If we are to believe all the rumours about the race to replace our departing Manager, the club have narrowed it down to Allegri and Arteta.
It would be fair to say that if you were led to believe that Allegri was the frontrunner and ready for a new managerial challenge, which he may well still be, you were probably excited at the prospect. The 50-year-old Italian has led Juventus to multiple honours and has just wrapped up his fourth ‘Serie A’ title in a row. To many he seems exactly the type of strong tactical leader that many felt Arsene Wenger had ceased to be. Add to that he is a worldwide name with a proven record of accomplishment and the Arsenal faithful seem to want that big name. Particularly as all the club’s Premier League rivals currently have managers of that stature and renown.
However, that type of manager tends to want to be in a position to spend heavily in the transfer market, to make the squad their own swiftly and to strengthen areas they have identified as weaker. It is hearsay that the mad move for Max might have hit the buffers, with Arsenal’s owner-imposed self-sufficiency model. If the media are to be believed there is a suggestion that Allegri would expect far more spend this summer then the £50m plus sales revenue that the club have leaked to the same media. This might present more of an issue this summer, when sales will be tricky early doors with the World Cup only a month away.
My suspicion therefore would be that despite an early warm and positive response to Arsenal’s approach, the eagerness may have cooled when faced with the realities of the coinage in the Emirates Piggy Back. Whilst we all know that the Kroenkes could sanction greater budget and doing so may save the deal yet, there had to be a Plan B. Increasingly it appears that the surprise alternative is a man with no Managerial experience in former Club Captain, Mikel Arteta.
On the face of it there seems a marked difference between the two candidates, in stature, experience and let’s face it, ‘brand’. However, in some senses if you take to to think it through it is Allegri that is the odd choice and Arteta the logical one. Arsenal have spent a season manoeuvring the club into a position not only to relieve Wenger of much of his extensive and unhealthy control and then to ultimately feel able to ask him politely to leave. They did so by making several high level senior appointments of personal to take care of scouting, contracts and the overall running of the football club with Gazidis in all areas barring the running of the first team squad. Wenger was involved in every aspect of running Arsenal from 2007 until this season but by January his role was effectively limited to coaching, setting tactics for and motivating the first team squad.
Would Max Allegri be comfortable with this limited role is a fair question? Perhaps he would but what seems logical in many ways is to employ a first team coach, rather than a manager in the old school sense. This is why I understand the first man approached was Joachim Low at the turn of the year. When this name appeared on a short list, it was met with scepticism, based solely on the basis that the German National team coach had not worked day to day in club management for tear and not with any success. My argument with those I discussed this with was that in the new Arsenal structure his past club experience, or lack of it had no relevance as he would not be involved in anything other than coaching, tactics and motivation, all of which he could undoubtedly do with aplomb.
We all know that Allegri can do tactics, coach and motivate, which is why his appointment would be applauded. The problem is that we do not know whether Arleta can or do we? We do know what the City players thinks of him, what Pep Guardiola thinks of him and that he was a well-respected on pitch organiser at Arsenal. For most, this is not enough and his in experience as a manager concerns them. Again therefore, I come back to the distinction between the previous role of a Manager, in English football and the role in many clubs now, where the role is limited to first team coach, as it has been across Europe commonly for years.
If this is the thought process, then the questions the decision makers are asking each other, other experts and those who know, is just how good is Arleta as a coach, can he improve our players, can he adapt his tactics and can he communicate and if needs be, discipline players not much younger than him. Having spoken to someone, I respect enormously and who through his job works closely with Man City, I have learned that the view of Arteta held by Guardiola and the players in such a short space of time, is also held by the hierarchy at the club. So much that there is already talk of our ex-skipper as being the man to take over from Pep.
In conclusion, I would say, that whilst we are all excited by the possibility of Allegri we should not condemn Arteta as an appointment if that is the alternative route. If the job is first solely that of first team coach, the question really is just is how good a coach Mikel is. Just a few thoughts jotted down really but I guess we will not have to wait too much longer…..