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The ten candidates linked to Arsenal’s open managerial position

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Hours after Arsene Wenger announced his resignation, we went into detail about ten candidates you’ll see linked in the coming days and weeks

Arsenal FC v CSKA Moskva - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final Leg One Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

There will be quite a few pieces in the next few days and weeks ahead linking prospective candidates to what is now the most desired open managerial position in the world - that being the spot Arsene Wenger is leaving behind after 22 illustrious years at Arsenal. To get ahead of the rumors, Aidan and I wrote about the ten names you’ll no doubt see (or have seen) linked to replacing Wenger. We ranked the candidates on a scale of 1-5 (1 being bad, 5 being good) in regards to how realistic they are to be considered by Arsenal to begin with, how “modern” they are in their approach to managing and tactics, and how well we think they’d adapt to being at a club like Arsenal.

Starting off our the candidates we feel are highly-unlikely to become the next manager at Arsenal, and we’ll work our way to the four we feel are most-likely.

The Unlikely’s:

Luis Enrique

Realistic: 1
Modern: 2
Adaptability: 2

Enrique’s inclusion on this list is simply to tell you not to believe the rumors currently circulating linking him to the now-vacant Arsenal job. Many believe he’s already close to, or agreed to, a deal taking him to Chelsea starting next season, and that seems much more plausible given that they’re a club who has an aging roster who rely on established, talented players to do the heavy lifting for everyone else around them. As Barcelona manager, the best that can be said about Enrique is that he didn’t interfere with the formula that’s proven to work: keeping Lionel Messi happy and supported by other, uber-talented players. While he might be able to do that at Arsenal, there’s little to suggest that he can oversee a reconstruction project that’s desperately needed once Wenger leaves. - TK

Julian Nagelsmann

Realistic: 2
Modern: 5
Adaptability: 2

The wünderkid. Nagelsmann won’t be 31 until June, which makes him younger than quite a few of Arsenal’s first team. He is the modern manager: extremely adept and flexible tactically, able to do a lot with lesser resources, and into analytics. He likes to attack with an organized structure, which would be a change after the fluid attacking principles of Arsène Wenger, but has spoken about the necessity of playing attacking football, calling Wenger “an inspiration.” Nagelsmann has a BA in Sports Science, and has also spoken about the necessity to be “socially competent,” calling it 70% of the job (as opposed to the idea that he is a laptop manager). He’s been linked with a move to Bayern Munich in the future. - AG

Joachim Löw

Realistic: 3
Modern: 2
Adaptability: 2

Löw hasn’t managed club football in 14 years. That alone would severely disqualify him were he not Joachim Löw: manager of the German National Team and 2014 World Cup champions. He’s famously loyal to Mesut Özil, and given the many other German connections with the club it stands to reason he’ll continue to be linked with the open position – that is, until it’s eventually filled by someone other than Joachim Löw. Because for one, Arsenal have a certain standard they hold for the manager and chief among that is lacking a desire to consistently smell how fresh your ass and balls smell. But also, Löw doesn’t have a unique set of tactics that can set Arsenal apart of its peers. - TK

Dominic Tedesco

Realistic: 2
Modern: 5
Adaptability: 2

In only his first full year as a professional manager, Tedesco has shocked Germany and Europe by leading Schalke to a very surprising 2nd place in the Bundesliga table. Only 32 years of age, a trend among a lot of the German wunderkind managers, Tedesco received plaudits from his peers prior to, and during, his reign in Gelsenkirchen for his relentless desire to innovate through existing squad pieces. He famously finished first in his coaching badges class ahead of Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann, and has since disproven any doubts about his ability to quickly transform a club previously stuck in their ways. While Arsenal desire a progressive, attacking brand of football whose roster is continually fed from a rich and deep academy, it doesn’t appear that Tedesco’s meteoric rise in the last 12 months in the coaching world will continue to reach even greater heights by landing in North London. - TK

The Not Gonna Happen and He Wouldn’t Be Linked If His Name Wasn’t Thierry Henry:

Thierry Henry

Realistic: 3
Modern: 2
Adaptability: 5

Like another candidate on the list, Thierry Henry needs no introduction to Arsenal, and vice versa. His statue outside the Emirates speaks to his legendary status at the club, and as a player looking to get into the club coaching world his credentials on the pitch are probably only shadowed by Zinedine Zidane. But unfortunately, production as a player doesn’t translate to success as a manager. There’s an entire landfill full of former, very good players who flamed out as a boss, and Henry’s desire to become a better pundit for Sky rather than working under Wenger in the academy left more than a few people at the club wondering how committed he was to becoming a top-flight manager. While he’s gained experience as an assistant to Roberto Martinez for the Belgium National Team there’s simply not enough in Henry’s resume to warrant handing over a club like Arsenal, a club going through such a stark and abrupt transition, and expecting both the manager and club to succeed as one. - TK

