Arsenal leaning towards Arteta, here’s why that’s the right decision (long read)

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It’s over.

Arsene is OUT.

A new future awaits.

We know very little about what’s actually going on with the status of the managerial interview process at the moment, but what we know for sure is now the season is finished, the club can talk to Bundesliga candidates and people from the Premier League. Next week, we’ll be able to meet with Serie A prospects.

I’ve been weighing up the next coach for years, plotting out who could be the best candidate for Arsenal, and now the options are starting to narrow, it’s clear the front runners are Vieira, Nagelsmann, Arteta and Allegri.

I think the Juventus maestro is looking less and less likely by the day. Someone on his team leaked a story to The Sun that he’d look for a £200m transfer kitty to come to the club. Firstly, that’s never going to happen, secondly, what does that tell you about the way he operates? Things could go very Conte, very quickly. By that I mean back channelling complaints in the media, throwing games to make a point the squad is shite, and letting emotions get in the way of doing the best job possible.

Sources close to Allegri, who first revealed his interest in our exclusive TWO MONTHS ago, claim his ambitions have to be matched.

He will accept the job if Arsenal can take him to the levels he is used to at Juve, which include competing in the Champions League.

Allegri won’t be working in a perfect environment, and it’s telling that his team are already making demands about the environment. We are not going to be operating like Juventus immediately, if that’s his expectation, he’ll be disappointed. It also reads like he’s looking to turbocharge the rebuild to suit his rush to win a Champions League. Though that would be lovely, we have to be real, Arsenal won’t be on that path for a while. We’re not going to give him Galactico budgets, we’ll have to make an impact using a different strategy.

I do wonder how Allegri would cope being at a club that doesn’t have the funds to compete with City, United or Chelsea. When you’re one of the best, with just the Champions League evading you, how are you going to feel about working with tier two funds? Fine if you’re Klopp, he likes being the underdog and relishes the challenge. Allegri is at the Manchester City of Italy. Arsenal will never be that.

The leak could also be a white flag from his team, making their reasons as to why he’s not heading over very clear. Either way, it’s not a good sign. For all Wenger’s faults, he never really complained in the press about the board or his lot in life, he ploughed on through the dark years. That’s the Arsenal way, that’s one of the values you want from your new hire, loyalty to the cause however tough it is.

Also, though his football is tactically exciting, as Paul Merson mentioned, it takes us back to the George Graham era of football. Catching teams on the break with incisive counter-attacking football. I could live with it, but it’d be a sharp deviation from what we love. I appreciate there’s a lot of excitement about having a manager who can defend properly, but we don’t have to destroy our style in the process. Look at how United fans are dealing with Mourinho football. Who wants 2nd place that way? Also worth noting Allegri is taking English lessons. Small detail, but building out Arsenal and a new life whilst getting to grips with a new language is tough.

Nagelsmann is the hottest young coaching option in the game, what he’s done at Hoffenheim is next level. I don’t think his club is going to let him go, he’s tied into a strict contract that would require a big fee to release him. Also, he’s apparently planning on settling down with his lady, and it sounds like Munich is the dream. He’s 31, if he does well at Arsenal, there’s a cap on his tenure, a bit like signing a young Barca player. He’ll always pine for Bayern.

Patrick Vieira being on the list is an odd one. He’s not set the world alight in the US and he’s been working with average players. The fans obviously love him, but I’m not sure that’s enough to land the job.

That’s why I’m throwing my vote behind Arteta.

He’s a very interesting prospect if you have the stomach for strategic risk. He’s not been the head coach at a club yet. But that shouldn’t scare people off, because there are so many interesting facets around his star that make this potential move feel very exciting.

I’ll start with the easy one. Leadership is in his blood. He’s been the captain of two Premier League clubs, Everton, then Arsenal at a time where he needed to help stabilise us post-Cesc. I’m really not worried about him being overawed by the head coach role, some people just naturally gravitate towards responsibility and can lead. He’s clearly one of those people.

He’s also been in on the ground floor at Manchester City, actively contributing to the creation of one of the best Premier League sides of all time.

Guardiola is desperate to keep hold of Arteta, who he considers pivotal to his backroom staff at City.

