Jurgen Klopp & 5 Candidates To Replace Wenger as Arsenal Boss


Arsene Wenger hunting season has opened early this year.

The long-coated Wenger is typically found running free as the nights draw in, flushed with health and striding into press conferences like the Patrick Vieira once strode around Highbury. It's usually not until spring approaches that he turns pale and runs for cover.

This season the false optimism has died of its first cold. Arsenal are already floundering and it's only November. Fans are calling for Wenger's head on the guillotine and there's a sense that more of them than usual have had enough. 

But while it's all very well wanting #wengerout, and all very entertaining going viral with vitriol like YouTube's latest sensation Claude, it's not the way forward. The bigger question is who Arsenal could realistically get to replace Wenger, and whether that man truly represents a better long-term option. 

Here are five possible candidates and some context on what we might expect.

 

1. Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund)

Let's start with the most obvious one. Klopp's stock remains extremely high, and there must be an acceptance from the bespectacled charmer that Bayern Munich have left Dortmund so far behind he won't catch them again.

Even if Dortmund do make up ground, it will only prompt Bayern to sign more of their best players anyway. Lose-lose, or whatever the German word is for that kind of depressing reality.

The argument for Klopp at Arsenal is a compelling one for the romantics. His teams playing attractive football, he's proven when it comes to nurturing young talent, and he's been able to over-achieve on his transfer spending domestically and in the Champions League. Kerching.

And then there's the German connection, which certainly wouldn't hurt on a relationship level with Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski.

 

2. Ronaldo Koeman (Southampton)

Architect of the early-season miracle of St Mary's, Koeman's suitably should be measured on a full season at the club rather than just the opening quarter.

Should he go on to achieve a top-six finish with the Saints (top four would be one of the great feats in the modern English game), he becomes a viable candidate. 

Koeman's Ajax-to-Barcelona bred philosophy fits the Arsenal way, and at 51 he potentially has his best years in management ahead of him.

He's already worked in five countries as a manager, which provides a naturally broad scouting perspective. There's also the draw he'd have to players as a legendary figure in the game himself.

Could the Dutch connection lead to the Gooner dream proposition of Dennis Bergkamp coming in as Koeman's assistant? 

READ: Why Don't Man City Care About The Champions League?

READ: Football Manager 2015: Iain Macintosh's Top tips

 

3. Roberto Martinez (Everton)

Martinez is only a season and a bit into his Everton project - a job that is bigger in scope than the one he had at Wigan.

Would it be too soon to elevate the eloquent Spaniard to yet another tier on the management ladder? Would Martinez himself consider it a betrayal of the faith Everton showed him?

Most worrying of all, would be the concern that Arsenal going to Goodison for Martinez could end the way things did when Manchester United went for David Moyes.

As a Wenger replacement right now, I don't think Gunners fans would be convinced. As a potential Arsenal manager in five years time, however, Martinez could be ideal.

 

4. Rafa Benitez (Napoli)

My wild card selection. Rafa Benitez, lest we forget, knows how to get it done in English football. In seven years with Liverpool and Chelsea he won the Champions League, FA Cup, European Super Cup and Europa League.

He knows the Premier League inside out and reportedly would love a return - the question is whether a big English club would be prepared to take a punt on him again.

Could he do a short-term job of winning things at Arsenal? It's quite possible. Would the fans want him there? Almost certainly not. 

 

5. Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)

Diego Simeone overachieved to a spectacular degree in leading Atletico Madrid to the Spanish title and Champions League final last season.

He'd already won them a Europa League, Copa del Rey and European Super Cup, and it's hard to think of a more desirable young manager in the game right now outside of Pep Guardiola (who won't be the next Arsenal manager, so give up on that one).

Simeone's hard-nosed approach could be perfect for Arsenal. You get the sense he'd come in, add steel immediately and cut the fat off Arsenal's squad to streamline them for success. Nothing less than full commitment would do it for him.

Moreover, he'd revolutionise their defensive approach and take Arsenal back to their 1-0 halcyon days. "Atletico became possibly the most organised side - particularly without the ball - in the history of football," wrote tactics guru Michael Cox of Simeone's achievement last season.

 

Conclusion

Arsenal won't sack Wenger so this is all irrelevant if we're honest. If they did look beyond him, however, or if he decided to resign, my take is that Simeone would be the best next step.

That's if Arsenal fans are truly concerned primarily with winning trophies, and not just playing lovely football to finish in the top four.

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