The Yeah OK Sure Maybe Whatever:

Carlo Ancelotti

Realistic: 3
Modern: 1
Adaptability: 3

The safe choice. Although sacked by Bayern Munich earlier this season, Ancelotti has won the Champions League, Bundesliga and Copa del Rey over the past four seasons. Chosen by Bayern Munich to replace Pep Guardiola, he oversaw a more lax training and tactical approach, making small changes, rather than big, wholesale changes. Ancelotti builds really good midfields, and seems content to operate within a structure where he’s not making decisions on player transfers. This can be good--it helps delineate responsibility at the club--but Ancelotti might not bring the radical change that is perhaps necessary after twenty-two years of Arsène Wenger. On the other hand, given the squad profile--older, established superstars--he might be less disruptive. - AG

The Likely’s:

Mikel Arteta

Realistic: 4
Modern: 4
Adaptability: 4

A curveball. Arteta was well-respected as Arsenal’s captain, and was offered a coaching position at the academy when he announced his retirement. He turned down the position--not out of spite, but because he was approached by Pep Guardiola to be his assistant at Manchester City. Arteta, one of a number of close assistants for Guardiola, has had a well-documented role at City, especially this season. He has been City’s video analyst and has worked with players on movement, runs and finishing, with one, Raheem Sterling, enjoying a twenty-goal season, having scored ten last season. He has spoken about his football philosophy before, talking about the necessity of being an attacking side, but one that prepared for the opposition, and was tactically flexible, and also gave opportunities to young players--all of which are values Ivan Gazidis hinted at in his press conference. He is reportedly a Gazidis favourite, but with no managerial experience, that comes with a risk: if things go badly, he could be seen as a front office stooge and lose the dressing room. The ceiling here is an Arsenal version of Guardiola, but Guardiola did have a season of managing, albeit at Barcelona B. The reward is potentially very high, but so too is the risk. - AG

Leonardo Jardim

Realistic: 3
Modern: 5
Adaptability: 3

AS Monaco have had one of the better runs in Europe the last four years, and that directly coincides with the arrival of Leonardo Jardim as manager. He previously guided Sporting CP to 2nd place in Primeira Liga using mostly academy players, and set about doing the same at Monaco. Arsenal fans no doubt remember the drubbing they were handed to them by Jardim’s side in the Champions League Round of 16 in 2015, and the Venezuelan has since capped off his amazing run with a Ligue 1 title in 2017, again using heralded youth players he graduated to the first team such as Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Benjamin Mendy, and Bernardo Silva. Jardim’s proven to adapt his tactics to the roster he’s been dealt with, and he also knows how to successfully set up a side around two strikers – something that might come in handy at Arsenal. - TK

Brendan Rodgers

Realistic: 4
Modern: 5
Adaptability: 3

The bookies favourite. Rodgers is most notable for nearly winning the league with Liverpool in 2013-14, thwarted by Steven Gerrard slipping. He’s a modern, tactically adept manager, who plays exciting, attacking football. His work at Celtic is hard to rate; going unbeaten for over 60 games is incredible, but the level of play is at a lower standard than the Premier League. Rodgers flamed out at Liverpool, but part of that was their absolute failure to replace Luis Suarez, and Daniel Sturridge breaking down. He uses young players, a plus, but also saw Liverpool concede 200 goals in 166 games, which could be problematic. On the other hand, he’s one of two linked candidates to have managed in the Premier League. - AG

Patrick Vieira

Realistic: 5
Modern: 5
Adaptability: 5

Shortly behind Rodgers’ on the bookies’ list of favorites, Vieira is the only one of the former Arsenal players linked (Vieira, Mikel Arteta and Thierry Henry) to have managerial experience. Before managing New York City FC in MLS, Vieira was involved with Manchester City’s academy, before becoming the academy manager. Now in his third season at NYC FC, he reached the playoffs in his first two seasons in charge, losing in the conference semi-finals (second round) each time. He has gained a reputation for being tactially flexible, but that might be because he deployed a W-M system for some home games during the 2016 season, to take advantage of how narrow Yankee Stadium is for football. - AG

(the below added by pdb at 11.30)

The Banter Candidate:

Sol Campbell

Realistic: 5
Modern: 5
Adaptability: 5

I mean, c’mon. Sol’s actively looking for a job, can’t get one, and as far as banter goes this would be off the charts awesome. Would he be a good manager? I don’t know, and part of me doesn’t care. It’s Sol Campbell! The banterness of it would be so off the charts, they’d have to retire banter as a thing, because there’s nothing that could top that.