The Catalan immediately approached Arteta when agreeing to take over at the Etihad – valuing his knowledge of English football.

They hit 100 points yesterday. That is insane. Arteta has been there from the start, he’s witnessed how you coach new ideas into players, he’s helped improve people like Sterling, he’s in the day to day. He has helped create history. He worked through the very average first season with Pep and helped fix it in the most spectacular way.

Why would Arsenal not want to hire in someone with the hottest intellectual property in world football?

In business, a tried and true strategy for smart hiring is pinching the young people in and around great successes at other companies. If you make a great advert that wins a bunch of awards, that team is decimated the next year as rival agencies pick off the people who they ‘hoped’ worked on it so they can infuse that magic in their client accounts.

Tesla has been bleeding engineers and senior managers to Apple’s car division. Why are they raiding them? Because those people have been part of something special from the ground up. Does anyone say that’s a bad strategy because Elon is such a dominant force in the media? No, because in business, it’s more clearly understood that the person taking all the credit always has an incredible body of thinkers/doers underneath them making the work happen. We tend to think of football differently to business, despite clubs increasingly moving to structures that closely resemble traditional corporations. A collection of specialists reporting into a CEO (the head coach).

It’s also worth remembering that Pep G and Pochettino both fought it out for Arteta’s signature before he’d even hung up his boots. That’s two of the best coaches on the planet. A pretty strong endorsement of what people think of him. This is the Spurs manager.

“I love him and he loves me,”

“You know our history from Paris St Germain, when he was 17 and I was the captain.”

Arteta said no to his mate Poch because he wanted a way back to Arsenal.

An even bigger endorsement came from Pep Guardiola after the City game yesterday.

‘Mikel’s contribution was outstanding, amazing, and we have been so good together,’

‘So, if he stays I will be happiest guy in the world. If he decides to move because he has this option I will not say: “You don’t have to go”.

‘I want the best for my friends and he is a friend. If he decides to go I will be sad but I will understand his decision.

‘Because it is his career, his life and family and I am not the right guy to say you don’t have to do that.

‘But hopefully he can stay and finish what we have together in the coming years.’

Pep could have easily said he doesn’t comment on speculation. He could have said he wasn’t ready. He could have said no. Telling that he didn’t.

Back to Arteta, the guy cried on his last game with us. He loves the club, he’ll know there are doubts about his ability to transition, and he’ll go through brick walls to make it work. I love his ruthless ambition to make it big. Mourinho like moves on a major job.

The most important thing he can do for me is bring sexy football back to The Emirates. I want to see innovative thinking. I want to see a continuation of the Wenger legacy in a more modern and disciplined setup. Where better to find that than from under the wing of Pep Guardiola?

There’s also the brass tacks of this sort of move. The club is having a clear out of the coaching staff. Colbert, Boro, Banfield, Peyton, Bibbo and maybe even Bould might be off. I have no doubt the club will want to control the coaching hires, and I expect they’ll be making offers as we speak. You need a manager who is comfortable with the club decentralizing power and control. Allegri is unlikely to tolerate that if he’s putting his reputation on the line. Even the relative novice Thomas Tuchel was fired because he couldn’t deal with the power structure at Dortmund.

In Arteta, we’re hiring a coach. The club doesn’t need someone to manage transfers, contracts, and every single department of the club. We need to hire someone who knows how to train players, keep them motivated and ultimately improve them. We need a person who can work with different departments, synthesize data, and make bold and imaginative decisions. We need someone to coach the kids, recalibrate the senior players, and help support smart additions to a squad that needs surgery.

This is not us signing Steve Mcclaren or Carles Queiroz.

  • This is hiring in a b-team coach called Pep Guardiola for Barcelona in 2008.
  • This is Hoffenheim hiring a 28-year youth team coach in Germany, a move apparently so absurd, the local press called it a PR stunt. The guy who owns Hoffenheim, billionaire Dietmar Hopp, co-found SAP, one of the most successful software companies on the planet. They know a thing or two about staffing and what it takes to build a success machine. He’s been working in and around the club for a very long time and has taken them from nowhere to Champions League for the second season running.
  • This is Madrid hiring their greatest ever player because they wanted to do a Pep G in 2016.
  • Salzburg hired their youth team manager, Marco Rose, and he made the semi-finals of the Europa League. Redbull is a mega-organization dominating their chosen fields in sport, they know how to run and staff highly effective enterprises.
  • Schalke hired a 31-year-old coach with a degree in business engineering and a master’s in innovation management and he made the Champions League in his first season, going from 10th to 2nd.
  • Portugal has an esteemed history of taking chances on young innovators, with Porto winning big with Jose back in the day.

