The Top Ten ex-Gooners who could become the Arsenal manager

Dan Smith has certainly livened up the boring interlull with his Top Ten lists, and today’s is just as interesting… Read on…

You know you are getting old when players you watched growing up are now becoming managers. Clearly there was a temptation in the summer to keep the Job ‘in house’, to replace Arsene Wenger with someone who has Arsenal in their DNA. It was right to go with our heads and get someone with experience who can deal with this time of transition.

Yet now the likes of Henry and Vieira have a chance to prove that their ex-employers were wrong not to follow their hearts. It does make me more interested In Ligue 1, I have ordered my Henry Monaco shirt lol. For note, the French Arsenal Derby, Viera vs Henry is in December.

Uni Emery is doing a great job so don’t read that this article has me wishing him out. More a fun list to acknowledge Thierry Henry’s first managerial role. If an ex-gunner was going to manager us one day, who would it be? Here a list of 10 gooners who are best placed to come back to us as manager one day.

10- Sol Campbell

I wrote a week ago about Sol’s struggles to get a job since retirement, something he feels is to do with the colour of his skin. He’s had to go all the way to Trinidad and Tobago to get a taste of coaching making the FA’s invite to work with the under 21’s too good to turn down. Gareth Southgate is a classic example of how a career can change when you get your foot inside Football Association’s headquarters. Back then, he had been sacked as Middlesbrough boss. Circumstances made him the right person at the right time and suddenly he was leading his nation into a World Cup. Anyone who’s read the defender’s autobiography will know he’s a complex character. That’s fine being one of many leaders but being in charge of a whole club? He could be too marmite to run Arsenal.

9- Marc Overmars

Like several of their ex stars, Overmars returned home to Ajax, a club renowned for looking after their own. The Flying Dutchmen initially managed in their youth set up, showing interest in coaching before being offered the position of Director of Football. In a strange coincidence he ended up having to sack the man he had such a great understanding with on the pitch, Dennis Bergkamp. If he did work again in London, it’s more likely it be based on a complete change of structure behind the scenes. An Overmars/Bergkamp dream team?

8 – Dennis Bergkamp

Ajax are rivalled by only Bayern Munich for wanting to keep ex-players involved in the club. Up till last Christmas, our former striker was coaching the club’s academy. Imagine being a kid and being educated by someone with that man’s footballing brain. Arsene Wenger eventually was open to letting his ex-players coach with him and surely would have accepted the input from one of the greatest talents he’s ever worked with. What could prove a handicap to any dreams of being in the dugout is his well-known fear of flying. As a player, Arsenal could compromise and put provisions in place. In 2018 though, the moment you lost in Europe, the ready-made excuse would be, their boss wasn’t on the plane with them.

7- Steve Bould

In one of his biggest mistakes, Arsene Wenger seemed uncomfortable keeping ex-players around as a sound board or to help the next generation. That policy changed slightly when Bould was promoted up to assistant manager upon Pat Rice’s retirement. I say slightly as observers have often doubted how much input he’s been allowed to have. It’s hard to think that someone part of our famous back four would be coaching some of the worst defensive performances witnessed over the years. He’s either not been given the freedom on the training field or struggles to get his message across. It’s common when a new boss comes in, he likes to keep an employee of the previous regime who knows the traditions of the club. So, if Unai Emery had a crisis, Bould is in position to take temporary charge. That’s the only reason he’s on this list.

6- Robert Pires

Our of respect and love for what he did for us, Robert Pires was given a job at Arsenal, with his ex-manager letting him choose his role. He would work with the youngsters on a part time basis, while also being an ambassador for the club. He would balance this with various grassroot charities before making his work at the Emirates a full-time gig. Like Ajax and Bayern, we are the type of family club who would be tempted to keep the Gunners post in house, as evidenced by nearly choosing Arteta over Emery. If Pires was serious about his development I believe Unai would find him a specific post, like an underage group.

5- Arteta

Clearly divides our board’s opinions. The rumours are saying that preferring Unai Emery over our ex captain was a last-minute decision, with Arteta believing he was dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s over a deal. This was based on being Pep Guardiola’s right-hand man, as that’s the only experience he has in terms of coaching. He’s earned a reputation in his two years at Man City which is why he topped our shortlist for so long. Obviously, the more experience he gets, the more others will want to take a gamble. History will tell us if we were correct to view this as too early for him to be a manager. If the criteria though is being a gooner, then there are greater legends who would capture fans imaginations.

