I book hotels based on the what the lobby looks like, if it looks fancy, I’m in. I found a lobby I liked in Atlanta, the furnishing looked cool, the art looked interesting, pretty pictures of fine-looking southern cocktails… found out as I approached that I was booked above a famous strip club.
I made a bad choice. I’m currently sat in a trashy bar trying to come to terms with the fact I am sharing a building with the sort of people that travel between states for a fave stripper they ‘connect’ with. My room is on the same floor as the kitchen that sells chicken wings. The scene is not what I expected and I’m at the age where this has rocked my world.
I’m not crying about the noise. You are.
Still, we live with the consequences and move on. At least I have a voucher for a cup of tea in the morning.
Arsenal managerial news is still fairly murky, fans are struggling with French newspapers running hit pieces about names that are trying to land a foot in the door with an Everton exec team that seems as clueless as Arsenal’s. The latest name is Paulo Sousa, who is at Bourdeaux. I think it’s a fiction. Well, I hope it is. If you are Portuguese and have kicked a ball in the last 50 years, chances are you know someone that can land you an interview with Raul.
The latest I’m hearing is the same as David Ornstein (convenient) – that the club is pursuing Patrick Vieira and Mikael Arteta. The noises from the shop floor are that most favour Mikael over Paddy, but as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t hold much weight if Edu is a bros before non-bros kind of guy.
Either way, it’s looking very likely that Arsenal will end the month with an ex-trophy winning captain of Arsenal in the dugout. At the very least, that means the club will be treated with sort of tender soft touch we deserve because that touch will come with love. That’s a good start when you consider Nuno was in the running two weeks ago, that’s the touch of an insurance broker pervert on the C2C when you’re asleep.
Patrick Vieira hasn’t really been on the Le Grove radar for obvious reasons… he’s simply not done a good enough job for me to care.
I love him. Truly one of the greatest names to have pulled on an Arsenal shirt. He’d have my backing simply because of who he is. My worry? He’d be the closest hire we could make to Frank Lampard in terms of comparables.
Vieira matches up when it comes to legend status very closely with Lampard. Both managers had similarly average stints before the took a bigger job. Frank took Derby from 6th to 6th. Paddy hasn’t really moved the needle for Nice this season, they’re sitting in 13th, they’ve had a very choppy time of it, he’s only managed 3 wins in the last 11 games (after spending £52m on new players, net £29m). He moved them from 8th, to 7th . Good, but not glittering in a league where Lille moved from 17th to 2nd in the same period (and Mourinho just pinched their backroom team).
My other concern is this: City sent him to America and didn’t put up much of a fight to keep him in the group when he wanted a new challenge. Rumours were rife when he was coaching in England that the sheikhs were eyeing him as a successor to Pep. What happened? (Arteta)
Edu will have to tread a careful line here as well. Anyone in business who has hired in a friend will tell you what a fucking nightmare it can be. You always end up disappointed, they’re either shite and they fuck your rep, or they’re incredible and they push you out of the McDonald’s kitchen onto the tills, which is actually really boring, so that’s why me and Darren stopped talking.
Doesn’t matter if you’re in finance or brick-laying, everyone has a story. It is very difficult to hire a BBF into a job as cutthroat as football because things go wrong so fast. It can also have the negative impact of setting the wrong tone for the culture of the club, every decision can end up looking tainted, because really, hiring in someone because you like them isn’t 21st-century savvy (Ray Dalio has a section in his excellent book, Principles, where he straight up calls it morally corrupt). Worse than that for Edu, if there is deep support of Arteta, it’s an easier pill for everyone to swallow if things go wrong because the failure is shared. If the Brazilian Technical Director goes out on a limb for a manager with an average record and it goes badly, that’s ‘lose your job’ territory.
If I’m given the choice of a bland record I can sift through or rolling the dice for ‘Arteta the unknown’… then I’ll roll that fucking dice. We just hired in someone that won it all in France and it was toxic. I’m not sure what Patrick is offering to the Arsenal party outside a reputation, I can’t even figure it out in theory. The football isn’t special, he’s not growing out world-class players, and he’s not making the Nice team better than the sum of their parts like Favre did when he took Nice to the Champions League.
If Arteta is still in the mix after three years, that tells you something. He must be maintaining his rep in the game because the club aren’t excited about him simply because he has really nice hair and a fan blog dedicated to his potential. Huss & co are obviously getting good intel to back up the hype that follows him about in management books, player interviews, and Pep love-ins.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think the decision is that crazy, even if it was, who cares, we need a moonshot to kick-start this 2.0 project. Safe is not a strategy that correlates with our situation. Safe is literally 14 years of Arsene Wenger and 18 months of Emery. Safe is code for meek, stagnant, unoriginal. It just pushes you further away from taking the drastic steps needed to make Arsenal competitive and relevant on a meagre budget.
If Pep Guardiola says Arteta is an excellent analyst that always comes with innovative solutions, that tells you that he’s looking at problems, formulating plans, then executing them with success on the training ground… for a club that won back to back Premier League titles with record-breaking points.
If the press reports are true and he holds most of those training sessions, that tells you that his ideas are good. It also doubles down on the notion that he’s an elite communicator.
Arsenal needs a coach, I think he can be that coach.
Sure, there are parts that he’s going to have to learn. Being the go-to for managing a squad of egos is going to be tough. He’ll be the lonely one in the dugout, but look, he’s not some nutter tactician that hasn’t managed groups of players before, he’s been a captain at two top-level football clubs. Commanding the respect of fellow professional isn’t going to be a steep learning curve.
I also think the club should be able to build experience around him, just like Barcelona did when Pep took over at Camp Nou when he was exactly the same age.
The most valuable thing Arsenal can spend their money on is great ideas because we can’t afford to unload another £200m on players this summer. We have a great group of kids coming through, we will waste their talent if we give them to Carlo (I don’t think we’d go here, but in a fit of panic, he is basically Emery of 2019 after being freshly fired into a narrowed shortlist). We’ll need to reshape the squad in the summer, likely with young kids. They aren’t coming here for an average coach and boring football. We need something to offer them. With the names on offer at the moment, I don’t see anyone in the pack of managers that has a higher ceiling than Arteta.
Take the chance, the season is lost, there is so much to gain in an environment of incredibly low expectations.
Roll the dice, let’s bet on future football.
P.S. Listen to my podcast and 5* rate that bad boy.