Arsenal will be taking a “big, big gamble” with Mikel Arteta, says Paul Merson, with a “clueless” board questioned for turning to a rookie manager whose previous ties to the club appear to be the only thing putting him in the frame.
A move to bring a former captain back to north London appears to be edging closer, with meetings having been held between the Gunners and a Spanish coach currently working as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Many have backed the decision to favour youth over experience, with Arsenal considered to be in need of a fresh approach, but Merson is not convinced that even those with enviable hauls of silverware on their respective CVs could turn things around at Emirates Stadium.
The former Gunners star told Sky Sports of the efforts to bring 37-year-old Arteta on board: “This is a big, big gamble putting someone that has never managed before in charge of a club the size of Arsenal.
“It's all well and good saying he's worked under Pep Guardiola, but let's be honest, Guardiola would struggle managing this Arsenal team. Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp would struggle!
“You're only as good as your players at the end of the day and the idea of Arteta replicating Guardiola's style of football at the Emirates just falls apart when you look at the players he'll be working with.
“It's not as if Arsenal are underachieving, they're just not good enough. Sunday's defeat to Manchester City was embarrassing, cringe-worthy even. I cannot think of a single player Guardiola would take out of this Arsenal team.
“To ask someone with no managerial experience to take charge in the current circumstances at Arsenal is a big ask. But there are also massive question marks over his credentials, massive questions.
“One of the major factors with Arteta being linked with the job is that he's worked closely under Guardiola, and he used to play at Arsenal. Other than the fact he won't get lost on the way to training, I don't know what else he brings to the table.
“We've seen how out of his depth Freddie Ljungberg has been in recent weeks. What's the difference between Ljungberg and Arteta other than the fact Arteta has worked under Pep at Manchester City?”
Merson believes the bid to bring Arteta back to north London is another example of the mismanagement at Arsenal which has them stuck in a rut of one win in 12 games across all competitions.
He added: “Arsenal are in this mess because the people upstairs simply aren't fussed.
“I mean, who's making this appointment? Who believes Arteta is the best appointment possible, one that will really steady the ship? I cannot make the case for Arteta because he's never managed before, yet someone at Arsenal can. How can you do that?
“I want to know who is upstairs at Arsenal saying this is a good appointment. From the club's perspective, it's clueless.”