While watching Arsene Wenger’s final home match last weekend this writer was struck by one thing as Arsenal made light work of Burnley.
The Arsenal fans were singing, and not just the usual ‘Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal’ chant they drag out every week, no they were singing proper songs again, and the one that got sung the most was not about the departing Wenger, but about his former captain Patrick Vieira.
At least three times during the match you could hear the fans singing the old Vieira chant, ‘wo-o-o-oh, Vieira wo-o-o-oh, he comes from Senegal, he plays for Arsenal’.
Of course it is not uncommon for fans to still sing about former players, however, for a long time Arsenal fans have remained largely silent when it comes to creating an atmosphere at the Emirates.
The singing for Vieira, a man who has been moderately linked with the role of replacing Arsène Wenger, got this Arsenal fan thinking, that actually Vieira would be the best choice to replace the man who brought him to England back in 1996, with good odds available using Ladbrokes codes.
But why should Vieira, a manager who is only two years into his managerial career take over at one of the biggest clubs in England? Let’s take a look.
It might sound strange but Arsenal are in a better position that Manchester United were when Sir Alex Ferguson left United in 2013.
Ferguson left United as league champions but United were an ageing squad and Ferguson had managed to get one more big season out of the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.
In the years that followed, United with new managers slipped off the incredible consistency that Ferguson had set over the years, something that Man United fans were not use to.
Arsenal fans on the other hand are well use to having slipped off the pace of the top tier Premier League sides, with their position of sixth this season their worst finish since the 1994/95 season.
If Arsenal were to appoint someone like Luis Enrique or Massimiliano Allegri, two coaches who have won multiple league titles over the past few years, expectation that Arsenal would return to former glories immediately would begin, with fans and the press expecting them to challenge for the league title straight away.
If Patrick Vieira was appointed manager, then that expectation would be slightly more subdued. The appointment of Vieira as manager would achieve two things with the Arsenal fans who for so long have been calling for change, it would placate fans, whilst also exciting them.
If Vieira is appointed manager, the fans and press would have more realistic expectations from a younger inexperienced manager, than they would have from the likes of Enquire or Allegri.
Arsène Wenger had built up so much goodwill during his first decade at Arsenal that it wasn’t really until early 2017 that he had finally used it all up and the majority of fans were calling for a change to be made.
Arsenal fans were extremely patient with Wenger due to the success he had brought to the club and ultimately a lot of that goodwill would return if Vieira the man instrumental in the majority of Wenger’s success was to return to the club.
If we may return to Wenger’s final home match against Burnley for a moment, where the Arsenal fans found there voice again and singing about Patrick Vieira as if he was in attendance.
He wasn’t, but one man who was in attendance was owner Stan Kronke, and this singing seemed to be a pointed statement from the Arsenal faithful, suggesting they would like their Invincible captain to return to the club in a different role.
This shows that the Arsenal fans would like to see Vieira back and also they would be willing to give him time to develop a new squad and allow him to implement his philosophies over a longer period of time, something that a more experienced manager may not be given the time to do.
While it was mostly certainly a shock when Arsène Wenger announced he would be stepping down, the appointment of the likes of Raul Sanllehi as head of football operations and Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment earlier this season were sure fire signs that change was coming at Arsenal, sooner rather than later.
Raul Sanllehi will mostly likely become Director of Football once Arsène Wenger is gone, while Mislintat’s role as head of recruitment will mostly likely expand as well.
If Patrick Vieira is to become Arsenal manager then he will be working very closely with these two men. Vieira will learn from the likes of Sanllehi and Mislintat, and the three will most likely work as a unit in running of the club.
One positive thing from the board’s point of view is that if they appoint the inexperienced Vieira to the manager’s position, he is less likely to kick up a fuss and insist on doing things his way, something that an Enrique or Allegri is more likely to do.
The Arsenal board would in a somewhat unique position as they have the opportunity to mould the 41-year-old Vieira into the type of manager they want, whilst exciting fans and also bringing Arsenal into a more modern way of running a football club.
So far we’ve discussed a lot about Patrick Vieira and what his appointment might bring to Arsenal from the boards perspective but also from the fans perspective, whilst not discussing that Vieira as a manager is actually quite good.
Vieira retired from playing in 2011 after helping Manchester City to their first FA Cup in over forty years and picking up his fourth FA Cup winner’s medal.
Immediately after retiring Vieira accepted a youth development role at Manchester City and was given the title of Football Development Executive.
After two years working in the youth setup Vieira was appointed Manchester City’s elite development manager or reserve team manager, in old money.
Vieira had taken to coaching like a duck to water and has been impressing football people with his coaching philosophy.
In May 2015 Vieira was linked with the Newcastle United job, however, after brief discussions, both parties decided that a deal was not possible due to a difference over recruitment and transfer policy.
Then in November 2015 it was announced that Vieira would be taking over as the manager of New York City FC (NYCFC) a club who are part owned by Man City and the New York Yankees.
Many people saw it as a strange move, except for one Arsène Wenger who saw it as a great opportunity for Vieira to garner more experience in management at a lower level away from the media spotlight.
Wenger was right as Vieira has gone on to make NYCFC one of the best teams in the MLS. NYCFC have gone on to make an improvement in each of Vieira’s seasons at the club.
So far this season they sit in second position in the Eastern Conference and third in the overall standings and have been praised by MLS pundits for playing some of the most exciting and impressive football in the MLS.
So will Patrick Vieira actually become Arsenal manager, right now it seems unlikely with Massimiliano Allegri believed to be the front runner to replace Arsène Wenger.
However, if the Arsenal board really wanted to get the fans onside once again, then the appointment of Patrick Vieira has to be the way to go. Besides they wouldn’t even have to learn a new song just change one word in the old one and their away.
We will leave you now with that bit of lyrical genius, wo-o-o-oh, Vieira wo-o-o-oh, he comes from Senegal’, he manages Arsenal’.