Next Arsenal Manager Betting: Will it be Arteta, Ljungberg, or Allegri?
Alex Keble looks at the top five contenders in the betting to replace Unai Emery as Arsenal manager and tips a former player to take the reins...
The speed with which Arsenal dismissed Unai Emery following Thursday night's 2-1 defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt tells us the board's anger was more at themselves than at the manager. Hindsight is 2020, but it did seem obvious at the time that Arsenal should have removed Emery after the abysmal performance against Southampton. By not acting they missed out on the chance to guarantee a Europa League knockout spot last night.
Arsenal had, in fact, hoped for an upturn in results over the next few weeks and had no plans to pull the trigger, according to well sourced newspaper reports, but Thursday's result left them on their longest winless run (seven) since 1992.
Consequently the next manager market is difficult to predict, since none of the groundwork is in place for a seamless transition.
Not that the Gunners necessarily need to act quickly. Interim manager Freddie Ljungberg is a decent candidate for a start, having impressed since being promoted over the summer, but more importantly Arsenal are only one point off fifth - the position most would agree is par for the club.
The final nail in the coffin for the board was the number of empty seats on Thursday. The next boss, then, needs to look like an ambitious, and optimistic, choice.
Here are the top five candidate
s in the betting at the time of writing, and a wild card, to replace Emery:
Max Allegri (11/10) could see this as best option
The only high-profile manager currently out of work is ex-Juventus coach Maximiliano Allegri, who won five consecutive league titles at Juventus. He has long been linked with a move to the Premier League, reportedly learning English for some time and waiting for the right opportunity in this country, and indeed with Mauricio Pochettino now on the market Allegri might look at Arsenal as the highest he can aim.
Allegri would certainly be a departure from Emery's (attempted) attractive football and a decisive final pivot away from the philosophy of Arsene Wenger, but we are reaching a point where many associated with the club would like nothing more than a disciplinarian and organiser through the door to sort this team out. Much of the early money on the Betfair market has sided with Allegri.
Freddie Ljungberg - (6/1) would get the fans on-side
Already in charge, and therefore likely to enjoy the post-Emery bounce as players are psychologically freed by an end to the crisis, the 'Solskjaer effect' should help Ljungberg make an impressive start - especially with Norwich, Brighton, and West Ham their next three Premier League games.
Ljungberg's style of play with Arsenal's under-23s has been compared to Pep Guardiola's, which is often a lazy shorthand for any kind of 'passing it about a bit'. Nevertheless it means Freddie will go for something aesthetic, marking him out from some of the more counter-attacking candidates, and potentially quickly endearing him to a fan base already on his side.
Given the toxic atmosphere at the Emirates recently, thanks largely to a poor relationship between Emery and supporters, the affection for Ljungberg could certainly work in his favour. Three wins from three easy league games and the job could well be his.
Nuno Esperito Santo (4/1): Stability may appeal to Arsenal board
Two days ago the BBC reported that Wolves manager Santo is a 'strong contender' for the Arsenal job, and while Santo denied to respond to speculation he would surely be interested in the step up. Wolves, who finished seventh last season in their first year back in the top flight, are currently fifth in the Premier League and one point above Arsenal.
It will impress the Gunners' board that Santo has managed to juggle Europa League and Premier League so well. Furthermore, if Emery's spell at the club has left a particularly sour taste then it could work in Santo's favour that he is the polar opposite; after all that tactical anxiety, all that chopping and changing, Santo will pick one formation and one starting 11 - and stick with it.
Mikel Arteta (6/1) a strong runner - if City job not already confirmed
But Santo isn't particularly inspiring, especially not when one of their former players is currently viewed through rose-tinted spectacles as the next Guardiola. Mikel Arteta is highly regarded by the current Man City manager but is, of course, entirely untested. It is understood Arteta is looking for his first foray into management, and having applied for the Arsenal job in 2018 will be happy to speak to the board again.
The only road block is insider information he might have about Guardiola's long-term prospects at City. If the Catalan has plans to leave, Arteta will probably wait it out and - as the chosen one - take the reins at City for next season.
Arteta is popular with the fans, wants to play attractive football, and is very well respected within the industry. Should Ljungberg get off to a decent start then an Arteta-Ljungberg double act would start to look very attractive indeed.
Mauricio Pochettino (8/1) a non-starter
Pochettino has consistently said that he could not manage Barcelona or Arsenal out of respect for the clubs closest to his heart, and yet the rumours of a sensational switch across North London persist - but only because it's such an irresistible story.
The move makes no sense whatsoever. Pochettino's stock is higher than any other unemployed manager in the world; he can take his pick of the Man Utd, Bayern Munich, and PSG jobs next summer, so why would he walk into such a difficult environment at the Emirates? This one's a non-starter.
Erik ten Hag - (25/1) an interesting outsider
He's already said he wouldn't leave Ajax mid-season after being linked with Bayern, but anyone would say that at the rumour stage. Ten Hag has done a brilliant job at Ajax and certainly post-Wenger Arsenal would have looked at his playing style, promotion of youth, and emerging status in the game and strongly considered him for the job.
An offer made concrete, could the 49-year-old really turn it down? Then again, Ajax's brilliant unbeaten start to the league season has put them six points clear at the top of the Eredivisie and on the verge of a place in the last 16 of the Champions League. Another good run in Europe and he can leapfrog Arsenal-level jobs for the very top ones. We did say it was a wild card option.