Arsenal Round Table Discussion: Emery’s possible replacements

I am one of the more worried Arsenal fans out there. I mean I wanted Wenger out and backed the arrival of Emery, I looked at his appointment as a shrewd one. All the talk of his prowess with video analysis and the late nights interested me because I think under Wenger, we were consistently under prepared. And I was drawn in by the work Emery would allegedly put in away from the training ground.

When his tenure started and I am talking after the two losses to Manchester City and Chelsea, it was exciting and thrilling football. We managed to outscore the opposition, remember that twenty-two unbeaten run where we just seemed to know how to win. And even when the run was ended, we still managed to be a decent football team until the end of season implosion, the hangover has been carried into the new season despite some good summer signings.

The football club is in trouble, the manager is confused, the players sometimes don’t give enough and most times they look more confused than the coach does, the defending is getting worse if its even possible to get a stinking defence worse.

The form my club in is unacceptable to say the least and it has led to many fans losing trust in the overseer of the project and they want him gone. I believe this team is loaded with talent to easily make the top four, but it has underperformed, and it must stop. So, enter the topic of sacking the manager which became intensified when our neighbours sacked their manager who we can all agree is better than Emery. The manager must go, Arsenal don’t want to be Manchester United and change mangers at every turn, but it must be said Emery is not the man he was last season and Arsenal could be 14th by Christmas.
I have an opinion on how I think Arsenal should proceed in terms of hiring a new manager, but at 5am this morning I sent messages to some of my good friends who happen to be Arsenal fans. I asked the following questions:

(a) Of the free agent managers out there who would suit Arsenal best and why?
(b) Of the employed manages out there who would suit Arsenal best and why?

Join me as I unpack their responses,

@rolandtonym’s response

Free Agent Options:
I would go for Brendan Rodgers. The Irishman has made a great start to the season with Leicester City, who currently sit third in the league and six points above Arsenal after 11 games. I can bet no-one could see this coming but I have always liked Brendan.

Rodgers also does have managerial experience at big clubs, having nearly won the Premier League during his time at Liverpool and presiding over a successful winning spell while at Celtic.

My apologies I didn’t realise you said “Free Agent” lol. However if you are going to force my hand, I would gamble on Viera. I think he understands the fundamentals of having a strong backbone in-order to be competitive. He was a captain too for Arsenal and that contributes a lot in the dressing room. I believe sometimes you need to talk to players, on a player-to-player level. The lingo is different in comparison to a coach-to-player level.IMO.

Employed Options:
Julian Nagelsmann. Tactical, young, resilient and he moves with times of football science. Nagelsmann has taken the use of technology in training even further. As well as using drones to film his squad’s movement, he had a giant videowall installed on the halfway line of their main training pitch. Besides that, he has definitely made Leipzig a better side. I would pick him for a long term project.

@ristonashe’s response

Free Agent Options:
I would go for Mauricio Pochettino. The man wants his sides to play proper footie, even at Southampton he always managed to keep the opposition honest and they played beautiful football. At Spurs he showed that it was his way of playing the game despite the success he made Spurs one of the better sides in Europe.
I think Massimo Allegri would be a close second and only because he has been around and knows what it takes to build a winning team. He is not afraid of a challenge, and he is a winner and that is something our group of players need.

Employed Options:
With regards to those employed already I would say we should absolutely try for Joachim Loew because His style of play is very similar to that of Arsene Wenger. He is also a long-term project kind of manager and Arsenal needs a lot of work and only a man who can stomach a rebuild and stay in one location for an extended period suits us. He has also built a winning team, and I think he can do that again, with all the respect he has in the game players will flock to him.

Another who deserves a look is Thomas Tuchel because he has worked well with fast passing teams and players in a relentless attacking football style. We lack this bite out front and it is a need. Julian Nagelsmann would also make sense, has built good teams with average players and has managed to be competitive in any competition his team is involved in.

Carlo Ancelotti, the man has seventeen trophies across four leagues, enough said.

@Chatikoboti’s response

For me it’s quite simple we need an experienced head in the dressing room. Someone who can carry the team in the rough times and coach them to achieve their goals.

Free Agent Options:
I want to see someone like Laurent Robert Blanc, appointed to coach Arsenal. I like that he would be a mature managerial appointment who has sampled some of the world’s biggest managerial assignments, the French national team and Paris Saint Germain. He has the right kind of temperament to steady the ship and make the club excel.

