THE BLOG

Who Could Replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

27/03/2014 17:20 GMT | Updated 27/05/2014 10:59 BST

"Arsene Wenger will not be a difficult act to follow - he will be an impossible act to follow."

Those are the words of former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, who spoke to Sportsweek earlier this week. He could well be right.

For all the discussion of the Frenchman's future after his side's 6-0 evisceration at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, realistic alternatives to the 64-year-old are relatively scarce.

Borussia Dortmund's swashbuckling coach Jurgen Klopp has been widely mooted, while an impressive first season at Goodison Park has gained Everton's Roberto Martinez several admirers.

Pep Guardiola and Brendan Rodgers, breaking records and dispelling scepticism at Bayern Munich and Liverpool respectively, would both be excellent fits given their commitment to passing football. Unfortunately, neither are likely to even listen to coquettish sweet talk emanating from North London.

Arsenal fans are understandably frustrated. Eight years without silverware is unacceptable for a club of such prestige and that most dreaded of words in a short-term environment: 'potential'.

But a glance towards Old Trafford should act as a warning.

David Moyes has, by all accounts, struggled to cope with the task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson. A squad that won the Premier League by 11 points last season is now in seventh place, nervously glancing at Newcastle United and Southampton behind him.

Moyes' struggles stem from an ideological breakdown. There is no obvious tactical direction. Wayne Rooney and David de Gea have been excellent, but the Scot's major acquisitions Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata have been desperately disappointing thus far. £65m not so shrewdly spent.

Hostility directed towards Ferguson is laughable. Either it is the fault of the players, or that of Moyes. If the squad is good enough to win a Premier League title, it is good enough to finish in the Champions League positions the following season at the very least.

Moyes, seen as a proto-Ferguson, is languishing in waters out of his depth. If Wenger does leave, then his replacement must offer something he cannot.

Klopp can brandish two Bundesliga titles since 2011 and a Champions League runners-up medal as proof of his credentials. Players such as Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus and Shinji Kagawa have sparkled under his leadership. Where Moyes has been reticent, Klopp would be forthright and unflinching.

Martinez, whose Wigan Athletic side won the FA Cup and suffered relegation to the Championship last season, certainly deserves consideration. His articulacy, composure and principled approach are to be commended, and his first season on Merseyside has been an unqualified success. Nonetheless, a job of this magnitude may come a little too soon for the Spaniard.

It will take a brave man to replace Wenger. For a club with attacking, attractive football sewn into its DNA, pragmatism would not go down well.

Rodgers has shown it is possible to smoothly accelerate through a 'transition period'. He has stayed true to his footballing philosophy, ruthlessly dispensing with anybody whose face does not fit - Andy Carroll being a prime example - and instilling his ideas into a young and creative squad. They now lie second in the Premier League, set for a shot at a first ever Premier League title in just his second year in charge.

Wenger's replacement must adopt the same attitude. They are unlikely to share Le Professeur's bewildering stubbornness in the transfer market: a striker to challenge Olivier Giroud is desperately needed, while the midfield has been crying out for a Patrick Vieira-esque figure since the Frenchman departed for Juventus in 2005.

But Arsenal fans must ask themselves: who do they want to see replace Wenger? What will they give the club that Wenger cannot? And, crucially, how patient are they prepared to be?

The Gunners will most likely win the FA Cup this season, a not inconsiderable feat given they have faced Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool on their route to the semi-finals. Ending the trophy drought would represent a step towards forgiveness for last weekend's debacle; a near-certain top-four finish will see Champions League football in North London once again.

Wenger may have taken Arsenal as far as he can, but any replacement has a Herculean task ahead of him.

Proud legacies are never easy to follow. Just ask David Moyes.