4- Van Bronckhorst

It was strange that in the summer ex-players were linked with Arsene Wenger’s job to keep the role ‘in house’, a former gunner with more experience wasn’t getting a mention. Indeed, Van Bronckhorst has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s great young managers by ending Feyenoord’s 18-year title drought. He started his career with the Dutch side, won a Premiership and two FA cups with us before playing for Barcelona. That’s not including appearing for a country renowned for playing the right way. In other words, he would have the same ethos as us.
Not an Arsenal legend though in terms of dreaming to come back to North London

3- Freddie Ljungberg

Worked with our under 15’s in 2015 before a 6-month spell as assistant manager at Wolfsburg. He returned to Arsenal in the summer as head coach of our under 23’s and is already making waves for how he’s got the youngsters playing. Like Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery wants all age groups playing the same way. Having featured for the most successful side in our history, the Swede knows all about free-flowing football. Again, in terms of keeping things ‘in house ‘ this is a smart role to have taken. Zidane got the Real Madrid post based on years of developing the next gems so why not Freddie?

2- Patrick Vieira

When gooners heard that Arsenal were considering ex-players to replace Arsene Wenger, many saw romances in rehiring our former skipper. In fact, some reports suggest that Vieira was unhappy about the indecisiveness of our recruitment process, making him feel undervalued. At Manchester City, there were whispers that while they wouldn’t stand in Arteta’s way, they were reluctant to lose the Frenchmen from their American project. The champions had invested years in preparing Vieira as their future gaffer, with a spell in the MLS an apprenticeship of sorts. It’s hard to believe though that a club backed by a country won’t always just throw millions at getting the sexiest name available, so the World Cup winner has chosen Nice as his next challenge.
Success in Ligue 1 could see an Arsenal – City bidding war

1- Henry

Call me a romantic but I long dreamed of the greatest player in our history returning to end our title drought.
The man himself, unlike a Viera, hasn’t been shy in admitting we offer the ‘dream job’. Of course, the fact that he has a statue outside the Emirates doesn’t guarantee anything. There are numerous examples of legends who hurt their legacy by coming back as managers. What Henry has demonstrated working with young gunners and as number 2 to the Belgians is a likability factor. The likes of Roy Keane have struggled to cope with individuals not as skilful or motivated as him. As one of the all-time best at what he did, Henry accepts it and brings a calm approach. A sulky striker, even when he scored, Henry wants the game to be about fun. It seems unfair that the odds of a Lampard, Gerrard, Vieira and now Henry being managers in a decade could be decided on picking their first job correctly. History shows, pick a dodgy owner, have bad luck, etc, you will be back on the pundits’ chair permanently. I hope Henry gets Monaco right and my dream will become a reality.

Who would you choose?

Dan Smith


  1. kev says:

    I just came here to say that Fabregas is the best Spaniard to ever play for us.The guy was so so good.I’ve never felt the same about any other Arsenal midfielder when he was on the ball.It felt like he could doeverything;shoot,pass,dribble, create chances and leadership.The guy was all in one.Season after season Arsenal had to fight off top European clubs just to keep him at the club.I don’t know if it’s because he left Arsenal hence people are in denial of him being the best Spaniard but as a person who hardly hypes up players I can say with 100% confidence that he is easily the best Spaniard to play for Arsenal and no other midfielder has made me feel like watching the heart of Arsenal play.There was something about him which I can’t describe.Any time he was on the pitch it was different.Under Fabregas our passing game was more fluid and we created so many chances because he usually always splits the opposition’s defence.Please if you’ve forgotten about him go back and watch what I mean.Just like the same way I know most football fans will agree with me when I say Messi is better than Ronaldo I know most Arsenal fans even though some hate him will agree with me that Fabregas is the best the ever Sapaniard to ever play for Arsenal.Till today we still miss the “Arsenal Fabregas”.

    1. gotanidea says:

      I beg to differ, for me it is Monreal and Bellerin, because they gave us three FA Cups

      1. jon fox says:

        Bellerin eh? Well you and I are poles apart in most views. Not merely football opinions, like Bellerin either, after your recent post claiming all Gooners are racists. I will never forget that mass accusation you chose to make.

        1. Break-on-through says:

          Can I ask you a question Jon, or anyone else I’d be interested to hear your response.

          Right. You’ve just been sentenced to two years in prison, you’re innocent, but you got sent down anyway. Guard walks you to the cells, eight cells. Four on the right and four on the left. Three men in every cell and room for a fourth. All the cells on the left have white people in them, and all the cells on the right have black people in them. Guard shouts at you to get into a cell and be quick about it. Q – What side does your first instinct choose? and do you go with it?