This move isn’t a madness. It’s positioning ourselves as a modern club and getting ahead of the curve.

Arteta will need to work on some internal PR at the club. He was at Arsenal when he was on the back nine of his career, his legs were clearly failing him and his body was going into freefall, I’m not surprised he wasn’t great to be around. But people grow, and he’ll have to make sure he’s good to folk around him if he wants to make this work. Bringing people together is so important in a rebuild, especially when morale is low.

Finally, just remember, no manager guarantees success. The key thing is matching the hire to the job in front of them. I think Arteta could be a perfect fit. The pay off could be unbelievable, and look, Arsenal has to take a risk if they want to beat out Manchester City. We need to try something different. We need to move into the future. Why not do it with a coach, who according to Matt Hughes, is a potential successor to Pep at Manchester City.

I think this could be an inspired move, and I think people are coming round to the potential of Arsenal doing something visionary with their next hire. You only have to look at the #WelcomeMikel tweets after Pep spoke out about his assistant. Even Ian Wright is onboard! Fans will get behind progress, and I think people are starting to see that this could be very exciting for thier Arsenal experience next season.

In conclusion, yes this a brave decision, it’s also the most logical. We’d be hiring a former Arsenal club captain who has an emotional attachment to the club, someone who has been mentored by the greatest coach alive and has been a massively integral part of a record-breaking Premier League winning team. We shouldn’t pass up this opportunity. We should embrace it and see where it takes us.

Right, that’s me done. See you in the comments.

627 Responses to “Arsenal leaning towards Arteta, here’s why that’s the right decision (long read)”

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  1. Peter12

    I totally Agree with Gunner SF. In my humble opinion Arteta appointment would be a disaster for Arsenal for the following reasons: (1) He has no experience as as the HEAD coach at any club. I could possibly live with that, but; (2) Precisely because he has been a player at the club, therefore most unlikely to command authority over anybody; (3) Without that authority he cannot become a Head coach to even average ex-mates let alone those getting £350k people; (4) At City no player gets that sort of salary (remember they wouldn’t pay Alexis’s outrageous demands in January and they pulled out. no primadonnas, they just work their pants of for the head coach who is next to being a football GOD. (5) Arteta has zilch media appeal or interest (except his hair!) . Why should anybody (media or player) listen to him. For all these reasons, but above all being an ‘an internal candidate’ with no mystique, would be the most uninspiring choice. Let him prove his credentials as a head coach elsewhere first.

    Now, Nagellsmann would be a different kettle-of-fish. Youth (I can live with that), mystique (yes), player curiosity (yes, the fact that he never really made it himself as a player is not a bad omen – remember ‘The Special One’ never made it as a player either but he continued to scare the pants off all the players until got to the United!), his unpredictability (no huge ego about loosing face something goes wrong). Wenger’s problem was that he kept on repeating his mistakes, never learning. If we want the existing players to be stirred up, then this is the guy!

    Failing Nagellsmann, Benitez should be our choice. He has worked with the best players as well as nurturing up and coming ones equally well. This is my humble opinion.

    of managing the media

  2. Guns of Brixton

    See what Pedro is saying … just feel with Arteta we would be running a pale imitation of Pep and of City.

  3. Emiratesstroller

    Interesting Daily Mail have published tonight that Arsenal have terminated
    employment of large number of backroom staff at the club.

    The most notable departure is the club head of medical services Gary Lewin
    who was according to newspaper shocked by decision.

    Others leaving are Primorac [coach], Bamfield [coach], Payton [goalkeeping coach], Colbert [fitness coach] and Johnston [equiptment manager].

    Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann are expected to remain at the club.

  4. Elmo

    “hiring number twos and moving them to numbers 1s is a well-trodden path at major companies all around the world.”

