Roberto Martinez and 15 Managers Who Could Replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal
Arsenal's 3-0 defeat to Everton at the weekend left the Gunners in real danger of not qualifying for next season's Champions League, with the Toffees still having a game in hand and right on their tails in the league table.
Take a look around social media sites and a repetitive view was being aired by Arsenal fans: Arsene Wenger's time is up.
An FA Cup final—assuming they get there—would be the best way for Wenger to go out at the top, perhaps, but who could take his place?
Here are 15 managers who might be in the frame to take the reigns at the Emirates, beginning with the man who masterminded Arsenal's latest defeat.
Roberto Martinez has only been in place at Everton for nine months but has won plenty of admirers for his team's positive football, his own mentality and a string of good results which have taken the Blues to the verge of a top-four finish.
The positives behind such an appointment are clear to see.
On the other hand, Martinez showed several times at Wigan Athletic that he won't move just for the sake of it; a project and a team has to be right for him. There is no guarantee he would jump ship from Everton so soon after joining.
Staying in the Premier League, Southampton's Mauricio Pochettino has similarly been an impressive appointment with his brand of pressing and possession-based football.
Saints haven't flown as highly in the top flight as Everton have, but then they also had a lower starting point and a manager with far more experience in England than Pochettino.
He's attack-minded, has shown considerable impressive tactical acumen and there remains uncertainty about his long-term future with Nicola Cortese having left the club.
Downsides to the appointment would be his relative lack of experience still, having only managed Espanyol and Southampton so far, and perhaps there remain questions over his choice of signings; the most impressive Southampton players under his guidance are those who were already present before he arrived.
Michael Laudrup was sacked as Swansea City manager earlier in the season and, at present, remains without a club.
The Danish tactician might have left the Welsh club after a disappointing start to the season, with his team only a few points above the relegation zone at the time, but it was only a few months previous to that when he was lauded for Swansea's attack-minded play, for winning a trophy and bringing more of a cutting edge to his team's play.
There was talk of a move to Real Madrid and the like—but his sacking has quietened all such rumours. Would a move for him now be the best moment possible, with Laudrup needing to prove himself in a bigger way?
Moving abroad now, Vincenzo Montella has been a standout candidate in Italy with Fiorentina.
His side are attack-minded and play attractive football, and he looks set to have a good career, though he is only in his third full season as a senior head coach.
As for the negatives...bar a short stint with Fulham, Montella spent his entire playing career in Italy and undoubtedly knows that league best. It may be that he sees his coaching career being played out in the same nation, at least while he continues to learn his trade.
There is little doubt that Diego Simeone has shown himself to be one of the top young managers in world football during his stay at Atletico Madrid.
The 43-year-old has won domestic and European trophies over the past couple of seasons, and this year has Atleti in the fight for a La Liga title and a Champions League semi-final spot.
Would he end that kind of challenge to move to Arsenal? Would Arsenal be able to tempt him if other positions elsewhere became available? Could he replicate his success outside of La Liga? All valid questions but none more difficult than looking at managers from other nations.
Philippe Montanier hasn't had a hugely successful season as manager at Rennes, though he has taken them slightly higher than last season's 13th-placed finish so far.
However, he did exceptionally well to guide Real Sociedad to a top-four finish in Spain last season, giving them Champions League football for 2013-14, before returning to his native France.
Montanier must be considered a bit of an "out-there" suggestion as he cannot compete with title winners, big names or giant reputations, but his Sociedad side were extremely slick on the counter, very offensive and looked like they might be starting to put a side together to offer sustained success.
The angry man of German football, Jurgen Klopp has won many admirers for his fearless, attacking Borussia Dortmund side.
Winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles was a phenomenal achievement, as was reaching the Champions League final last term, but Bayern Munich's resurgence—and BVB's injury issues this season—means Dortmund are firmly seated as the second side in Germany for now.