          If I’m annoying anyone by asking this I don’t mean to, so no offence intended.

          1. jon fox says:

            After this latest nonsense, my previous post applies all the more. I would say planets apart is more accurate than mere poles apart. You are though clearly literate and educated, but the way you think is very disturbing. It is outside the bounds of normalcy to describe ALL Gooners as racists and this latest nonsense just shows how you simply cannot accept that decent, fully evolved people, as most of us are on here, believe that there is only one race. The HUMAN race! Until you find within you the ability to open your mind and reject your OWN clear racial predudice, as posed in this revealing question you ask, you are doomed to remain in this “us and them” world. That world only exists in faulty minds. Please , for you own future peace of mind, do seriously consider and reflect on the comments I make here. I wish you no harm but I hate to see otherwise educated folk suffer for faulty and narrow minded thinking.

          2. jon fox says:

            I must apologise to you , because I have addressed the above post, stupidly, to the wrong person in you, You are NOT the one who described us all as racists. That was “got an idea”on a previous thread(the one about our ex players being future Arsenal managers). I do however stand by the comments I made about the distinctly disturbing thinking in YOUR post above.It is, to evolved people a hypothetical and yet revealing and disturbing question . At least to those of us who see in humanity only ONE race. Were I you, I would seriously reflect upon the thinking that made you pose this question.

          3. Break-on-through says:

            Its a simple question if you have an active enough imagination. No hate like you seem to see it. People are pattern seeking, we recognize patterns, we go with familiarity. If given the choice whether people are aware of it or not, they will go with what’s most familiar if in a stressful environment. Prison is a stressful experience I’m sure even you could stretch to imagine. Why do view the choice so distasteful, someone who sees only one race should see no problem with either option. Racism is a very strong word, its hate pure and simple. I don’t believe that is what Gotanidea was intending to mean. I think he was speaking more at a basic level, under certain conditions or by small actions a persons race can be a deciding factor.

      2. Lanert says:

        Gotanidea, you got me laughing in spanish with your comment. Heeheehaahaaha!!

  2. Uzi Ozil says:

    Well said Kev. Fabregas was one midfielder I enjoyed watching. He has all the attributes you mentioned but his shooting and dribbling Are slightly above average. His major strength is PASSing…. And I mean some extra ordinary pass from only rare players.

    He scored some crucial goals that’ season we reached the champions league finals. He scored against Juventus and AC Milan I think
    Too bad we couldn’t lift the champions league trophy that year losing to Barça in the final in a game I thought we had chances but couldn’t take them. Henry would have wrapped things up in that game then Alumina didn’t help matters.

    1. gotanidea says:

      I saw his long passes to the attackers on his YouTube highlights (from @Gooster). Even though his long passes are great ideas, some of them are half-baked and too difficult to be converted by the attackers:

      His inconsistency made him unable to succeed Iniesta/ Xavi at Barcelona. Even though Fabregas is a very good player, I prefer a no 10 that can consistently create well-crafted short through balls like Iniesta:

    2. Lanert says:

      The UCL night was such a regretable one for the gooners. Almunia spoilt the UCL final night. He derives pleasure causing havoc in between the sticks, worst goalkeeper ever.

  3. gotanidea says:

    Arteta, because he has been learning from the bests in the game, Wenger and Guardiola

  4. optimist habila says:

    I was one of many Arsenal fans who wanted an ex-Arsenal star be given the managerial role when after Wenger resigned. I still think that it’s high time Arsenal did what barca, R/Madrid, AC Milan, Ajax, etc. have been doing. After Unai I expect to see Thiery henry take charge, having moved to Monaco. The experience they said he hasn’t got they won’t talk about it then.

  5. Sue says:

    I know he’s not on the list & I know this will never happen, but a girl can dream right?! Ian Wright for me…. with Petit & Podolski as assistants ??????

    Now the list… Henry for me all day long! One day the King will come back……..

    1. Phil says:

      Sue you little minx?So funny

  6. Innit says:

    This is honestly the last thing I’m thinking about these days. I am excited about Emery and would love him to be a successful manager for us.

    He has impressed me so far. 9 wins in a row.
    I think his only obstacle to winning us trophies will be Kroenke and lack of money.

