Arsene Wenger, in an interview with L’Equipe magazine, has hinted that this may be his final season in charge of Arsenal.
Asked if the project he has put in place was a long-term one, Wenger replied, “No. For me we’re now talking short term, it’s obvious. But whether it’s with me or someone else, it changes nothing. My successor needs foundations on which he can be successful”.
In Wenger Arsenal got two for the price of one.
He was a sporting director and a coach. The difference is that a coach needs to worry about next game and focus all his energies on that. A sporting director should have a grander vision for the club. Both should work together but some of their interests conflict, which, on some levels, is good for the dynamics of the club.
The coach always wants to improve the squad; the sporting director offers brakes and a different opinion. The coach works for the present and the sporting director has an eye for the future.
So, there are two answers to the question “Who can replace Wenger?”.
Arsenal need a sporting director. Liam Brady is an obvious candidate because of his experience and his Arsenal DNA.
Who can coach? There are a lot of great, offensive minded coaches out there: some young, some more experienced – that can work well with Brady.
Here are a few that can fit:
The young: Paul Lambert or Brendan Rodgers. Both talented, studious, thoughtful, sophisticated and are loved by their players because of great man management skills.
The Arsenal through and through: Steve Bould and Dennis Bergkamp. Bould, the under 18 manager, is highly rated at the club and the fans love him. Bergkamp’s appointment will also please the fans – however, he might prefer to join the club as an assistant manager. Anyhow, both understand what Arsenal are about.
The experienced ones: Jurgen Klopp, Martin O’Neill, Ralf Rangnick, Carlo Ancelotti. All experienced and professional enough to take over the club and take it forward.
The ultimate replacement : Pep Guardiola.