That might be enough to tempt Klopp into leaving sooner or later, though he has shown no desire to depart. Like with many overseas head coaches, there will be an issue of whether their transfer dealings might be up to scratch, with Wenger typically involved in signing new personnel for Arsenal to a far greater extent than Klopp would be.
Jens Keller had only amassed a dozen or so games experience as manager before taking over at Schalke 04, but he has performed admirably so far, securing a top-four finish last term and looking likely to improve on that this season.
His year-and-a-half in the job might not be enough for some Arsenal fans who want proven talent to come in and do the job at their club, but Keller has worked with some exciting young talents and given them a good grounding in the game at an attacking side.
One of those, of course, being prime Arsenal transfer target Julian Draxler.
Frank De Boer
Frank de Boer has won three league titles in a row in Holland with Ajax, and with his team six points clear at present, he looks good value to make it four next month.
He has previously been targeted by clubs in the Premier League, stating he had a project at Ajax that he wished to see through. Domestically, that project is presumably finished—but Ajax face difficulties in making further headway in Europe.
Maybe now is the right time for de Boer to be tempted away from the Eredivisie and test himself in a more competitive domestic environment.
One of the main criticisms of Wenger this season appears to be his lack of manipulation of his team tactically, especially in-game management and approaching games to adapt to the opposition.
In that regard, there are few managers who might eclipse the talents of Rafael Benitez, currently at Napoli in Serie A. Although he has not managed to mount a title challenge, he has likely secured Champions League football again—that's a trophy for Arsenal, remember.
Belgian national team manager Marc Wilmots might not be the most obvious choice, but he is working well with a talented group of players and will be hopeful of making an impact at the World Cup in summer.
Of course, national bosses often tend to want to return to club duty after major tournaments are over—especially if a big club comes calling.
Downsides? Minimal experience with club football, no track record of big signings and not having spent a particularly long period in the same job so far.
Of course, if Arsenal are going to attempt to appoint any national team manager, then the best candidate might be Germany's Jogi Low.
Famed for his aggressive team playing fast, offensive football, Low has been in the Germany job for eight years now and could feasibly believe that this team is at its pinnacle now—he needs to get them performing at their peak in Brazil if they are to have success on the world stage as a result.
Low will be a huge capture for whichever club eventually persuades him to leave the international stage.
Luciano Spalletti has had success in Italy with Udinese and Roma, and in Russia with Zenit St. Petersburg, but is now without a club after being sacked from Zenit earlier in 2014.
His teams have traditionally been fast, powerful and explosive sides, while relying on hard work and solidity in the middle. His general base formation is not entirely dissimilar to Wenger's own 4-2-3-1, though perhaps with more direct wide forwards in his own sides while the Arsenal manager has preferred technical, creative options in the main.
Out of contract and in need of a new challenge, Spalletti would likely be easy enough to lure to replace Wenger over the summer.
Luis Enrique is viewed as an outstanding young coach in the game with a big future. He was initially a youth coach at Barcelona, also coaching the B side, before moving to Roma in 12-13 and Celta Vigo this season.
Celta avoided relegation on the final week last term; this season Luis Enrique has them in 13th place, not safe entirely yet but certainly far more comfortable than they were a year ago.
Naturally, he favours a technical, possession-based game and is tipped for a big impact once he lands a big job. Whoever takes that first risk of appointing him could end up with a very ambitious and most capable manager.
Dennis Bergkamp is an Arsenal legend and a name most fans would love to have associated with the club again, though he has yet to take sole charge of any team and initially did not believe he would take up coaching roles in the game.
However, he has moved up through the youth ranks of Ajax's club as coach and has been Frank de Boer's assistant for the first team for three years now.
Would he relish the challenge of restoring the side for which he played for 11 seasons to the top of English football? More than likely, yes. Is he ready for such a challenge? It's impossible to know, but much of what Bergkamp achieved on the field seemed improbable.
If he's just as good off it, it might be a dream move for all involved.
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