    Pretty much every ‘number 2’ would have successfully headed up a business unit themselves at some point, just to get to that position. That would be the equivalent, at a minimum, of doing 2 years at Watford under the Pozzos and finishing in the top 10.

  5. Marko

    How would people react were it Henry who’d sought the best for his coaching career and had endorsements from Pep and Poch? Would folk be all aboard the hype train? I tend to think they would.

    Honestly no. With the club in its current state I wouldn’t be confident having a novice or a prospect in charge it’s too great a risk and we’ve got to stop this steady decline we’re on.

  6. Mfaber

    Vieira was a colossus on the pitch. Brutish? maybe when he had to be… but so what? Frankly its a quality that we have missed for a long time, and were he to return than that would be what he brings with him.

    Football, especially in the Premier league, is at its heart, brutish, And a coach/manager that has that at his core would instil it into his teams. Would it take time? For sure … the last 10 or so Wenger years have been cruel beyond belief.

    Wenger made the current setup in his image: beautiful, but flawed and fragile.

    AND that includes the WHOLE structure of the club … which includes this bland, controlling and corporatized board. They themselves are creatures of Wenger’s insanity. He was instrumental in hiring/selecting most of them probably…

    Arteta with phrases such as ‘promise of youth’ and ‘fitting into a structure’ and other blandness, continues that Wenger culture, even if you cannot see it.

    We need someone who can break that cycle. The board do not want this – how can they? They have been suckled on the Wenger tit for so long that they only can see one way: structured corporate management shite. Arsenal isn’t fucking HSBC; but that’s what they want to turn it into. Because it is something they understand and they think they can control. They have actually BOUGHT into Wenger’s flawed vision of football being something you can create by structure and hierarchy and ‘values’. Fuck right off.

    If you want to use an analogy for football, it is not the corporate world… rather it is ‘who do you want to go to war with?’ The fucking marines with a chopper and a loudspeaker or a string quartet with a musket rifle? Watching Wenger’s team season after season (since 2005/2006) has been a repeat of the same thing: no ‘brutishness’ when we needed to die for the cause, but you give us space and let us play, then we will make some beautiful music. But only if you don’t kick us, because we have no brutes.

    And who is going to bring back that esprit de corps? Arteta, the corporate choice? The same Arteta who captained and led these paper tigers?

    I don’t think so. Vieira all the way.

  7. Sid

    Arteta’s appointment would be underwhelming to say the least, and I doubt the club would be (should be) taking such a gamble.
    Your example of Apple poaching tesla engineers holds no water as apple aren’t replacing tim Cook with a under the radar engineer from tesla.
    Yes, there is no surety about any manager, allegri or jardim or whoever could very well fail with arsenal but there is something called probability. Arsenal at present are not in a situation to afford such a gamble. We take such decisions every day in our life’s, like taking route a instead of route b to work at 8 am because you know route b will jam up. Sure one of the Wednesday’s route b could be free of traffic but you take decisions based on history and probability.
    Arteta for that precise reasons a big risk, he may turn out to be pep 2.0 but there is precious little evidence to suggest that and as such the move is fraught with risk. The man has no management experience, he is one of the coaches at city and that is the sum total of his claim to football management. Replacing Wenger with him would show nothing of the ambition the fans would want to see.
    There is a time and place of a risky move, unfortunately for arsenal this is not it. Yes, we might miss out on the next coaching sensation but we could also dodge a bullet.
    Let me end with an example of my own, you’ve won a penalty in the champs leagues final and you have to choose between messi, neymar, ronaldo and charlie autin to take it (yes in a alternate universe they are all in the same team, just roll with it). Who do you choose? Sure charlie could put it in the top corner or do a rabbona but would you bet on it and ask messi to step aside?

  8. Alex James

    Sounds like another Billy Wright appointment. And us older guys know where that ended up. Sorry, there is no logical argument for appointing a novice like Arteta, other than a lack of experienced coaches willing to come. If this is the case, it is an indication of how far we have fallen these last few years. At least, Wenger’s back room boys are on their way as well.

  9. Carts

    “Others leaving are Primorac [coach], Bamfield [coach], Payton [goalkeeping coach], Colbert [fitness coach] and Johnston [equiptment manager].”

