, I just thought : wow, why the h..l not ? Motivation ? check. Physical ability ? Check. Tackling ? Check. Anticipation ? Check even if maybe not as good as Per. So why not ? After all he’s in the team, gets his pay and wants to play. Ah yes, forgot the last one. He speaks french, so no issue communicating with Koz.

    Or am I crazy and should I head for the next anti-nuclear bunker because the end of the world is near ?

  20. I am always amused by the ‘fantasy football’ owners who choose a successor for Wenger. Firstly, Wenger is not going anywhere after he vacates the coaching role. He will appoint a coach to continue the tiki taka. He will then gradually hand over the economics of the game to a set of officials. He will also ensure that the blue print that he has created is followed to ensure the quality football club system.

    There isn’t any single person that can take over from Wenger. He is a MBA, linguist, economist & holistic health master of the game. He has an understanding beyond the pale of all things football. Very few will ever get close to his incredible broad knowledge that has brought Arsenal to where it is.

    Many ‘managers’ will win trophies but none will build a legacy.

  21. Menace

    You know all this for certain do you? How could you possibly know Wenger’s intentions?
    Seems like you’re indulging in a bit of fantasy youself.

  22. Chris

    I hadn’t heard about Coquelin saying that he could play at central defence, but there is precedent with Toure & McLintock, so why not

  23. Chris , height is the biggest problem with that idea. Coquelin is 1.78 which is about 5 foot 9 /10 . Playing with Koscielny at just over 6′ 0 foot would leave us exposed to the likes of Carrol, Crouch and other 6 foot plus players.

  24. Porter

    What is the vertical jump distance of the typical Olympic power lifter?

    In a 10 yard (not 50 or 100) sprint, who wins between an Olympic sprinter and an Olympic power lifter?

    People can be trained to increase their vertical, e4specially if young.

  25. I think Low would be the perfect manager for Arsenal but I think he will go to either Bayern Munich or Bayer Leverkusen. I think a candidate that we over look is Didier Deschamps the current French team and ex-Marseille manager.

  26. The Brickfields Gunners Blog today confirms that Arsenal’s next manager will definitely NOT be an Englishman . You may quote me on that !
    WOO HOO , HOO !
    Up the Gunners !
    This ought to get me a few more clicks , methinks .

  27. Intentional international humour –
    Can it get geographically punnier than this?

    Timmy : I’m Hungary,.
    Mum : Why don’t you Czech the fridge.
    Timmy : Ok, I’m Russian to the kitchen.
    Mum : Hmm…maybe you’ll find some Turkey.
    Timmy : Yeah, but its all covered in Greece. Yuck !
    Mum : There is Norway you can eat that.
    Timmy : I know, I guess I’ll just have a can of Chile.
    Mum : Denmark your name on the can.
    Timmy : Kenya do it for me?
    Mum : Ok , I’m Ghana do it.
    Timmy : Thanks, i’m so tired Iran for an hour today.
    Mum : It Tokyo long enough.
    Timmy : Yeah, Israeli hard sometimes !

  28. @Brickfields Gunners, why do people dislike good humour???? oh i know, same as they dislike good football, art drawn the Arsne way, executed the ARSENAL way.
    Loving the Club is a choice i’ve made, and given the opporunity to choose again, Arsenal all the way. Please shut up and support the team….(moaners) or piss out.(peace is better)

  29. Gord at what point does a centre back jump vertically ? It’s always an angle . Trust me in boxing they always said that a good big un will always beat a good little un. Same thing applies .A running jump from a 6 foot 4 forward will always get over the top of a 5 foot 10 defender. Perhaps if Le Coq ( 5 foot 9 ) plays there tonight we will see if Drogba (6 foot 2 ) pulls onto him as they approach.

  30. Personally, dont think this season will be wengers last….and I hope it is not.
    Perhaps two or three more years, then maybe Arteta given a chance?
    Some good managers in that list. But, Loew does ill mannered things when watching games…I for one would not like to shake his hand…, Simeone was a cheat as a player, and can use some pretty dubious tactics as a manager.
    According to the press, Eddie Howe at Bournemouth seems flavour of the month….

  31. @BG, what did you do to have so many dislike? You’re getting popular by the day, one thing for sure you have many readers reading your posts ?

  32. Why do they hate me so ? Because of the humour ? Nah ! They probably don’t understand it at all !
    I guess its probably all the overwelming positivity that exudes from my posts and anecdotes . Too sweet for’them ‘!
    Gives ‘them’ a splitting headache and churns their stomach !
    The treatment ? Take a chill pill .

  33. How Do I Love Thee?
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of being and ideal grace.
    I love thee to the level of every day’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
    I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.

  34. @BG, lol very true. Keep up the good posts, the more you annoy ‘them’ the better.

  35. As far as I’m concerned Simeone isn’t a manager I’d ever wish to be involved with AFC for a number of reasons. One of whicg being that He plays quite a physical game which wouldn’t go down well with the PGMO and especially for a team wearing AFC shirts.
    I can however see him thriving at Mike Rileys ManU.
    Hopefully he’ll stay in Spain.

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