News that Arsene Wenger could be close to signing yet another contract extension at the Emirates has been greeted almost exactly as you would expect: some fans are relatively content, while others – the always measured Piers Morgan, for example – are apoplectic with indignant rage.
Enough of this 'Wenger can choose when he leaves' bullshit.
He should be sacked. Tomorrow. #afc
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 3, 2017
The Arsenal manager of 20 years hasn’t done much to silence his detractors lately, having lost further ground to leaders Chelsea following a dismal series of results over the festive fixture period, and some are beginning to look towards life after the Frenchman.
Several names have been suggested as possible replacements, among them Bournemouth’s manager Eddie Howe, who has been commended for the job he’s done in transforming the Cherries into a solid mid-table Premier League team.
While he may be a promising manager one day capable of taking the reigns at an elite club, Howe probably doesn’t have the credentials to appease Arsenal fans, who – after more than a decade without competing for the major honours – are looking for immediate success.
At the same time, there aren’t many top managers on the market at the moment, most of them already tied up in long-term contracts by fellow Champions League teams. The likes of Mourinho, Pep, Conte, Klopp, Ancelotti and Simeone would be ideal, but it’s unlikely that any of them will be available for at least a few years.
Step forward Patrick Vieira, the former Gunners captain who has taken the MLS by storm since becoming New York City manager one year ago, getting them to the play-offs against the odds.
Let’s get the obvious upside out of the way first: Vieira becoming Arsenal manager would potentially result in TV gold if former United adversary Roy Keane was ever on punditry duty during one of their Champions League games.
Aside from that, the former France midfielder is already intimately acquainted with how things work at the Emirates, and – although he left the club in somewhat acrimonious circumstances back in 2005 – he could easily command the full backing of the fans.
He’s also a promising coach, and has spent years on the City payroll helping to put in place a long-term youth development plan (as well as managing their reserves – which was enough to earn him the coaching gig in New York).
The Arsenal hierarchy probably won’t be too keen on appointing a long-term manager, but in Vieira they’d be getting someone capable of commanding the respect of the dressing room – and trophies would quickly follow if they backed in the transfer window.