With the news earlier this month that long-serving Arsenal player and coach Liam Brady will retire at the end of the season, speculation surrounding the future of two Gunners’ legends has ensued.
Both Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira have taken up coaching and or directorial roles at other clubs since retiring from their playing careers.
Bergkamp, 43, is the assistant manager of Dutch giants Ajax, under Frank de Boer whilst Vieira, 36, recently took up the role of football development executive at rivals Manchester City.
Liam Brady was an Arsenal favourite in his playing career – he made 235 appearances in an Arsenal shirt and scored 43 goals from midfield where he was undoubtedly one of the best of his generation. He went on to play in Italy for Juventus and then Inter Milan but has always remained an Arsenal legend.
The club has preferred to keep it’s retired players around in coaching roles – currently Steve Bould has just taken over from the retired assistant manager Pat Rice and with Brady’s role as Head of Youth Development imminently vacant, I would expect Bergkamp to get the nod.
Bergkamp and Arsene Wenger enjoyed a special relationship during the Dutch strikers 11 years at Arsenal – Wenger always regarded him as not only exceptionally talented but also highly intelligent.
Whilst Vieira was certainly a fans' favourite, I wonder whether his position at City will have a bearing on his likelihood of getting a job at Arsenal. It’s also important to note that Vieira is still only 36 and has little or no experience of management yet – something that is certainly a requirement, even at youth level.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assert by belief that, if Dennis Bergkamp takes over as Head of Youth Development from Liam Brady this summer, he will certainly, without a shadow of a doubt be the man that is eventually promoted to take over as Arsenal manager from Arsene Wenger.
The Frenchman is now 63 years of age and, although I wouldn’t put it past him to extend his contract at the Emirates past it’s 2014 expiry, I would expect he’ll be preparing Bergkamp for the position.
I can’t imagine Wenger abandoning the club he has built over the last 17 years – he’ll certainly take on a director’s role upstairs on the board and he’ll be the one who decides on his successor and I’d put money on him choosing Dennis Bergkamp.