Employed Options:
This is an easy one, Rafael Benítez Maudes. The Premier League experience he possesses is second to very few, he has managed to get success at every club he has coached in the league. He is a proper gaffer, gets to work with what he has rarely complains and gambles his way to success. This could be a shrewd appointment by Raul and company.

@gblackys’ response

It saddens me that my first choice for the Arsenal job has been taken, I only wanted Jose Mourinho at Arsenal. During Wenger’s time we always looked soft, especially in critical phases in the game. With Wenger the youth all got going and I thought this will breathe new life into our team, but we are regressing. Individually we have the talent and depth to push for CL football but we’re looking like a below average team, we’re soft and boring at the same time which is hard to do even for relegation threatened sides. I’ve watched beautiful football under Wenger already now I need results, a coach who can get the best out of our players and change all this softness culture within our squad and Jose would have remedied that. Jose was the best man for the job.

Free Agent Options:
Pochettino and Allegri always look like easy choices but I’m not a fan of either of the two.

Employed Options:
I would take Patrick Viera ahead of them to be honest. This would be more of a gamble honestly; he has done nothing tangible yet in terms of his career, but I would pick him because we have the right squad and was is lacking is confidence. Look at Lampard, confidence is key.

@bzharare’s response

For me it’s simple, we must not look at any of the free agent options on the market. We should look to active former Arsenal players; the reason being bringing in these high-profile types will make it hard for us to cut ties with them when the time do so comes around.

Free Agent Options:
None of them.

Employed Options:
My first choice would be a former Arsenal player who has played a key role in the backroom of one of Europe’s biggest managers. He is helping to over see some huge wins and lengthy win streaks with one of the most talented squads on the continent. Did I mention that he had three clubs rushing for his signature upon announcing that he would retire? Mikel Arteta is the best option for Arsenal going forward.

The second choice is an Arsenal man through and through. Patrick Viera would be an amazing option; he is a third-year coach who has coached for two years in the MLS and had a very promising debut season at O.G. Nice. In his first season in charge he led the club to seventh place in Ligue 1, one place better than they achieved the season prior to his arrival. He has had a tough start to the current campaign, and it is more on the quality of players he has than his coaching ability.

Philani’s response

I responded to my questions, its only fair that I do so too.

Free Agent Options:
The first option for me would be Mauricio Pochettino simply put he is one manager that will make sure the gulf in class between Arsenal and the other top six managers on the touchline is not huge. We need to make sure the next man up doesn’t turn into a punching bag for the other managers.

Employed Options:
Nuno Espirito Santo, Arsenal lacks defensive discipline from the front to the back. We always look vulnerable from the moment we lose the ball; we could be in the opposition’s final third or in front of our own box. There is just a panic that engulfs the players which leads to easy goals being conceded, for example the two goals we conceded to Aston Villa. The players almost seem to have a bewitching mixture of fear and confusion when it comes to defending. Nuno Espirito Santo would rectify this. He is a battle-hardened brute who has earned a lot of respect in the league by playing his way every time and getting the job done. His side has an amazing defensive work ethic, but what I love the most about him is every new player has complete buy in and look like they have been there for years in a couple of months.
Rafa Benitez, I think Premier League experience should be key in our next appointment. Many new managers can start off great but maintaining that consistency is the tricky part and I think an old Premier League head can steady the ship with consistency. I wanted Rafa Benitez to replace Wenger and now would be a good chance for him to land another big job.

Antonio Conte, I admire this manager so much. To adapt the way, he did and turned around a poor start to a title winning season is commendable. Maybe it’s the solid defence that I am attracted to. The backbone that his players displayed in the run in However, we have never had an Italian manager at Arsenal and Conte is among the top Italian managers out there. Four Italians have won the title in the last decade, just to show that they are not only about defending.

My take

Arsenal might not have the cherry pickings of the elite coaches as it stands, but there are numerous tier two coaches who can come into the club and make an impact. The trick is to find someone who can come in and sort out that bruised and battered defensive unit. When that is done the new manager must instil a game winning mentality that has been lacking in squad over the majority of the past decade. We have all seen Arsenal falter time and again when the going gets tough, and I think outside the atrocious defending Unai Emery has failed to make the necessary shift in mentality to foster success.

We can call a sizeable percentage of the coaches out there would be overjoyed at the opportunity to manage Arsenal, the project is interesting enough and the talent on the books should be a good pull factor as well. The only thing that needs to be decided is how much damage will Emery allowed to make and of course this may ward off some interest.

Philani Mukwakwami


Sports are a hobby horse of mine, what happens in-between the lines is just as thrilling as what happens outside of them.