Arsenal’s failure to grab a Champions League place for the second year running has made them a less attractive proposition for any prospective manager. One by one, the top candidates have either found new jobs, declared their intentions to remain at their current clubs or declined an approach.
It seemed that the shortlist was becoming the size of a bus ticket, as the Arsenal board realised that attracting the caliber of manager they required wasn’t going to be as easy as getting rid of Wenger. First Allegri, Tuchel, then Enrique and now it appears Ancelloti, have all fallen by the wayside, leaving the club looking at other options.
Arteta and Naglesmann were in the mix but were not the preferred first choice. Gazidis was and is still keen on Arteta, whilst Mislintat has always wanted Naglesmann and now, because of Arsenal’s failure to get the ‘big name’ they thought they deserved, they are having to rethink their targets without lowering their aspirations.
Conte would be a fabulous fit for the Gunners. The Italian has endured a difficult second season with the London club due to a perceived lack of support.
Frustrations over transfer targets and the handling of Diego Costa have hindered the club and created a toxic atmosphere. An FA cup win may not even be enough to save the Italian and it’s something he is well aware of.
Conte and Chelsea are highly likely to part company within days of that final and Arsenal would do well to wait before making any rash decisions on who their next manager may be.
Apart from Conte, I’ve favoured Naglesmann for some time because he is a young, exceptional manager, who isn’t afraid of a challenge. He has taken Hoffenheim from the bottom of the division, close to relegation in the Bundesliga, to a fourth spot finish and Champions League qualification.
He also fits the Arsenal profile with an attacking philosophy which Wenger established in his first ten years with the club. If Arsenal are looking to make an impact within the next few years, either of these candidates would achieve what Arsenal want. The only other candidate I would consider, which may raise a few eyebrows is Rafa Benitez.
Rafa has been amazing this season, with very little cash to spend, he has fashioned a competitive team and has deserved all the praise that came his way. Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, was incredibly supportive after the victory over Chelsea on the final day, but one senses that this is to placate the fans who realise that if Arsenal came calling, Benitez would have his bags packed, heading for the station.
Arteta’s appointment is likely to divide fans down the middle, replacing Wenger is difficult enough but with a virtual rookie, it may be impossible. No one knows if Guardiola’s Midas touch has rubbed off on the Spaniard. He has surrounded himself with a number of excellent coaches, all of which play a part but they are not Guardiola.
It’s a bit like throwing a party where a David Beckham lookalike is present. Visually interesting but not the same and probably minus the talent. Arteta is untested and that surely is too big a gamble for a club in transition like Arsenal to make. There may yet be a twist, I’m hearing that there is another candidate, possibly Unai Emery, the former coach of PSG will be invited to the interview process but this is unconfirmed.
Moyes and Allardyce should be advised not to expect a call anytime soon. The next few weeks will be incredibly interesting and anxious Arsenal fans will have to hope that Gazidis doesn’t stray outside the box too much or they may be looking at another infringement season without Wenger to shoulder the blame.
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