As much as I was looking forward to hearing Klopp’s ‘Brains’ stuttering in the presence of Mr Kronke-backer (see original ‘Thunderbirds’), I am delighted to hear that Captain Scarlet lookalike, Mikel Arteta, is set to be appointed the new Arsenal boss. He’s going to have to be a master chef to make a delicate sushi out of what Wenger has left in the kitchen: mostly a load of out-of-date microwave dishes aside from the quality ingredients that the outgoing boss used sparingly or inappropriately. I’ll write more on that later.
Meanwhile, it’s been interesting watching all the blogs confirming that Allegri was to be appointed and I imagine that the same websites will be back tracking and deleting their ‘insider’ news, at this point.
Whoever succeeds Wenger will amount to a risky appointment. That’s why I’ve always said that if Wenger really cared about Arsenal, he would have been grooming his successor.
It was never going to be Steve Bould, it seems, but you’d think the assistant manager would have thrown his hat into the ring, although some have said his application would be tainted by his Wenger association. You get the feeling that Bould simply had to follow instructions, so never really got the chance to make an impact. Surely, Bould could have organised the defence better, if left to his own devices with the squad.
Perhaps, like Pat Rice, Bould only ever wanted to be an assistant boss. However, sometimes these loyal club men end up being better at steadying the ship than the huge egos brought in from elsewhere. I seem to remember the assistant in charge while Arsenal waited to appoint Wenger did pretty well.
Nevertheless, Arsenal need a bit more than ship-steadying with more holes in their defence than the Titanic’s hull, it does make sense to appoint a ‘new voice’ before the World Cup starts. Knowing how slow Arsenal are at conducting business, I wouldn’t bank on the appointment being imminent. What if Arteta wants more money for transfers or a larger salary? If that’s the case, which is likely, then expect inordinate delays.
Ultimately though, you have to say Arteta is the right man for the job. He knows Arsenal already and, apparently, is not afraid of making difficult decisions: hence the dismissal of much of the backroom staff. He is not the players’ choice, as they know he won’t give them an easy ride. As captain, I don’t remember anyone better in recent memory at Arsenal. I loved the way, Arteta talked to his team-mates in an encouraging manner and always led by example, playing the simple pass rather than the speculative eye-of-a-needle ball (that sometimes works but more often than not doesn’t). Additionally, let’s not forget how cooly Arteta despatched his penalty kicks.
Off the pitch, Arteta has accumulated experience alongside Guardiola at Manchester City, but don’t expect the same kind of football at the Emirates. It would be like trying to make sushi with potatoes. I think Arteta will get the best out the current Arsenal squad, by shipping out those who don’t toe the line, almost George Graham-like.
The only thing that worries me about this appointment is the idea of Arteta appointing a team of ‘Invincibles’ around him. I’m not really sure if he can get them all singing from the same hymn sheet, although it might be good to appoint Thierry Henry as an attacking coach and Martin Keown as a defensive coach (if the latter can be enticed back). Aside from that, if I was Arteta, I’d steer clear of the old guard, as they might start back-biting if the going gets tough.
Despite his puppet looks, I think Arteta is enough of a team player to fit into the current managerial structure, while individual enough to fight his corner if he needs to. Mislintat will not be pulling the strings in the background to make Arteta dance to his tune.