Liverpool, Arsenal… Five managerial options for the strugglers

Twelve games into the Premier League season and there has not been a single sacking among the managers of any of the 20 top-flight clubs.

Given that Sunderland’s Paolo Di Canio was booted out as early as September last year and the duo of Roberto Di Matteo and Mark Hughes had already been handed their P45s by Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers respectively by November the season before that, it certainly seems as if we’re overdue a managerial casualty this campaign.

Whilst sack race speculation has been rife, with talk of some high-profile departures at the league’s biggest clubs, getting rid of an underperforming manager is ultimately pointless if a replacement hasn’t been identified. Bearing this in mind, here are five gaffers that the Premier League’s strugglers may wish to target should they decide to give their current crop the chop…

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1. Jurgen Klopp (Arsenal)

Jurgen Klopp Arsenal

After the euphoric relief of clinching their first major trophy in nine years last season with their FA Cup triumph, the mood at Arsenal has taken a turn for the worse this campaign. The Gunners have stuttered in the league and have not looked too impressive in Europe either, which has led many Arsenal fans to believe that long-serving manager Arsene Wenger should have gone out on a high by leaving the club at the end of last season.

The North London club have been accused of stagnating under the Frenchman, who may have taken his beloved side as far as he possibly can. A new method and a fresh lease of life is clearly needed, and Jurgen Klopp – currently of Borussia Dortmund – would be the ideal manager to instigate this.

Not only has the German tasted success with Dortmund – having led them to two Bundesliga titles, not to mention a Champions League final in 2013 – but his lively, enthusiastic approach to the game, his preference for slick, attacking football and his reputation for nurturing young, homegrown players make him an ideal fit for the Gunners.

2. Diego Simeone (Liverpool)

Simeone

Brendan Rodgers is on the brink at Liverpool. His side has been woeful this season, with the defence producing calamitous display after calamitous display and the attack proving to be useless at adapting to life without Luis Suarez. Unless the Reds boss can turn things around very quickly, his time at Anfield will soon be over.

Should the Merseyside club part ways with the Irishman, they could do much worse than to elect Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone as their new man. The Argentinian led Los Indios to La Liga glory last season – a phenomenal achievement given the financial dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona – and they also came agonisingly close to lifting the Champions League for the first time in their history, losing to city rivals Real in the final. Simeone has gained much praise for how disciplined and organised his Atletico side is, especially in defence.

They conceded just 26 league goals last season – the fewest in La Liga – compared to Liverpool’s 50 in the Premier League. The Reds are crying out for a manager who can bring back a degree of solidity to their backline; they need look no further than Simeone.

3. Marcelo Bielsa (Manchester City)

Sergio Aguero may be single-handedly keeping Manuel Pellegrini in his job at Manchester City for the time being, but if last year’s league champions continue to struggle as they have done so far, City’s notoriously impatient owners will not hesitate to sack the Chilean.

Marcelo Bielsa would be a fascinating choice for the Citizens – known as El Loco for his meticulous attention to detail, his sides are famed for being ultra attacking and highly exciting to watch. Bielsa likes to utilise wing-backs in advanced positions, which would suit City’s forward-thinking duo of Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta, and the fact that the 59 year-old is Argentinian suggests that he will be able to get the best out of his compatriot Aguero in attack.

Currently managing Marseille in Ligue 1, Bielsa would relish the opportunity to manage a club of City’s size, although his lack of silverware in Europe could count against him. More can be found on the method in Bielsa’s madness here.

4. Frank de Boer (Aston Villa)

De Boer

Despite a hugely promising start in which they won three and drew one of their opening four games – including an excellent away victory at Liverpool – Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa have since picked up just two points in the league, conforming to their pre-season tag as possible relegation candidates.

Villa fans have not had much to cheer about since Lambert was appointed manager in 2012, and patience is wearing thin; they have scored just six league goals all season – the fewest in the league – and have not recorded a victory since their win at Anfield in early September.

Ajax’s Frank de Boer may be an ambitious option, but let us not forget that Villa are historically one of England’s biggest football clubs; Villa Park is the sixth-largest stadium in the Premier League, and the Birmingham side also won the European Cup in 1982.

Indeed, there are many similarities to be drawn between Ajax and Villa: both tasted great success in the past but have faded in recent times, both place great emphasis on developing homegrown players, and both have been forced to cope with selling their brightest talents. De Boer has made no secret of his desire to manage in England one day; at Aston Villa, a club that shares much in common with Ajax, the 44 year-old could make the transition from Dutch football a seamless one.

5. Glen Hoddle (QPR)

Glenn Hoddle

A slightly controversial option, this; Hoddle is currently first-team coach at QPR under Harry Redknapp, and has found it difficult to get back into management after his dismissal for making some pretty tastless comments during his time as England manager in the late 1990s.

Nevertheless, Hoddle continues to be regarded as one of England’s most tactically astute and progressive coaches, and if the Rs continue to flounder under Redknapp, he would surely jump at the opportunity to return as the main man in the dugout.

One gets the feeling that Hoddle has something of a point to prove; his hunger to succeed after so many years in the wilderness could be what the Loftus Road outfit need to survive relegation from the Premier League.

 


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