Tag Archives: Mikel Arteta

A Wife and Two Break-Ups

Every relationship, whether hellish or hospitable, has a leading-on period.

Firstly your wild side wants to charge in, Theo Walcott-esque, with little idea for the end product. I imagine the train of thought goes something likes this, “Do it. Do it. Kick it. Run. Run faster. Fetched!” But when the time comes to commit to the final ball, the doubts can be consuming. “But how could she possibly control the cross with those prison toothbrush toenails?” The drawbacks defer you and, in Walcott’s case, a blind get-out punt into the away stand follows.

Two men fell victim to such romantic hesitations this week.

The first was the North Korean leader, whose courtship became all too high-maintenance in its nuclear lustings and the banquet of ‘hostesses’ at an unnamed Singaporean suite was cancelled in lieu of the Donald’s break-up.

The second was none other than our scorned Spaniard.

It is easy to sympathise with Mikel Arteta, who’d practically half-Odemwingied in his desire for the position as journalists touted it as ‘basically a done deal’. But like a cruelly guarded affair, Ivan Gazidis was wooing his mistress before breaking off the marriage.

Many were so infatuated by Arteta’s mystery that there was no other option and it meant enthusiasm towards Unai Emery’s appointment was initially rather muted. However, the truth is, for the board at least, Arteta was too fresh and too unpredictable. It was one of love’s old clichés – ‘the right person at the wrong time’.

However, I have no doubts the Club came to the correct decision. Not necessarily in choosing Emery, but in appointing him over Arteta.

Arsenal are in an unstable period. Our leader and, to an extent, our philosophy has irreversibly changed and it’s essential we’re guided by someone proven in handling such a situation. Even with a heavy heart, it was right to second-guess the Spaniard.

Admittedly, Emery did somewhat lose his allure in France and the recent revelation that it was Neymar who was the boss in Paris is a slight cause for concern. However, his achievements at Sevilla indisputably showed that he’s a serial winner.

Emery’s approach is meticulous, hands-on, and he’ll work within the Club’s temperamental new structure. It may not quite be the new wife we supporters hoped for but it’s still the drastic change we desired.

It’s inevitable that after these years of repeated heartbreak, we’ll enter any new relationship with trepidation. But now the leading-on period is over and we’ve committed so there’s nothing to do but blindly charge in à la Theo.



Ivan Gazidis opts for plastic surgery for return to red light district

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 Kershaw

Arsenal target Steve Bould replacement

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.