Three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup wins; Arsene Wenger may have become a figure of fun for football fans (sorry, all non-Arsenal supporters) in recent years, but his accomplishments in the English game should not be forgotten.
This was the manager who came from Japan, unknown to all in football on these shores, and revolutionised the beautiful game with his attention to detail and introduction of sports science; a no-brainer these days. He also oversaw the ‘Invincibles’, that incredible Arsenal side of 2003/04 that went the whole campaign unbeaten; a feat we are unlikely to ever see achieved again.
Wenger’s stint of 22 years at Arsenal – bettered only by that of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United – is also unlikely to be matched again, and for all his failings the Frenchman will long be remembered as a pioneer in the Premier League age.
So he leaves some big shoes to fill at the Emirates Stadium, and after announcing his decision to leave the club on Friday the bookmakers have already scrambled to reveal the men most likely to take the helm of the Gunners.
Here is where the smart money is going:
Patrick Vieira (11/2)
Arsenal fans of a certain age will have fond memories of Patrick Vieira, who was a member of that Invincibles squad and, for a time at least, was a midfielder of balletic poise and ruthless aggression who dominated the middle of the park for a good few years.
The Frenchman has since moved into management, although a CV containing Manchester City Reserves and New York City is hardly the most glittering on the Gunners’ shortlist. He has, at least, done a decent job with NYC, guiding them to their first-ever play-offs and securing the record for the most improved win ratio in consecutive seasons.
But the drafting system in the US means that Vieira, still, has yet to manage a transfer budget, and that will be a concern given that the Arsenal job is one of the most highly-pressurised and scrutinised in world football.
Arguably most important of all though is the fact he will bring a sense of good feeling to the club. Vieira is an Arsenal legend, first and foremost, and you would think that the vast majority of supporters would get behind him. Given all the animosity that has surrounded Wenger’s reign in recent years, that might be enough to get him a interview at the very least.
Thomas Tuchel (6/1)
It has been widely reported that the German manager has agreed a deal to take over as PSG manager in the summer.
As such, we’re not quite sure why the former Borussia Dortmund head coach is so highly fancied by the bookmakers!
Joachim Low (8/1)
This summer, Low will oversee Germany’s attempts to retain their World Cup crown in Russia.
If that doesn’t go well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is out of a job after the Germans’ relative failure at Euro 2016, where they bowed out in the semi-finals.
The 58-year-old hasn’t managed a club side since 2003-04, when he was at the helm of Austria Vienna. Indeed, a club CV that features Fenerbahce, Karslruher, Adanaspor and Tirol Innsbruck won’t set the hearts of Arsenal fans racing.
That said, Low is believed to be highly thought of by Arsenal’s hierarchy, and ESPN reported last month that he would be top of their shortlist should Wenger step down.
Brendan Rodgers (8/1)
The Celtic boss is as short as 3/1 with some bookmakers, so Arsenal fans can be afraid, very afraid.
In fairness to Brendan Rodgers, he did a stellar job at Liverpool; nearly ending their Premier League title hoodoo with an inspired front three of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling.
It’s hard to really gauge his work at Celtic – our nans could lead the Hoops to SPL glory, but Rodgers is highly rated by many in the game.
The Juventus boss sparked a frenzy when he said he will look to move abroad when his time at the Italian club comes to an end.
Allegri told The Telegraph that ‘….certainly I will go abroad. In Italy, finished.’
That has piqued the interest of both Arsenal and Chelsea given the Italian’s fine record at the helm of Juve.
He has guided them to three consecutive domestic trebles, looks likely to add a fourth Serie A title to his collection in the coming weeks, and was minutes from knocking Real Madrid out of the Champions League.
When will Allegri leave Juventus? That is the million dollar question.