With The Times reporting that Arsenal have opted against appointing Luis Enrique as their new manager for next season, questions must be asked why the Gunners weren’t better prepared when there were rumours Arsene Wenger would be stepping down.
Manchester United struggled for years after Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down, so Arsenal should be wary before rushing to appoint Wenger’s successor.
The backroom team is in place – Sven Mislintat (Head of Recruitment), Raul Sanllehi (Head of Football Relations), Huss Fahmy (Contract Negotiator) – so now the Londoners need a coach who will take care of the squad.
Arsenal aren’t in the best shape of late. The Gunners are currently sixth in the Premier League table with 57 points from 35 games this season and could be set for a trophyless campaign if they fall short to Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of the Europa League, meaning no Champions League for a second consecutive campaign.
Despite that, there is a lot of potential with an attack boasting Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, so managers will be attracted to the vacancy. In addition to Enrique, Manchester City assistant manager Mikel Arteta and Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers are two coaches on Arsenal’s shortlist, both of whom boast a wealth of Premier League experience.
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri is the bookies’ favourite to be appointed next Arsenal manager, but New York City manager Patrick Vieira is also in the running. With the Gunners already identifying transfer targets and making plans for next season, having a manager lined up as the season comes to a close would be ideal.
Sky Sports report there are contrasting opinions among chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Mislintat and Sanllehi about which manager would be best suited to replacing Wenger.
Gazidis wants Arteta back at the Emirates, having been praised by City manager Pep Guardiola for his work in the development of the players. He said: “My opinion about Mikel is overwhelming. He deserves the best. We are so comfortable working with him. One of the reasons for our success this season is because Mikel is here.”
However, Mislintat has identified Schalke’s Domenico Tedesco and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nageslmann as a potential option. The latter took charge of the relegation-threatened Bundesliga side in February 2016 and kept them up in his first season. Nagelsmann led Hoffenheim to 4th place the following campaign and in the Champions League.
This season, Die Kraichgauer are once again fourth with two games to go and can still finish second in the Bundesliga if results go their way. Their 30-year-old manager had been linked with Bayern Munich but signed a new deal with Hoffenheim last summer, so it’s unlikely Arsenal will convince him to England.
As for Sanllehi, the former Barcelona director wants Enrique to come to the Emirates. His wage demands and transfer kitty demands have reportedly put Arsenal off, however. So, Arsenal aren’t any closer to appointing a manager and it’s unknown what direction they will go in when identifying Wenger’s successor – Premier League experience or European pedigree.