  7. Sue says:

    OT…… I saw Sokratis was subbed last night, but it’s now saying he has an ankle injury??? Oh Christ ☹

  8. jon fox says:

    LISTS ARE FINE IN THEIR WAY AND OF INTEREST TO MANY, I DON’T DOUBT. But to me I just think how few ex-great players of ANY top club, ever go back to be a great manager at that club . Very few statistically. I realise emotion is a factor and I am no different in that respect from anyone else and I would love to fantisise – because fantisise is what it is – that one day Thierry or Patrick might come back and PROVE A GREAT ARSENAL MANAGER. AND THEY MIGHT. BUT SHEER WEIGHT OF HISTORICAL EVIDENCE ACROSS ALL TOP CLUBS SHOWS THIS IS VERY UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN. Examine our own history. Of all our managers ever, only one ex player, who was far from a great player, though certainly useful, managed us to real success and that is GEORGE GRAHAM. TERRY NEIL WON ONE CUP, DON HOWE NOTHING. Bertie Mee and Tom Whittaker, both club physios( or trainers as they were then called) both had success but neither were our players, though I believe Tom played a very few games as a youth for us before being badly injured and retiring very young.
    Chapman played, but for Spurs, among others. Wenger never played at a serious level anywhere. That doesn’t amount to much from ex -players and there is not a single Arsenal great player who managed us. And this applies everywhere. The reason is that management and playing are totally different skills. I agree that to have been around football when of playing age is nearly always an advantage, but to have been a GREAT player is not more of a managerial advantage than being, say, a Wenger level player. We must therefore separate fantasy and desire from the actual likelihood of any great ever being a great manager at the club. And yes, I know there are exceptions , like Zidane, Deschamps, Dalglish and others. But set against the vast majority of great players who fail utterly to manager at a decent level, IT IS VERY UNLIKELY. Being a great player can often have the managerial disadvantage of when a manager cannot understand why lesser players simply cannot do what he personally found so easy when playing. THIS IS FAIRLY COMMON , BY COMPARISON. Being always a realist in all things football , I lay out these comments for your consideration.

    1. dan says:

      Jon fox
      U should help me with list of players who flopped as managers
      Adams , merson, Platt,etc

      1. jon fox says:

        Sorry DAN. I am not one for lists. At least not top ten best/ worst type lists, though I do value stats and use them in my betting. Though they have to be RELEVANT stats, not merely best passing percent, which is largely meaningless. I was though too hard on you before and it is clear that most DO like lists, so I am definitely in the minority. You will know as well as anyone that hundreds of top players flop as managers; it is a totally separate skill from playing. Your own three listed make a good start. MERSE MUST BE AMONG THE WORST EVER TO MANAGE, totally unsuitable type. I prefer looking forward or to at least right now than visiting the distant past, though many will love your lists, so keep posting and lets stay friends. In any case DAN, people now look to you for top lists and you are well able to do it without my interference.

        1. ozziegunner says:

          jon, you would have to agree that although Don Howe didn’t win anything, he was a great coach who left a great legacy with up and coming young defendrrs.

  9. RichSAAlao says:

    I don’t support Henry at all, even for free.
    For me, he has done enough things while he was here and after,to erase all his status at Arsenal. THE Club owe him nothing!

    1. jon fox says:

      A troll in our site. Warning! Ignore him and don’t rise to his immature bait. He is clearly still at junior school and won’t even remember Henry. Peppa Pig is more his style!

    2. Dan says:

      Peeps giving Wenger stick,I just getting head round but now king Henry?????

  10. Break-on-through says:

    Henry wasn’t a sulky striker, that was Anelka aka Le Sulk. Unless you meant to say silky, but I don’t think you did. Henry played with a serious demeanor but he’d look happy often enough. He’d pose a fair bit but it made for a great statue.

    Henry, Vieira, & maybe Arteta are the only serious candidates in that list. If you can call them that, a long, long way to go before we see the fruits of their labour.

  11. Midkemma says:

    Do we have european football?
    If not then Bergkamp could be a dark horse… as soon as we get into europe though we would need someone who would fly 😛

    I would like to see Wrighty as a coach, the passion he has would be amazing to have around the kids and 1st team.

    Manager would be TH14 with Vieira as assistant and the reserves manager, get them working closely to develop players and bring them through…

    Imagine the effort they could demand from the prospects, such legends and not one of them was shy at working hard for the team.

    All a fantasy though as I got no idea how well TH14 will do as a manager and Vieira kinda has the upper hand with experience currently… but heart says TH14 as manager! XD

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