Arsene Wenger: 5 Candidates Who Are as Worthy of the Arsenal Job
Confession time: The title of this article is meant to grab your attention.
Because no one can truly replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, and there is certainly no manager today who could possibly be as worthy of the position that the Frenchman has used to transform the very perception of the club since 1996.
Wenger is the last of the "Old Guard," and his puffy coat can never truly be filled.
But the end is surely relatively close for the 63-year-old. Thus, Arsenal would do well to consider replacements as soon as possible so that a smooth transition of power can be made, as is being done at Old Trafford in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson's departure.
In the unlikely event that Wenger left his position today, here are five men who would be worthy of the position. Some are currently unavailable, but let us nevertheless analyze them in case of any future surprises.
We begin with the lest likely of all the options on this list, but that which would probably fit the best.
Though the team's style has become a bit more stereotypically "English" recently, Arsenal have been known as a sort of "little Barcelona" in recent years because of the swashbuckling passing game they employ.
Pep Guardiola obviously has oodles of experience with this philosophy and the 4-3-3 formation that Arsene Wenger currently uses to implement it, from both his days as a Blaugrana player to the manager of arguably the best team in footballing history.
If Wenger sticks around for a few more years and Guardiola decides to finish his project with Bayern Munich, there are few who would not want to see the Catalan on the touchline at the Emirates Stadium.
Heynckes has said that he will take a break from management next season. Coincidentally, Arsene Wenger's contract expires one year from now.
It's still nearly impossible to envision the German managing Arsenal, though. The Gunners will likely look for a long-term replacement who can maintain the sort of stability that Wenger has throughout his career. Heynckes, who is five years older than the man he would be replacing, certainly could not offer that.
But he would come with a track record of succeeding at the very highest levels of club football with one of the most thoroughly dominant sides in recent memory, if not one of the best ever, statistically.
Winning the treble is certainly no pockmark on one's resume, and Heynckes achieved this remarkable feat with a team that played utterly dominant football. It is no surprise that he is currently being courted by some of the richest and most ambitious clubs in the world.
It all makes so much sense: Young, a proponent of free-flowing football and very experienced on a tight budget, Martinez ticks all of the boxes that one would want in a replacement for Arsene Wenger.
There is only the little snafu that he has only just inked his first deal with Everton. So Wenger would probably have to remain for a few more seasons.
Depending on how Martinez does at a club like Everton, whose profile is exponentially greater than that of Wigan, he would be a ready-made replacement and a very highly desired manager by the time Arsenal would consider him.
There is no evident reason why Wenger would not sanction Martinez as his replacement; after all, the two espouse very similar styles.
Despite talk of better-known replacements, Dragan Stojkovic will most likely be the man brought in to fill Arsene Wenger's shoes.
He's even been publicly endorsed by Le Professeur himself. He told told Serbian paper Vecernje Novosti (h/t ESPN FC), "I would love Stojkovic to be my successor, there are a hundred reasons for that. Our ideas are the same and we both strive for perfect football."
Pretty emphatic praise. And the Yugoslav is a typical Wenger signing: young, without much experience in the upper echelon of the game, relatively unknown and very prone to injury.
Arsenal fans should not complain if Stojkovic is indeed Wenger's successor. Arsene usually does know best, and the last time the Gunners hired a relatively unknown foreigner, it worked out reasonably well.
The perfect replacement.
Though my preferences are as inconsequential as what I'll have for lunch tomorrow, Jurgen Klopp is at the very top of my managerial wishlist for Arsenal, and the club would do well to set their sights on the architect of Borussia Dortmund's meteoric rise.
In 2008, Klopp took over a decidedly mediocre Dortmund side that had finished 13th in the Bundesliga the season before and transformed it into a back-to-back domestic champion that almost captured the Champions League.
Other managers like Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are able to pick clubs where the excruciating work of team-building has already been done and is easy to supplement with endless amounts of money. Klopp built one of the most exciting clubs in the world on a foundation of outstanding young gems.
And he did it with the types of inspirational and motivational gifts that are present in very few football managers. Klopp is truly a unique manager who would be able to lead Arsenal into the post-Wenger era.