Over the last 24 hours a lot has happened.
Firstly we had Arsenal’s senior negotiating team getting “caught” leaving Mikel Arteta’s house in the early hours, then we had the news that Carlo Ancelotti was Everton’s first choice to be new manager.
Arsenal have come in for a bit of criticism and mocking for being “caught” leaving Mikel Arteta’s house, but the situation is odd, almost stalkers.
It was 1am in the morning when the pictures were taking. Was a member of the paparazzi hiding in the bushes outside of Arteta’s house just in case someone showed up? And if so how long has he been hiding there? Or did he tail Huss Fahmy and Vinai Venkatesham from London? It all comes across as a little intrusive, a little desperate from the British media.
I guess ultimately the photographer got his picture, got his money, and will now have a good Christmas from the profits. Still, it’s odd that the British media criticise Arsenal when they promote stalker behaviour to get a story.
So Arsenal, and Everton, both had a choice.
In one corner you have Mikel Arteta. A man who has captained both clubs. Who has been involved in British football over 17 years.
Arteta became one of Pep Guardiola’s first back room staff when was appointed an assistant coach at Manchester City back in 2016.
At 37-years-old, he will be the youngest manager in the Premier League by over 4 years if appointed (Frank Lampard currently being the youngest). He will be the 5th youngest Premier League or English Football League manager.
Arteta has no managerial experience at any level, but is a trusted lieutenant for Guardiola.
Reports coming out of Manchester City are that Guardiola takes a step back on the training ground. More overseeing the session rather than running drills. Arteta has grown into the man in charge.
The importance of Arteta is detailed in Pep’s City: The Making of a Superteam. What comes through is that Arteta, is integral to the work undertaken on the training ground – and particularly with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane – and that he has the complete trust of Guardiola.
Having grown up through the Barcelona youth system, Arteta shares the same basic philosophy as his fellow La Masia alumni.
In an interview with the Arsenal website back in 2015, Arteta outlined what type of manager he wanted to be:
‘My philosophy will be clear. I will have everyone 120 per cent committed, that’s the first thing. If not, you don’t play for me. When it’s time to work it’s time to work, and when it’s time to have fun then I’m the first one to do it, but that commitment is vital.
Then I want the football to be expressive, entertaining. I cannot have a concept of football where everything is based on the opposition.
We have to dictate the game, we have to be the ones taking the initiative, and we have to entertain the people coming to watch us. I’m 100 per cent convinced of those things, and I think I could do it.’
Commitment. Expressive, entertaining football. Taking the initiative in games. It is everything Arsenal fans demand. It would be what some claim was The Arsenal Way.
Arteta might be young, he might be inexperienced, but he clearly has the intelligence and confidence to get to the very top.
If Arteta is virgin manager, Carlo Ancelotti is anything but. He is a man who has been around a bit, done everything there is to do.
At 60-years-old, he has won almost everything there is to win in European football, including the Intertoto Cup.
He has led his teams to 19 trophies during his 24 years of management, including 4 league titles and 3 Champions Leagues.
He has managed Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli.
Winning the league title in 3 different countries, he has shown tactical flexibility throughout his career – from the defensive style in Italy through to playing expansive football with Real Madrid. He has the experience, success and knowhow to make a difference wherever he goes.
But is he past it?
He was sacked by Napoli with them sitting 8th in the league table.
Ancelotti’s downfall began when he dropped Lorenzo Insigne for his team’s first game against Genk. Insigne to Napoli is what Francesco Totti was to Roma or Alesandro Del Perio was to Juventus. Their talisman. One of their own. Ancelotti was sending a message to his players.
There was mutiny within the ranks. He was unable to keep players in check and had clearly lost the dressing room.
Tactical mistakes were made. 21 goals conceded despite having a defence of Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas. Critisicims that have followed Ancelotti throughout his career– that he does not push players hard enough in training – resurfaced. And he left.
It was a similar story at Bayern Munich.
Towards the end of Ancelotti’s reign at the German giant, there were reports that senior players organised secret training sessions.
Kicker ran a story claiming that Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mats Hummels, Jérôme Boateng and Thomas Müller were particularly unhappy with Ancelotti’s relaxed training sessions and had so organised ‘secret’ high-intensity sessions behind his back.
Robben reportedly complained that Ancelotti’s training methods were less strenuous than the ones his son had to do with his school team.
Whilst he may well have a trophy haul that puts him amongst the most successful in Europe, should it be more impressive?
17 years in charge of Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich saw him win just 4 league titles. Is this not a failure rather than a success?
He has managed the best teams in their league, with the biggest budgets. Coached some of the best players in the world. But has he ever achieved at any of his clubs? Has he ever improved players? Has he ever taken a club forward from where they were previously?
In 2014 Manchester United appointed Louis van Gaal as manager. A man who came with a similar reputation for success as Ancelotti.
Like Ancelotti, he was coming to the end of his career. His faults were well known. He did not revolutionise United and the nagging doubts over style of play became a bigger talking point than results.
Ancelotti’s faults are well known. How long until noises are being made at his next club that training sessions are not intense enough? How long until he loses the dressing room for the umpteenth time?
So Arsenal (and Everton) have a choice.
The experienced winner, who has not won as much as he perhaps should have, who has been sacked from his last 2 jobs in similar circumstances. Or the virgin former captain who is rated highly as a coach but comes with zero track record.
I think what swings it for me is the view of those who know a thing or two about management.
‘He has all the qualities to do the job, yes and I think as well he is one of the favourites
‘He was a leader, and he has a good passion for the game and he knows the club well, he knows what is important at the club and he was captain of the club.’
‘For me, he’s going to be one of the best coaches when he decides to be a coach. ‘He has the capacity to be one of the greatest coaches in football, for sure.
‘Yes of course, he’s going to be. ‘He’s top, a top personality, character. ‘I think he has the qualities to be one of the best.’
‘He is an incredible human being and works a lot. I said after a few months together he would be a manager. He is already a manager – he behaves like a manager.’
The opinion of Wenger, Pochettino and Guardiola is more valuable than someone on Twitter.