The Arsene Wenger farewell tour is well underway. A defensive mishap fittingly ruined what could have been a brilliant European night, followed by a touching – if somehow controversial – tribute from his two greatest rivals, Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.
The timing of Wenger’s announcement, although apparently out of his hands, was ideal in many ways. Instead of an abrupt departure, the Frenchman can enjoy the adulation of the Gunner faithful once again, while receiving deserved praise from his peers.
It might, too, provide a distraction as Arsenal search for a replacement. Plenty think they already had their man when Wenger said he was leaving, but many reports are bubbling up that they are still in talks with half of the managerial world.
There were murmurings last summer that Max Allegri was in line to replace Arsene Wenger. They never came to fruition, of course, as Wenger signed yet another contract. Allegri is on course to lead Juventus to yet another Scudetto this season, but saw the Old Lady fall short in the Champions League again.
His style of play is obviously different to Wenger’s. Quick transitions are crucial, which could make for some scintillating football with Mesut Ozil feeding Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It would be interesting to see what shape Allegri would opt for given the imbalance of the Arsenal squad.
Allegri remains the favourite at 11/4. There is still a possibility he remains in Turin, however. He really isn’t good value at that price, even with the long-term links to the job, simply for the chance that he sticks with the Italian giants.
Luis Enrique is linked with every high-profile job around the world at the moment. The talk of becoming Chelsea boss seems to be more frequent than Arsenal rumours, but that doesn’t stop the Spaniard sitting second in this market at 7/2.
That price is okay. Enrique’s links to Chelsea make him a hard man to back right now, though the fit seems a little better at the Emirates than Stamford Bridge. The footballing world will be watching keenly wherever he goes to see if he can replicate his Barcelona success without the cheat code that is Lionel Messi.
Enrique won relentlessly during his Barcelona spell, including a treble in his first season. If trophies are Arsenal’s priority right now – and I’m not sure they are – then you can’t get a much better CV than this guy.
Okay, so this one will split opinion. Brendan Rodgers has maintained Celtic’s dominance in Scotland. Whether you think that’s relevant or not is up to you, but there’s no doubt he will make an Arsenal side that entertains.
Rodgers also – in case anyone has forgotten – nearly won the league with a not very good Liverpool team. That side played thrilling football, in part because their defence was as shaky as their attack was brilliant. Arsenal fans at least won’t be bored with Rodgers, though they may be left watching many of the same mistakes from the latter Wenger years.
The 13/2 price is not a great one, though. If Arsenal go for a big name, Rodgers is out of it, and if they opt for a less experienced candidate, Rodgers has some strong competition.
Strong competition, you say? Well, here’s one of those guys. Patrick Vieira has been impressing people with his work in New York, and any job at Manchester City is a long way off. There will have at least been discussions at the Emirates about what Vieira has been doing stateside.
Vieira’s brand of football fits with Arsenal, and his appointment would surely win some of the fans back on board. It is a risk, sure, but so is any managerial change. This one might just have enormous reward, particularly if his MLS stint is anything to go by.
The former club captain is out at 12/1 to succeed his once manager. It’s a longshot option, but I like that value. He would be a very Arsenal appointment.
Another less-experienced, high-profile option, Eddie Howe, arrives just longer than Vieira at 14/1. The Bournemouth manager has been a stalwart of the Arsenal gossip columns in recent years and remains linked with the Gunners’ job.
Howe is in the mid-table waiting room for someone to take a chance on him. The David Moyes disaster at Old Trafford might put clubs off such a move, but they are different managers, and markedly different characters.
I like the price on Howe better than almost any other in this market. He has shown an ability to bounceback from difficult periods – which a lot of current managers lack – while maintain an identity. He could win over the Arsenal board.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*