This morning’s news is full of Patrick Vieira slamming Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
We will ignore the fact that he rates Jose Mourinho as the best manager he played against. The one who influenced him this most. This stinks of Roy Keane rating Brian Clough above Alex Ferguson purely because of bitterness.
What is perhaps more of a discussion is whether he should be at Arsenal on the coaching side, rather than managing some tin pot team in New York?
On paper, many peoples theory is correct. The likes of Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, should all be at the club, coaching. That it is a disgrace that 3 legends are not at the club.
But lets look at it on an individual basis. Tony Adams failed as a coach and a manger. Dennis Bergkamp returned to his boyhood home town club to coach, and Vieira we will come onto later.
No player has a divine right to return to a club to coach. He must first and foremost prove himself to be a decent coach. Being a top player does not automatically make you a top coach.
By all means, if you want, come to the club to do your coaching badges, like Freddie Ljungberg has done. Take some youth sessions whilst doing your badges, and over time, prove yourself. A bit like the way a youngster has to progress from youths to senior team, proving himself at all times, a coach should too.
Steve Bould is another example of this. After retiring, he worked at the club with various youth sides for a few years before progressing through the under-18s and on to assistant manager.
The best manager around at the moment, Pep Guardiola, started off in the Barcelona B set up.
Some players are just not willing to do the work. They expect to join the club from day one, in the first team coaching set up. Or in Sol Campbell’s case, wants a Premier League managerial job without ever having coached, or even taken his coaching badges.
You have to be willing to work for it.
Alternatively, go to another club, like Tony Adams did.
If Arsenal do not have space for you in the current set up, go elsewhere. Go to West Ham. Go to Leyton Orient. Go to Portsmouth. Do a job there. Prove yourself there. Then return to Arsenal when the opportunity arrives.
Now of course, there is another argument that the more club legends the club has around the club, the better influence they have. Well at the club in recent years, Liam Bradt, Pat Rice, Steve Bould, Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg have all got involved in coaching. Add in Robert Pires who is a club ambassador, that is a large group of legends who are in and around the club. It is not like we have no legends walking through London Colney or Hale End on a daily basis.
How many more do we need? I read talk about Adams, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown, Dennis Bergkamp, Gilberto, Patrick Vieira and more. What do you want us to do? Get rid of all the experienced, proven coaches, for a bunch of ex-players with little or no experience, just because they are ex-players?
We would end up with a coaching staff of 30-odd ex players, all contributing very little.
Yes, over at Ajax, a few years ago they scrapped their coaching system and bought in the likes of Bergkamp, Marc OVermars, Jaap Stam, Edwin van der Saar and more, but the Dutch league is very different to England. You can not afford to take that chance in the Premier League.
Look at the Manchester United side of the 2000s, how many of the 1990s legends did Alex Ferguson employ on the payroll – Ince, Hughes, Bruce and more. None.
Now onto specifically Patrick Vieira.
All I see is excuses from him. Moaning.
The comment that screams out to me first is that he “expected” to be asked” to join Arsenal’s coaching set up.
This kind of follows the above thought line about proving yourself. Rather than expecting to be asked. Offer. Tell the club you want to do the badges, coach the under-7s. Do the hard hours. No one in this world should be expected to be asked without either proving themselves first, or showing a willingness to join.
Secondly, let’s look at his career from retiring as a player to coaching.
He retired at the age of 35 on 14th July 2011. The same day, City created the position of “football development executive” and offered it straight to him.
They basically created a job for Vieira to keep him at the club. Reports at the time were that it would be on a similar salary that he was earning at City as a player, approximately £40,000 a week.
The role was an easy one. If City were interested in a player, he would get involved, influencing the player to join the club, a bit like Zinedine Zidane was doing at Real Madrid. An easy role, no coaching involved.
Now of course, at Arsenal, we could have offered him a similar role. But look at that salary. It is crazy. City at the time had no world wide presence. They needed Vieira to try and raise this presence. There was not a similar role available at Arsenal.
Now why did Vieira take this position? Why on retiring was he not straight on the phone to Arsenal, asking to coach the under-7s, taking his coaching abdges, earning a couple of thousand a week.
Because of greed.
He took the easy, well paid job. You can not blame him for doing so. But then he can not blame him for Arsenal not offering him a role.
He walked into a (created) top job with little or no experience.
And then moving forward a few years, he started doing his badges, and became Manchester City’s new reserve team and Elite Development squad manager. If he wanted to be part of the Arsenal set up so much, why, when he decided to go into coaching, did he remain at Arsenal?
And then in 2015, he was in discussion with Newcastle United to become their new manager. He turned them down, and instead became the manager of New York City FC in the MLS. One of Manchester City’s money laundering clubs.
Another easy step sideways there for Vieira. Rather than challenge himself in the Premier League, he takes an easy job in America, where a club with the likes of Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa will not exactly take much coaching.
He will clearly hope to sit out there for a few years, then return to Manchester City as manager. another easy job.
He comes across as a man who enjoys the status quo. The easy life. The easy job. Maybe if he wanted to join Arsenal, he should have come out of his comfort zone, taken a risk, gone for the hard job.
We demand the best players in the world. We should also be demanding the best coaches in the world. None of those who are not coaching at the club have proved that the club were wrong in passing up the opportunity to offer them a job.
In 2014, the club appointed Andries Jonker as the new academy manager. Vieira had been doing a similar job at Manchester City for around a year. So to sum up, let’s take the names off the CV.
Would you rather the club offer the role to a man who has 1 years experience in the position. Or someone who has been coaching and revamping youth set ups for club and country for 25 years, including for the likes of Barcelona and Wolfsburg.
It is no contest. Jonker was the better choice. He was superior than Vieira.
Take sentiment out of your decision making. We want the best.