A vocal sub-section of Arsenal’s fan-base are once again calling for Arsene Wenger’s job after he watched from the stands during Arsenal’s limp 3-1 loss to Chelsea. It was a performance that lacked the impetuous and in-game nous that leads to wins of any kind against the top teams.
With that said, I, the author believes that we should be looking to the likes of Diego Simeone to instill such attributes within the team – it’s never entirely clear who the board (and Wenger himself) will choose to succeed him. Given Arsene Wenger’s ability to pluck players out of obscurity and make them Premier League stars, I’ll be going through several managerial candidates that could hold that left-field status.
All of the following managers in this list have shown a variety of attributes desired by Arsenal fans currently throughout their careers.
Candidate 1: Marcelo Gallardo, age 42, currently managing River Plate in Argentina.
Marcelo Gallardo is currently the most successful coach on the internationally in the River Plate’s history. His team have won a total of five international titles, having won 4 of those titles in the amazing 2014/15 season. One of those was the 2014/15 Copa Libertadores, Domestically, he most recently led River Plate to the 2016 Copa Argentina.
Whilst he has yet to win a league title in Argentina, he has proven tactical flexibility and a desire to play energetic, pressing football and attacking opposition teams using the ever-changing resources he has within his teams. River Plate often sell players to Europe with players like Funes Mori, Kranevitter and Balanta being the most notable departures. The continued successes achieved by Gallardo despite the loss of promising players to Europe’s riches, means that he has shown the capability of handling the unexpected, something a top-level Premier League career has in abundance.
Candidate 2: Murat Yakin, age 42, currently unemployed.
I have included Murat Yakin not for his disappointing Spartak Moscow tenure, but for his phenomenal stint in charge of FC Basel. He was brought in 11 games into the 2012/13 season and ended up three points clear to give FC Basel their fourth title in a row.
His tactical style revolves around a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation which can become a 4-1-4-1 during the tougher games. Highlights of his tenure include a 29-game unbeaten streak domestically during his last season in charge. It was also during his tenure that he managed, he had to sell players like Alexander Dragovic, Mohammed Salah and suffered horrendous injury lists throughout his tenure which affected his side’s European campaigns. During those campaigns he beat Chelsea (twice), Tottenham and Valencia in Champions League and Europa league ties, drawing praise from Jose Mourinho in the process.
Candidate 3: Vincenzo Montella, age 42, currently managing AC Milan
Yes, this is the ex-player Montella who scored 191 goals in 383 games in a career that stayed mostly in Italy, but he did play very briefly for Fulham during the Chris Coleman/Laurie Sanchez years. His managerial career has seen him take control of Roma briefly, Catania, Sampdoria and currently AC Milan.
During his tenure at The Viola to three consecutive 4th place finishes alongside also reaching an Europa League semi-final and a Coppa Italia final. They did this while playing his distinct brand of football, which at the time was considered to be free-flowing system that alternated between 3-5-2, 3-4-3, 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 systems depending on the opposition and was pleasing on the eye. Focusing on technical, quick passing triangles that consistently maintained and dominated possession.
Since he has taken over at AC Milan, he has adapted once more and plays a more stoic, defensively sound 4-3-3 that has taken AC Milan from a complete mess into once again looking towards taking their place in European competition. Concentrating on winning, and potentially comparable to ex-Arsenal manager George Graham in his manner and ideology – paired with Arsenal’s current talent pool could be the steely figure required post-Wenger.
Ralf Rangnick, age 58, currently Sporting Director at RB Leipzig.
A manager, currently in a Director role upstairs at Bundesliga’s hot-club RB Leipzig. He was linked with the England job before it was given to Gareth Southgate, so he’s not as obscure as you might think. His managerial career has been fairly modest, managed German sides like Stuttgart, Hannover 96 and Hoffenheim.
I’m including him on this list for the same reasons that he was considered for the England job. He’s actually been dubbed on occasion as a ‘German Wenger’ for his iron-clad rule of playing progressive, attacking football. However I’m not talking about Wengerball as you know it – Rangnick favours aggressive defending and forward play. If you want to see an example of this philosophy, go and watch RB Leipzig and how they’ve played into 2nd place just four points behind Bayern Munich and a huge eight points ahead of third-place Dortmund.
Arsenal fans would certainly enjoy his straight-talking, direct yet grounded playstyle. Oh, and he also doesn’t like to sign anyone over the age of 24, which would be in-keeping with Wenger’s legacy at Arsenal.
Steve Bould, age 54, currently assistant manager at Arsenal.
My final choice, and perhaps a choice that wouldn’t be a bad idea of a cheap bet before Wenger steps down. An ex-player who played for the club between 1988 and 1999 and a member of the Arsenal staff since 2001.
He became Arsenal’s assistant manager in the summer of 2012, following Pat Rice’s departure.
Steve Bould successfully managed the U18 academy side to an FA Youth Cup win, alongside Premier Academy League titles in the 08/09 and 2009/10 seasons. Steve Bould’s time in the spotlight came to the fore during the beginning of his tenure as assistant when he was largely credited for the increase in defensive solidarity – something Arsenal could do with renewed concentration upon given their current attacking riches.
He has been at the club for 16 years, he would be a very popular choice within the Arsenal set-up and I believe he would be a steadying presence that would limit a slide down the table suffered by United, Chelsea and Liverpool in recent years.