If you haven’t seen The Deuce, I highly recommend it. The American drama, set in 1970s New York, focuses on prostitution and the eventual legalisation of porn in the city – and although James Franco is in it, thankfully he doesn’t play one of his familiar frat boy roles. I liken our beloved Arsenal to its rather exotic heroine, Candy.
Candy’s looks – once bodacious; now ill-favoured – have seen her confined to working the Premier League’s darker alleys, yearning for a sniff of the continental luxury she once took for granted. Slowly fading into the city’s orifices, she’s come to a juncture in her life.
Does she undergo a light makeover and ply the backstreets in the same old manner, or does she transform herself, via copious plastic surgery, into something new, vibrant, and, dare I say it, sexy. It’s worth a ponder as she pricks at a sweaty-palmed Ivan Gazidis voodoo doll in a grubby New York motel room.
At first, it seemed we were littered with lower-risk light makeover options and so we pursued these familiar souteneurs with a proven ability to rule. Was it the familiar curls of Ancelotti and Allegri, or lack thereof in the case of Monaco’s Jardim, we craved? It seemed when Arsene’s departure was announced, we shook our money-maker at the roadside but were distressed to find we weren’t quite so irresistible as we once were. Enrique, Simeone, Jardim, they all hesitated. Allegri’s flirtation – our first choice – proved to be more extortion than seduction.
Then emerged a ghoulish banshee with eyeshadow like the rock band Kiss. A figure of unparalleled disinterest and infinitely less seduction. Brendan Rodgers. Fans are rightly calling to unite behind the next manager regardless of the selection but even a toadstool oozing hallucinogenic spores couldn’t awaken the faintest of stirs in 42nd street’s most deplorable with that name. Luckily, the menacing threat of Brendan 2.0 drifts day by day – 7/1, 12/1, now 16 – and a breath of optimism can be taken once more.
Cue the influx of the more mysterious procurers as the Club became more open in its search – Željko Buvač and Rui Faria, the long-term servants of Klopp and Mourinho, both leaving their posts. They were too fresh. Tuchel, the king of the younger bunch, went to Paris despite admitting being attracted by our mating call – another one missed.
But emerge from the ashes, our former-captain and Spanish stallion Mikel Arteta. Mikel Arteta who’s never managed a football team but has learnt and received compliments from the very best. In truth, it’s not a choice many wholeheartedly called for when ‘Arsene’s decision’ was announced. However, as developments unfold, the more obvious a selection he becomes.
Is there a danger Arteta could become another hussy of Gazidis’ desire – a manager who will fit into his profitable system rather than take the reigns hostage and revitalise in the manner that Mourinho, Guardiola, Klopp, and Conte all have at individual moments? The past week’s rumours reassure that Arteta may be rather more bolshie than first thought.
It’s clear the Club are pursuing plastic surgery rather than an airbrushing, and rightfully so. That’s been evidenced by the widespread clear out of senior staff who are now plodding their way to the next deuce – Las Vegas for the lucky or Atlanta and Detroit for the rather less so.
We need a young and fiery manager to reanimate not just the team, but the atmosphere that surrounds the Club. The likes of an Henry or Vieira was always fanciful and impractical. Arteta on the other hand, despite being younger than both, seems groomed and suited for the trade. Is it conceivable that he can still meet our uncompromising expectations despite it being his first role in charge? Something tells that Arteta won’t be stripped of his innocence quite so readily in the way that Gary Neville was.
With cautious optimism, we shall unite and see. Whatever happens, at least it won’t be the street’s plainest urchin, Brendan Rodgers.
Tom KershawFollow @trlkershaw