What a difference 67 days make, after the incredible developments of the last few days the England national team once again finds itself without a permanent manager at the helm. The FA have to begin their search to find the next man to take charge of the Three Lions, and although Gareth Southgate has been trusted with the task for the next four matches, the question now is who will be the next man in the England hot seat?
Southgate now has, in effect, a four-match job interview which will finish in November when England face Spain in an international friendly. By then you would imagine that the FA will have made that all important decision as to whether Southgate gets the job full time or whether or not they decide to give the position to someone else.
And that someone else could be none other than current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Before the appointment of Allardyce, Football Association Chairman Greg Clarke made no secret of his desire to try and tempt Wenger away from the Emirates Stadium and into the realm of international football, but the Frenchman, with still a year left to run on his contract, was not prepared to walk away early. Yet, if you were to ask the 66-year-old the same question at the end of the season then the answer may have changed.
In terms of the runners and riders for the England job, not much has changed from June when Roy Hodgson’s tenure ended after that embarrassing defeat to Iceland at EURO 2016. It’s still the same half dozen or so names who will once again be in the frame, and if truth be told it isn’t an inspiring list. Alan Pardew and Steve Bruce haven’t got the most glittering of CV’s when it comes to top level management, after all.
But if you were to add a name like Wenger’s to the list of candidates then it’s not unfair to say that the three-time Premier League winner would go straight to the top of the pile. Of course, there are a number of mitigating circumstances and the most obvious one would be whether or not the former Monaco manager would actually want to take the job, but it could almost be the perfect time for him to bow out from Arsenal and try his hand at winning a major international trophy.
International football management has long been the pursuit of the elder statesmen of the game and after being in charge of Arsenal through the breakneck pace of the Premier League for 20 years it would make perfect sense to take up an opportunity such as being England manager.
Wenger will have a job at Arsenal for life, should he want it, and even if he really did want the England job then you could quite easily envisage him, in a sense, taking a sabbatical from the London club to return as a Director of Football, later on. Dare I say it, he could even combine that with England duties due to not having the need of managing from week-to-week.
This is a man who knows English football inside out and if you look past what some may consider a stumbling block of him being non-English then he is without question the perfect candidate for the role. Southgate is quite capable of keeping the seat warm until June.
Let’s not forget that Southgate himself said he wasn’t ready to take the job when Roy Hodgson quit, but whether that mindset has changed remains to be seen.
Arsenal fans will now have a keen eye on the contract developments of Wenger over the next few months, as the longer he goes without signing the likelier a move to international management may become. Maybe this May really will be the end of an era for the Gunners and a start of a new one for England.
As we’ve seen a lot can happen in football in just the space of a day, even more, can happen over the space of a few months. Will Arsene say ‘au revoir’ to Arsenal and ‘bonjour’ to Wembley? Only time will tell.