Thought needs to be put into what an Arsene Wenger AD era would look like

While an Arsenal departure is not imminent, the future remains unclear

Arsene Wenger, Ronaldo Koeman, Arsenal, Southampton

Wenger and Koeman Picture by: Chris Ison / PA Archive/Press Association Images

If tonight's proposed fan protest goes ahead at the Emirates, could it prove to be the start of a game-changer for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?

There are suggestions that some fans could walk out of tonight's Premier League home match against West Bromwich, with the 75th minute of the game chosen to do so.

Whether it goes ahead and also carries significant numbers is yet to be determined but certainly over the years, dissenting voices among the Arsenal fanbase has grown from murmurs to background noise over the past few years as title challenges falter.

But as ex-Chelsea and Everton winger Pat Nevin said on Off The Ball this week, you almost have to be careful what you wish for, with Manchester United's post-Alex Ferguson years filled with many a low point as the try to recapture past glories.

Significantly, there has rarely been talk about who comes after Wenger at Arsenal, which makes it especially dangerous to make a move.

No standout successor is appearing on the horizon to take the reins. Pep Guardiola perhaps may have been a perfect fit from the coaching end of things as Kenny Cunningham suggested last month: "I think Guardiola was the man to be the ideal fit for Arsenal. I think when it became obvious he wasn't staying at Bayern Munich, that's the man Arsenal should have been pushing for and I think even Wenger should have been knocking on Ivan Gazidis' door and say 'look, I think you can get Guardiola to this football club, I'll step aside and allow this man to come in.'"

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (right) sits in the stands with assistant Steve Bould (left) and scout Gilles Grimandi during the Emirates Cup match at The Emirates Stadium, London. Picture by: Andrew Matthews / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Some of the base principles that Wenger espouses are also shared by Pep, namely an emphasis on controlling play. But off the field, the club would have to mould their structure around a manager who has worked with sporting directors at Barcelona and Bayern, whereas Wenger has been far more hands-on as one of the last great dictatorial (which is not meant as a negative) managers.

It's all a moot point of course, given that Guardiola is off to Manchester City.

There are no former Arsenal players clamouring for the management role either that truly jump out.

Patrick Vieira is only making his first steps at New York City FC, while Wenger's assistant Steve Bould may have led the club to Academy Premier League titles, but has never managed at the highest level.

Indeed, the current odds with some bookmakers have Southampton boss Ronald Koeman as the current favourite, ahead of the likes of Joachim Loew, Roberto Mancini and the Ajax manager-assistant pair of Frank de Boer and club legend Dennis Bergkamp. Manuel Pellegrini is another name mentioned at times once he leaves City this summer.

Why Inter boss Mancini is even in the conversation is mystifying, while World Cup-winning Germany boss Loew would also present a risk (granted Wenger was one when he was appointed in 1996) as his last club management role was all the way back in 2004 with FK Austria Wien.

The Dutch trio of Koeman, De Boer and Bergkamp would present interesting options, given that the former duo are experienced at Premier League and Eredivisie level respectively.

But a combination of one of the two along with Bergkamp could perhaps allow for a sense of replacing Wenger with two personalities rather than one, given that the Arsenal manager of 20 years standing is irreplaceable in the direct sense, even if the time to step aside is approaching.

Throwing out prospective names is all well and good but Arsenal's hierarchy will be need to take heed that they are not just replacing a man, but more than likely a figure who has morphed into the structure.