Who next, after Unai Emery? A look at the leading contenders to take over at Arsenalby Scroll Staff
After nearly two decades with Arsene Wenger in charge, the tenure was less than two seasons for Unai Emery. Arsenal are looking for a new manager following the sacking of Emery after just 18 months at the helm.
The 48-year-old Spaniard was fired following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday’s Europa League match, which extended their winless run to seven games — the worst such run since 1992 for the Gunners.
Assistant Freddie Ljungberg has taken over as interim manager with ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo among the early favourites to be named the next full-time boss.
“We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team,” Arsenal said in a statement. “The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required. We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach.”
Here is a look at five of the favourites to step into the hot seat at the Emirates:
Nuno Espirito Santo
For: Nuno Espirito Santo is a former goalkeeper who has impressed in his spell in charge of Wolves. He guided them back to the Premier League in his first season at the helm with a strong contingent of Portuguese players. He kept them up comfortably and they are now into the Europa League knockout stages and enjoying another good domestic campaign.
Against: The 45-year-old has struggled at the previous two high-profile clubs he has managed, Valencia and Porto.
For: If silverware were the only factor, the 52-year-old Italian former Juventus boss would be a shoo-in. Six Serie A titles and two Champions League final appearances is impressive by any standards. He is a free agent after leaving Juventus at the end of last season.
Against: He admits his lack of English is a problem. “I don’t speak English enough yet, but I’m learning,” he said last month. This could be an issue for the Arsenal hierarchy because one of Unai Emery’s problems was his struggle to communicate fluently in English. Also, critics would point out that Allegri garnered his trophies in Italy without strong domestic opposition.
For: The Swede has Arsenal in his blood after being a member of Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” squad in 2003/04. If the 42-year-old former midfielder impresses during his temporary spell in charge he could make a case for himself.
Against: Ljungberg has never managed a senior team and may be associated with the outgoing Emery regime.
For: Mikel Arteta also played under Wenger, from 2011 to 2016. The 37-year-old former midfielder was linked with the Arsenal job when Wenger left the club in 2018 but remained with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. After City retained their Premier League crown last season, he may feel it is his time to step up.
Against: Yet to manage on his own, his inexperience may count against him.
For: Eddie Howe has impressed with Bournemouth. The 42-year-old Englishman has turned them into solid Premier League performers and has had success in developing players such as Callum Wilson and Tyrone Mings, who has since moved to Aston Villa.
Against: Few top clubs have shown willingness to hire English managers in recent years.
(With AFP inputs)