    He old regime must be culled. For the life of me, how Bould might survive this is comical.

    He’s been an enabler of Wenger virtually throughout his tenure. Maybe the new coach want Bould on board because he feels he’ll genuinelybadd some sort of value.

  10. Dissenter

    Oh dear
    West ham are talking to Fonseca …wont renew Moyes contract.
    Everton are paying off big Sam and talking to Silva.
    Midtable clubs are showing the ruthlessness that is lacking at Arsenal.

    We are trying to re-clone Wenger and re-establish another dynasty.
    Cant make this shi* up.

  11. Dissenter

    Pochetinno n is going to leave Spuds this summer. He knows the Real job may be available.’
    He’s asking for his wages to be doubled and fot=t his transfer budget to be doubled as well.
    It’s going to be an interesting summer.

  12. Marko

    Oh dear
    West ham are talking to Fonseca …wont renew Moyes contract.
    Everton are paying off big Sam and talking to Silva.
    Midtable clubs are showing the ruthlessness that is lacking at Arsenal.

    Must be said they aren’t fucking about. Arteta? That would be fucking about

  13. Guns of SF

    Arteta would be crazy. I simply cannot force myself to think that he would offer anything more than an established name or a coach with any sort of experience

    He would be cheap and likely more of the same. I can actually see him staying 3 years and leaving to bettter pastures!

    Vieira is an imposing figure a legend a fighter and leader. Just youtube his highlights for a refresher

    Wow what a player. Inspiring for sure

  14. TonyD

    We might be recruiting a head coach, but what happens on the pitch determines the financials of the club and the branding of the club world wide.

    I’ve hired raw talent before as well as experience in management positions, both have worked and both have failed. However, I have never hired raw talent in a management role either in team leader or above where the income revenues can be severely disrupted or damaged by such a hire.

    For me I’m just happy Wenger has been removed; not from obsession as some night believe, but I saw it as needed for our club to return to it’s rightful place for it financial standing in football.

    As we bleat on whether Arteta is right or the wrong person, nothing we say is going to influence the eventual placement of the manager/head coach or whatever tag you want to give him.

    If Arteta is hired then we have no option but to get behind him. If he fails then he has to be sent packing very quickly along with Gazidis. Both heads should be on the chopping block as it were.

    I’ve never liked the hiring of Gazidis. I have never trusted him and, as mentioned before, his comments about over achieving and scouring the world for a better manager et al have only further devalued him in my estimation.

    I also don’t understand our transfer budget if it is really £50 million. We moved to the Emirates to compete with the other elite clubs. So where is the money? Our past transfers have mostly netted in the the black.

    The 2 concerns I have is that Arteta will be micro managed by Gazidis, Sven and Raul and that Arteta will be a haphazard pawn in a power games by all three.

    The 2nd concern is that his experience is to light in too many areas of people management where his people skills have not been honed for at least a year as a head coach.

    People management comes with experience not from books or watching other people close up. This is a particularly difficult job for any manager taking over with the current culture and needs to be modified in stages.

    Maybe if Arteta was inheriting the team Wenger inherited, I would be more confident that if a few learning curve mistakes were made, the ship wouldn’t have been unduly rocked.

    With this in mind I would have preferred Benitez or Carlo or similar with Arteta as assistant for a year, then let Arteta take over for the following season once the fundamental core changes had been made.

    At the end of the day it is what it is and we’ll just have to give Arteta time to show us what he is really capable of.

    I know it’s not going to be easy for many here to keep their toys in their prams, and I’m sure this blog is going to be on fire for the next season.

    Let’s hope they are good and happy flames to fan.

  15. jasongms


    Just to reiterate what you’ve perfectly stated, The hiring of either experience or inexperience brings about quite different sets of dynamics yet with each being similarly problematic.
    Like you wrote, both can fail equally in the same fashion and for a multitude of reasons i.e conflicting set of ideas, not appreciating the gravity of the position etc.
    This is why it is the fiduciary obligation of the CEO to get this appointment right. Appraising the position and focusing on what the Arsenal need in the short term to turn this club around, both commercially and as a footballing force.

