It’s been an emotional last few weeks at the Emirates Stadium. After 22 incredible years, Arsene Wenger will finally be stepping down from his Arsenal throne. Though behind the tearful goodbyes, there is a tangible excitement around the club that has not existed for years. Fans are brimming with anticipation, for the first time in many of their lives they will get to see a new man in the home dugout.
But who exactly will be replacing the Frenchman? Ever since the announcement was made 10am April 20, several names have been thrown into contention, some big names, some outside chances. The likes of Brendan Rodgers, Leonardo Jardim and Thomas Tuchel mixed in with names such as Mikel Arteta, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. A true mixed bag of options.
But how do you replace the greatest manager in a club’s history?
Look no further than Manchester United to find out just how difficult a task that is. However, Manchester United were replacing a great who was still at the top of his game. In the last couple seasons, Wenger’s decline has become more and more apparent.
It’s a massive decision, one of the biggest in the club’s history and certainly the biggest this current regime will ever have to make. But they have to get it right. They cannot afford to appoint their own David Moyes, or things could get worse yet for the club.
Through it all, though, former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and current Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri have emerged as the front runners. Both are managers with experience of winning, but one option is still a lot better than the other.
While Enrique did win a treble with Barcelona in 2015 – including beating Allegri’s side in the Champions League final – this was a side that had a thrilling attack of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. To fail with that Barcelona squad would take some doing and the work Enrique has done at other clubs does not suggest that he would fit in nicely in North London.
Instead, Allegri is the perfect option and if Arsenal can secure his services for next season and beyond then they should have exciting times ahead of them. Whether or not they can pull it off is another question entirely.
Allegri has vast experience in squad building
Juventus have just won their seventh league title and fourth domestic double in a row. Allegri has been there for each of those doubles and has an incredible squad that, under his management, will no doubt accomplish the same feat again next season. So, why would he possibly step away from his amazing work now? And why Arsenal?
The only person who can answer that is Allegri himself, but perhaps the reasons as to why he might choose to do this are actually quite straightforward.
At Juventus, Allegri has had to rebuild both the midfield and the attack in his time at the club. In 2015, he lost both Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal and a year later would go on to lose Paul Pogba. Instead of complaining about it and leaving in a fit of rage and frustration like his predecessor, Antonio Conte, Allegri persisted and overhauled the midfield by bringing in Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi. All the while, never losing the spirit of the squad and never losing the form that would see them reach the 2015 Champions League final.
Similarly, up front, Juventus would sell Alvaro Morata and Carlos Tevez – two more players who would play in the final in 2015. Once again, Allegri was able to superbly replace them, signing the Argentine pair of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala while also embedding them quickly into a side that would reach a second Champions League final in 2017.
This experience at squad building is vital for Arsenal. The current group of players at the club is terrible and there is a clear reason why they are so off the pace of the top 5. Despite having the attacking qualities of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil, the squad is severely lacking in almost every other aspect.
Allegri’s most difficult task yet
While Petr Cech was once one of the world’s best, he is now a shadow of his former self and David Ospina inspires absolutely no confidence in believing he can step up to the plate as first choice. Laurent Koscielny’s injury-laden career is coming to an unfortunate end and Shkodran Mustafi has had an absolutely awful season. Hector Bellerin is being linked with a move away from the Emirates and Nacho Monreal is past his best.
A similar case can be made while going through the midfield. Aaron Ramsey is perhaps the only player who will likely be of any use to an incoming manager. Jack Wilshere too inconsistent, too injury prone. No words are needed to describe how poor Granit Xhaka has been. Mo Elneny has had good performances, but is he to the standard needed at Arsenal? And the attacking pair of Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck just haven’t proven themselves to be of any kind of quality.
If Allegri is to come in this Summer, it will be by far his most difficult task yet. But if anyone can rebuild this Arsenal squad, it’s him. Plus, his tactical flexibility and winning mentality make him the best candidate for the Gunners. Allegri may feel he’s achieved all that he can at Juventus. To be the man who put Arsenal back on the map, that would eclipse everything he’s done with the Old Lady and would surely make him one of the best coaches in world football.
Think Allegri will be the next Arsenal boss?
Back him at 888Sport:
Editorial credit: cristiano barni / Shutterstock.com