There has been a lot of talk about Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira being on a short list to replace Arsene Wenger.
When you look at the other 3 names being heavily linked – Max Allegri, Luis Enrique and Joachim Lowe – the former Arsenal players are clearly inferior in terms of top level experience.
I have a theory that is not as left field as it might seem.
Arsenal are interested in recruiting Mikel Arteta and / or Patrick Vieira to join the coaching set up at the club, with the view of replacing Steve Bould and / or Boro Primorac.
With Wenger leaving, it is hard to see how Primorac remains at the club. He was bought in by Wenger, he is Wenger’s man, he is the assistant manager in all but job title, and will join Arsene wherever he go’s. There is also the potential the Neil Banfield, another bought in by Wenger in 1997, will also move on.
You then have Steve Bould. What does he actually do? Is he actually any good?
Arsenal will look to make a senior appointment. A well established manager who is recognised throughout the world as one of the best managers in the game. They will want to avoid the mistake Manchester United made when appointing David Moyes.
Moyes struggled to attract players to the club in his one and only season. Like it or not, Wenger was a draw at Arsenal. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all mentioned that Arsene Wenger was part of the reason they joined Arsenal.
Picture the situation. You have Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta (at Arsenal) chasing a player. Who is that player least likely to be interested in playing for? Now change Arteta to Allegri, Enrique or Lowe. It will suddenly prick up their ears.
I honestly think Bould will follow Primorac out of the door when the new man comes in, and want Arsenal want is for Enrique, Allegri or Lowe to bring in their own coaching team, but also integrate either Arteta or Vieira as Assistant Manager.
Picture the scene. Luis Enrique is announced as manager. Arteta, a Spaniard who knows Arsenal is his assistant.
Or Max Allegri is the choice, and alongside him is Arsenal’s last great captain – Patrick Vieira. And Vieira spent 6 years playing in Italy.
Both will do the multi-role of coaching players, being the link between the players and manager, translator and ensuring that the new manager understand what it means to be at Arsenal.
At Barcelona, Raul Sanllehi clearly liked to promote from within – or employ former players – as manager.
It was during Sanllehi’s reign that Pep Guardiola promoted from manager of Barcelona B to the full team. His next appointment was Tito Vilanova, who was Guardiola’s assistant manager.
Luis Enrique followed Guardiola into the Barcelona B job. He then spent a year at Roma and Celta Vigo, before rejoining Barcelona.
The only time Sanllehi went away from getting in someone with “Barcelona DNA”, it was a colossal failure. Gerardo Martino managed the club between Vilanova and Enrique.
Ernesto Valverde was his most recent appointment. The Spaniard spent 2 years at Barcelona in the late 80s.
The remit given to Sanllehi when he joined Arsenal would have been “turn us into Barcelona” so it is only natural that he follows the same blueprint that Barcelona used so successfully under his guardianship. Recruiting from within.
He would have assessed those currently at Arsenal, the likes of Steve Bould, and decided that they are not managerial material. That means he needs to look outside, those who are not currently with the club.
The likes of Arteta, Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. The problem is all these names are unproven, and he has not seen them work. So a move for a big name manager seems natural – with Arteta and / or Vieira joining the coaching set up.
It will then be up to one of those two, alongside Per Mertesacker, to continue their development whilst the new manager is in, putting themselves in a position where they are ready to take over in 2 or 3 years time when he stands down.
I can easily see the next 10 years of Arsenal managers being (for example): Allegri/Enrique > Arteta/Vieira > Merteseacker.
And all of this is just idle speculation.