Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's Arsenal fans divided over prospect of Brendan Rodgers taking over from Arsene Wenger

By Gareth Hanna

Local Arsenal supporters are divided over the prospect of Brendan Rodgers succeeding manager Arsene Wenger this summer.

Long-serving boss Wenger announced he will call time on his 22-year tenure at the end of the current season and Carnlough man Rodgers was swiftly installed as the early favourite for the job.

Celtic boss Rodgers is close to securing a second consecutive treble in Scotland but Belfast fan Lee Hurley, who runs the Daily Cannon Arsenal supporters' website, wouldn't exactly be in favour of a move for his compatriot.

"No," he replied, bluntly. "He would not be a good signing at all. It would be hard to find an Arsenal fan who rates him as a manager. He's seen as a joke character, a David Brent character.

"We want a manager who makes a statement - a Luis Enrique or an Allegri. If the board were to appoint Rodgers, the fans would see it as a sign that the club aren't serious about being successful in Europe.

"He doesn't have a bad record but he hasn't had experience of managing in a competitive league over the last couple of seasons.

"The Arsenal board tell us that they want to compete with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Would those clubs appoint Brendan Rodgers?"

However, a County Armagh Arsenal Supporters' Club representative wouldn't be so opposed to the move.

"I wouldn't mind Brendan coming in at all. He nearly won the league at Liverpool. I know Luis Suarez was such a big part of that but Brendan was the man who was inspiring his players and getting them up for that run," he said.

"You could say that Wenger hasn't been in a competitive league in recent seasons but Vieira is managing New York City in the MLS, which is not recognised as a really top level division, and he's favourite for the job.

"Maybe Vieira would be able to come in and inspire the players the way Gennaro Gattuso has been able to do at AC Milan recently."

As for the most likely candidate to take the job, Daily Cannon writer Hurley is tipping current OGC Nice boss Lucien Favre, who is currently rated at 20/1 by Skybet.

"My choice would be Allegri but apparently we've missed that chance," he said. "Last season was the opportunity go for him, now he's indicated that he's happy to see out his contract at Juventus.

"Favre is apparently quite high up on the list and I think he might be the most likely to come in but it's impossible to tell.

"The three heads who will make the decision apparently all want different people and there are so many great contenders. Luis Enrique is also keen from what the rumours are.

"It's said that Thomas Tuchel (former Dortmund boss) is going to PSG and the other problem with him is our new Chief Scout. They worked together at Dortmund and apparently had a bit of a falling out so that could rule him out."

While the County Armagh spokesperson's ideal choice is 16/1 rated Diego Simeone, one thing the pair do agree on is the bittersweet reaction to Wenger's announcement.

"I'm really sad that he's going to be honest," said Hurley.

"It's been hard to watch him this season. It's right for the club, it's right for him and it's right for the fans. Now it's time to remember what he did for the club with the Premier League titles, moving to the new stadium and keeping the club in the Champions League for so long when he didn't have the money to spend."

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