    I don’t think it would be an understatement to say that the club is not in the best physical shape. The whole backroom staff are being replaced, we have only just this season hired a DOF and the team is in dire need of an upgrade. Right across the board, there is new staff being hired that are not familiar with the workings of the company/club. In this environment, one has to question the idea of hiring a man that has absolutely no experience in what is certainly the foremost hazardous position outside of the CEO.

    The club is at a precipice, at an extremely salient point in its history. Get this wrong and I have no doubt it would negatively impact the club for the next 5 years.

    And just lastly, we don’t need to be making such an injudicious or brazen appointment. We are an elite club with a worldwide following, one of the richest clubs in world football, our brand is unique and comparable to only a few others. Hire a manager that can steady the ship, reigniting the brand and its credibility.

    The smart decision is not hiring an inexperienced manager with no credibility and with no marketing or commercial appeal, especially when the odds are so heavily stacked against him succeeding.

    Arteta/ Maybe in a few years, but not in this environment.

  16. TitsMcGee

    Patrick Vieira being on the list is an odd one. He’s not set the world alight in the US and he’s been working with average players. The fans obviously love him, but I’m not sure that’s enough to land the job.

    That’s why I’m throwing my vote behind Arteta.”

    One with managerial experience. One without. Seems risky to me. Im not hot on either btw.

  17. TitsMcGee

    They hit 100 points yesterday. That is insane. Arteta has been there from the start, he’s witnessed how you coach new ideas into players, he’s helped improve people like Sterling, he’s in the day to day. He has helped create history. He worked through the very average first season with Pep and helped fix it in the most spectacular way.

    Why would Arsenal not want to hire in someone with the hottest intellectual property in world football?”

    How many of Pep’s disciples have gone on to success? Just because he’s on the staff doesn’t mean that it’s not sill 95% Pep.

  18. Danny S

    Wenger is gone! I’m so happy I would take any candidate right now. I can’t see us doing any worse and just the prospect of something different is making me get excited about football again. I haven’t had that for an eternity it seems.
    Bring on Arteta, let’s see what he can do. We will sign the same players regardless of the coach I think so if arteta bombs, bring on the next man. It’s only up from now.

  19. jasongms

    People seem to think that Pep and Arteta were wired in and shared the workload on and off the pitch, even influencing the decision making of what sub to make and tactics to employ.

    That incredibly Arteta was the secret source behind Citi’s success.

    Only Arsenal fans could be this feeble-minded.

  20. TonyD

    Well put.

    Many here don’t consider the financial and commercial ramifications of such an appointment, which really paints Gazidis in a poor light.

    Management is not a divine right, it is earned through experience with time served.

    Bryan Robson and Roy Keane are prime examples of failure having worked with the best in the business.

    Interesting times ahead.

  21. Victorious

    so much for the detailed and thorough screening and processing of candidates for the job

    Gazidis really is a slimy prick,obviously Arteta has been the preferred candidate all the while then he should have been brought in asap to start the groundwork for next season,good to see Wenger is no more a shield for their utter cluelessness.

  22. Robin van Bergkamp

    I wonder if in being luke warm, cold even on suggestions of Arteta returning as Arsenal manager, some of us have largely been overlooking what Jimbo posted yesterday at 15:44:55

    ” As soon as Arteta was not in and around the team – Arsenal drop out of the top 4. ”

    I have recollection of reports that we were significantly more successful when he started matches as a player. He may well be more qualified than we have given him credit for. While my first choice of the two former players was Patrick Vieira I’m happy to give him a shot at the job. Who knows how much better he has become since working in close harmony with Guardiola? Given the directionless manner of our management in these past years almost any manager could possibly have outperformed dear old Arsene. If someone like Benitez could be a fit so I believe could Arteta. Perhaps even more so.

  23. Chika

    “Arteta has zilch media appeal or interest (except his hair!)”

    Some of you write the stupidest things.

  24. Confidentgoner

    There is a fundamental Error most folk make. A good manager does not have to be the loudest in his playing days. Sorry. Being a good captain does not equal being a good manager!

    A manager is a guy who looks to motivate, teach and take advantage of the opposing team’s weaknesses. A risk manager. Arteta strikes me as such a guy.

    He would work with goal keeping coaches, defensive coaches and others. Give him a chance if he gets it.