Wenger says farewell to Arsenal fans as Allegri and Enrique are linked
Gunners hope to name new manager before next month’s World Cup
Arsene Wenger will never again sit in the manager’s chair at the Emirates but at least the Gunners sent him off with a fitting performance.
Arsenal’s 5-0 thrashing of Burnley on Sunday ensures that they will finish sixth when the season ends this weekend, a sign of how the club has slipped in stature in recent years. Nonetheless, chivalry and not churlishness was the order of the day as the fans honoured 22 years of service from Wenger.
“At least they think I gave my total commitment to do well,” said Wenger, when asked about the ovation he received from the fans on his lap of honour. “They know that my commitment was genuine total with complete integrity. So I take it as a big compliment.”
Asked if he might one day return to the London stadium and watch a game from the stands, the Frenchman replied: “I would be happy to sit in the North Bank again. You know what the positive of that is? I can shout at the next manager in the North Bank!”
Wenger was also asked for his thoughts on who might succeed him at Arsenal, but that drew a curt response: “I have nothing to do with that. I just think he inherits a team which is much better than people think it is.”
That’s a moot point, given the way Arsenal have folded when it matters this season, in the final of the league cup and in the semi-final of the Europa League. All the same, there have been some encouraging performances in recent weeks from youngsters including Konstantinos Mavropanos, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson, giving supporters cause for optimism.
As to who is likely to replace Wenger, Sky Sports claims its sources at the Emirates have told them that Arsenal “want Massimiliano Allegri or Luis Enrique to be their next manager, but both have concerns about taking the job because of the club’s management structure”.
Last year Arsenal appointed Raul Sanllehi as their head of football relations and Sven Mislintat as their recruitment chief, meaning that whoever replaces Wenger will be obliged to work closely with the pair, perhaps reducing their influence as manager.
Sky Sports claims that Allegri, who has two years left on his contract at Juventus, “is the favourite to succeed Wenger”, but coming up fast on the outside is former Barcelona manager Enrique; who according to the broadcaster, is eager to return to football after taking a year off following his departure from the Nou Camp last summer.
The London Evening Standard echoes Sky Sports claims about Allegri and Enrique, but throws another name into the mix - Carlo Ancelotti.
The former Chelsea manager, who was fired by Bayern Munich in September, has made no secret of his wish to return to the Premier League, but the Arsenal board may be sceptical that a man who turns 59 next month has the requisite energy and innovation to carry out the root-and-branch reforms so desperately required at the Emirates.
According to The Times, Arsenal hope to have the new man appointed before the start of next month’s World Cup. The newspapers adds that “the most likely outcome” for Wenger is a return to France to manage his old club, Monaco.