Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal has been a success story from the first season he took over, winning the league and FA Cup double at the first time of asking and leading his team to a record-breaking unbeaten season in the 2002/03 league campaign.
But since they beat Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup final, their trophy drought and the constant stream of outgoing players at Arsenal has had people asking some serious questions about Wenger and his policies. If Arsene Wenger is not the man to lead Arsenal into the future, who is? Here are some possible replacements should the Gallic philosopher ever hang up his management boots…
This German manager of Borussia Dortmund had a somewhat unremarkable playing career at FSV Mainz 05 where he spent most of his time before taking over as manager in 2001 and earning them promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time since 1963.
Despite being relegated with Mainz in the 2006/07 season, Klopp kept his job for one more season in the second division before resigning after failing to promote his team for a second time.
Borussia Dortmund put their faith in Klopp, bringing him to replace Thomas Doll and his appointment has paid off. In his first season at Dortmund, Klopp beat Bayern Munich in the DFB-Super cup, the equivalent of the English Community Shield, and marked a steady improvement to the team, taking the team from 13th the previous season to a respectable 6th.
The upward curve continued when Dortmund finished 5th in the 09/10 season before running away with the Bundesliga title last season.
Klopp took a side that was in financial peril and dangerously close to bankruptcy in 2005, to the pinnacle of German football in just three seasons, as well as reinstating their position in the Champions League.
Arsenal fans may already be familiar with Klopp and his Dortmund side who clinched a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw in their opening game of the Champions League this season.
Klopp is a young exciting manager who plays attractive football that the Emirates faithful would be accustomed to seeing and has a keen interest in tactics, with his championship winning side pressing and reducing space of the opposition and getting the most out of their squad.
Klopp is familiar with the courtship of English sides after reportedly being the number one target of Liverpool’s new owners, after they lost faith in Roy Hodgson, before ultimately appointing Kenny Dalglish.
Dortmund currently lie 6th in the Bundesliga table and a high profile job like the one at Arsenal could tempt Klopp away from the Westfalenstadion.
The Everton boss is currently the third longest serving manager in the Premier League behind Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger himself. On a shoestring budget that would make even Wenger look like a big spender, Moyes has outperformed any reasonable expectation for a club in Everton’s position.
Last season, flip-flopping between his side’s ability to win the league and make fourth place, Harry Redknapp claimed Spurs’ didn’t spend enough money to be in the top four alongside the likes of United and City, but just six years earlier Moyes guided Everton to fourth position in the league and a chance to qualify for the Champions League.
Unfortunately for Everton, they were drawn against a Villarreal team on top of their form that beat them 4-2 on aggregate. Villarreal went on to make it the semi-final and losing to Arsenal 2-1, but not before topping a group that included Manchester United.
Moyes has kept Everton’s expectations high, despite his club’s extremely poor financial position and the constant stream of their most valuable players leaving the team. Moyes has overseen the big money departure of Wayne Rooney, Thomas Gravesen, Joleon Lescott and Mikel Arteta amongst others and continues to get the most out of his squad.
While his fellow county man Owen Coyle has seen his stock fall slightly after a poor 2011 with Bolton, Moyes reputation goes from strength to strength while his style is harder to pin down than the likes of Wenger and Coyle his teams usually has the right mix of ability and aggression. It is unclear how Moyes would do at a much bigger club like Arsenal but he has been a revelation at Everton and there is only so much longer that a cash-strapped club like the Toffees can hold on to a manager with such potential.
The Dutch maestro was last seen in England delivering an FA Cup to Chelsea against Moyes’ Everton in the final after he was brought in as caretaker manager to steady the ship at Stamford Bridge following the sacking of Big Phil Scolari.
His credentials as a manager are without question, with a trophy list longer than most. Hiddink has both the ability to bring a big team success; winning six league titles with PSV Eindhoven as well as the European Cup, and the ability to guide a small team to punch well above its weight; when he took South Korea to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup and Australia to the knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup, only to be beaten by a late penalty to eventual winners Italy.
He is currently the manager of Turkey but his lucrative contract with them runs out in 2012 and there will be countless offers for his services once he is available again.
Chelsea apparently tried to re-sign him before getting in Andres Villas-Boas and if the players at Stamford Bridge, who have a reputation of being a rebellious dressing room with a lot player power, like Hiddink, the 64 year old must be doing something right.
Current France team manager Laurent Blanc has his hands full with the international team after trying to bring some credibility and composure to the side that, after getting past Ireland in the playoffs with a hand from Thierry Henry, made a complete embarrassment of themselves in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
Divisions in the dressing rooms, players being sent home, supposed player strikes were all something Blanc had to try and find harmony after, and the former Manchester United defender has finally done so with his side’s recent qualification for Euro2012 in Poland/Ukraine.
Blanc’s first season in management saw him bring Bordeaux to second place in the French league before winning the title in 08/09 season, breaking Lyon’s seven year stranglehold on the competition and picking up Bordeaux’s first league trophy for ten years.
His experience with rebuilding a team like Bordeaux and the calming of the tumultuous waters of the French national side may leave him in good stead for the Arsenal job but his prospects as potential Gunner’s boss still hangs in the balance of his teams’ performance in Euro2012.
No list would be complete without an Englishman been linked with the job and I think The Stoke City manager can put in as much of a claim as any other English manager in the league.
His side have fared a lot better against big teams this season than Arsenal have. Stoke have played Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool in the opening games of the season and have picked up five points against them, conceding just once and beating Liverpool, albeit all at home. Arsenal have played United, Liverpool and Tottenham so far this season and, but playing United and Spurs away from home, have picked up no points against them, conceded 12 and scored three times.
Pulis has secured promotion for Stoke and cemented their place as a Premier League side, while making some shrewd signings and making their home ground a fortress even for the big boys to play at, with some people even suggesting that the likes of Barcelona would have a tough time on a cold Tuesday night at the Britannia.
Arsenal could do a lot worse than appoint Tony Pulis but it remains to be seen how well fans would take to seeing a long ball punted up to Theo Walcott to try and control.