There is a tendency for the press to get the cart before the horse. To react and make assumptions based on nothing more than association and Mikel Arteta proves that point perfectly. He was a fine player, the consummate professional and a role model when he was at Arsenal.
Sadly, his career ended because of frailty and injury but he was snapped up by Manchester City and Pep Guardiola in a coaching position. Rumour has it that Pep has rubbed off some of his magic and that Arteta is emerging as a coach with genuine potential but …and it’s a big but, is that enough for the mountainous task of shaping Arsenal into a top club once more?
The hierarchy at Arsenal like the Spaniard and his calm and considered approach. He is held in high regard by the coaching staff, current manager and those that played alongside him, yet the scale of the task, should Wenger leave and Arteta be approached, is nothing short of impossible.
Following Wenger is like trying to replace the pope. All options have to be considered and all avenues explored. Even for a seasoned manager, the size of the project would be enormous and that’s without the added pressure of unrealistic expectations.
Whoever comes in, he would need three or four seasons to recruit a team capable of pushing forward for major silverware plus he would need a sizeable war chest to make the necessary changes. So let’s explore where Arteta, Hiddink, Simeone or Benitez would have to start.
From the back, it’s evidently clear that they need to start again and the majority of the current squad would have to go. Monreal, Bellerin, Koscielny, and Cech would need to be sold, only Mustafi, Niles-Maitland and Kolasinac should remain.
In midfield, Ramsey, Elneny and Xhaka should be propelled towards the exit door. For all Ramsey’s grit and power, he is not the answer to either the creative or defensive midfield problems.
In attack, Walcott and Welbeck need to move on. Both fail to convert chances and flatter to deceive. So that would provide between 100 and 135 million in funds. Of the remaining players, Lacazette should be provided with the service he deserves and players should be drafted in to get the best out of him.
Jack Wilshire should be the central peg around which everything else is built. He is as creative as Ozil and if fit, will develop into an Arsenal great. I would also hand him the captaincy. The man bleeds red and white and is capable of driving and leading the team.
I haven’t mentioned Ozil because the German is almost out the door and will probably be in another team before the manager’s post is available. I’ve also excluded the wantaway Sanchez because he will surely be off in days, so with those two departures you can count on another 60 to 65 million.
The Arsenal board will probably make a further 100 million available for new recruits but would have to be convinced that the New Manager has the credentials and experience to make the right decisions and would be able to mould a team that displays the same attacking virtues.
This would seem to be too much responsibility for Arteta so early in his career. This would be a job for someone who has been around the block, someone with an established pedigree in the Premier League or in Europe and although Arteta would bring fresh ideas, he would be out of his depth.
The press had previously mentioned Eddie Howe as a likely successor but Sean Dyche has certainly done himself no harm at Burnley and if the Gunners were looking for a new direction from a younger manager, Dyche is head and shoulders above Arteta. I believe, however, that Arsenal will look towards experience and that any of those I’ve mentioned previously such as Hiddink, Simeone and Co would be the preferred option.
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