Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta does appear to be the frontrunner for the vacant manager’s role at Arsenal at the moment. CEO Vinai Venkatesham and chief negotiator Huss Fahmy have been pictured outside his home in the North West.
At this stage, it is not known whether the Spaniard has been offered the job, but it’s likely that he is very much one of their favoured candidates to replace Unai Emery as the Gunners’ next permanent head coach.
On the face of it, it would be a pretty big risk. Arteta may have played at the highest level but he is yet to be the number one at any club, let alone one the size of Arsenal.
As fans have already seen with Freddie Ljungberg, putting someone in charge who has no experience of managing first team clubs can backfire. So why would the Gunners’ board take another gamble, considering the club’s position in the table?
As someone from the outside looking in, it is hard to say, but we can gain some insight into what the club could be letting themselves in for, by looking at what his colleagues at Manchester City say about him. Let’s start with Pep Guardiola. Being one of the best managers in the world, he should know a thing or two, and his praise fo Arteta is pretty emphatic:
“Sooner or later it’s going to happen. He’s a young manager, he’s 37, so he is so young but he has experience already to handle big players and teams and when it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
“He’s helped me a lot. From day one, so not just the last two seasons, from day one. He has an incredible work ethic, and he has a special talent to analyse what happens, and to find the solutions.”
That could be someone desperately trying to keep hold of his chief lieutenant but even so, it shows how highly Pep values Arteta’s contributions and judgement. The players coached by the Spaniard, share the same opinion. Gabriel Jesus values his training input:
“He’s helped a lot of players. When I want to do finishing after training, I tell him and he comes and helps me. So he is really fantastic for us. All the players know that – everyone knows that in the club. He is a fantastic guy and fantastic manager.
While Fernandinho values Arteta’s insight into his midfield role:
“For me, especially Mikel Arteta, because he played in the same position as I play. So sometimes I have private chats with him to correct some positions or something that is wrong.”
Of course, even accepting all of this praise, there have been notable failures for number twos who have stepped up to become manager. A few of Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistants at Manchester United, for example, Brian Kidd, Steve McClaren and Carlos Quieroz, all failed to make the step up to some degree.
It is, therefore, difficult to say whether Arteta would be a success. It could be a needless gamble that damages Arsenal’s season, but could also prove to be an inspired decision. From those who have worked with him at City, it does suggest the latter but time will tell if and when he is officially appointed manager.