Following the sacking of Unai Emery last Friday, Arsenal’s four-strong recruitment committee has prepared a list of12 candidates for the role of head coach. Interviews have started and it is hoped an announcement will be made before the end of the year. In the meantime, ex-Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg has been appointed interim manager, following his successful stint as the Gunner’s Under-23 coach from June 2018 and then his integration into the first team’s coaching unit from June this year.
With much managerial change in the Premier League (aka heads-a-rolling left, right and centre), there is an active betting market on who will be Emery’s successor. Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League this season, and the best hope now is to qualify for next season via success in the Europa League. The team is now lying ninth in the Premier League Table, with only 19 points so far this season. The new manager will have to address the challenges of under-performing players, and the lack of a consistent playing style.
Names thrown into the ring at this stage include Freddie Ljungberg, Massimiliano Allegri, Mikel Arteta, Brendan Rogers, Marcelino Garcia Toral and Mauricio Pochettino. Freddie Lungberg is current favourite with the bookies, with BetVictor offering odds of 4/1 that he will be appointed next Arsenal Manager. But the 42-year old is relatively inexperienced as a manger, and although recruiting a former star player can work (Frank Lampard at Chelsea is doing a sterling job despite a recent 3-match lull) it’s not a golden ticket to success, as Manchester United is appreciating with the lacklustre performance of its first team under former ManU star, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Massimiliano Allegri is also a strong contender for the post, having left Juventus at the end of last season. However, the 52-year old Italian has poor English (notably, Emery also struggled with his language skills, which won’t have helped his cause), and when he was interviewed previously for the Arsenal role he was reportedly found wanting in terms of his attitude and his desire to move nine of his coaching team into roles at Arsenal. Betfair offers odds of 5/1 that Allegri will be the next Arsenal Manager.
Mikel Arteta may be looking at the Arsenal vacancy with interest. Currently, the 37-year old Spaniard is assistant coach at Manchester City, but he played as a midfielder for Arsenal when he was in his pomp, and it is thought City manager Pep Guardiola would not prevent him leaving to return to the Gunners. William Hill has odds of 11/2 that Arteta will be the next Arsenal Manager.
Brendan Rodgers is another name thrown into the ring but, although Paddy Power offers odds of 10/1 on his appointment, the Leicester manager has discounted the possibility of moving to Arsenal, saying “Yeah, the message is clear and it has been and probably I’ll get asked again until they appoint someone but it’s very simple. I’m very happy here.” The 46-year old from Northern Ireland has a contract with Leicester until 2022 and he has taken Leicester to second equal (on 32 points, the same as Manchester City) in the Premier League, some eight points behind leaders Liverpool. With new training facilities, projected development of the King Power Stadium and the full support of the board, Brendan Rodgers clearly feels that he would need a major incentive to move on from Leicester.
Spaniard Marcelino Garcia Toral is also in the mix for the job of Arsenal manager. The 54-year old former midfielder has worked extensively in La Liga for many years, moving to Valencia in 2017. He was sacked in September – due to differences with the board, particularly relating to the removal of Mateo Musacchio from the club captaincy – and appears to be a free agent on the hunt for another job. Could he be recruited to Arsenal? It is a possibility and bookmaker BetVictor offers odds of 14/1 that he will be the next manager for the Gunners.
Identical odds of 14/1 are available, this time from Paddy Power, if punters wish to bet on Mauricio Pochettino being made Arsenal manager. Tottenham Hotspur sacked the Argentinian manager on the 19th of November, when Spurs were languishing at fourteenth in the Premier League. After an impressive five years at Tottenham Hotspur, Pochettino has a great reputation and the 47-year old has recently acknowledged that “There are lots of clubs and attractive projects for me to take on.” Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Arsenal are all being talked about as potential destinations for Pochettino but we would question whether Arsenal would be a good fit for him, given the intense rivalry between Spurs and the Gunners.