Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton & Hove Albion slideshow

The defender disclosed that the Seagulls' journey to the top-flight and how they adapted last season was motivating enough for a switch
New signing Leon Balogun reveals inspiration to Brighton and Hove Albion move
The defender disclosed that the Seagulls' journey to the top-flight and how they adapted last season was motivating enough for a switch
The defender disclosed that the Seagulls' journey to the top-flight and how they adapted last season was motivating enough for a switch
New signing Leon Balogun reveals inspiration to Brighton and Hove Albion move
The defender disclosed that the Seagulls' journey to the top-flight and how they adapted last season was motivating enough for a switch
The defender disclosed that the Seagulls' journey to the top-flight and how they adapted last season was motivating enough for a switch
New signing Leon Balogun reveals inspiration to Brighton and Hove Albion move
The defender disclosed that the Seagulls' journey to the top-flight and how they adapted last season was motivating enough for a switch
The Nigeria international becomes the first player to join the Seagulls this summer, bringing an end to his nine-year stint in the German league
Leon Balogun joins English Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion
The Nigeria international becomes the first player to join the Seagulls this summer, bringing an end to his nine-year stint in the German league
Nigeria international Leon Balogun has become the first signing of the 2018-19 season for Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion.
Brighton sign Nigeria international Balogun
Nigeria international Leon Balogun has become the first signing of the 2018-19 season for Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Nigeria international becomes the first player to join the Seagulls this summer, bringing an end to his nine-year stint in the German league
Leon Balogun joins English Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion
The Nigeria international becomes the first player to join the Seagulls this summer, bringing an end to his nine-year stint in the German league
Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - May 13, 2018 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp REUTERS/Phil Noble
Premier League - Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - May 13, 2018 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp REUTERS/Phil Noble
There was a pang of regret in, post-match, reading Jesse Lingard’s assessment of his friend and Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford. “He’s young and he can be anything he wants to be,” Lingard commented in the FA Cup Final match programme as he gave the run down on the squad. “He might not have played as much as he would have liked to this season but when he has played or when he’s come on, he’s made an impact.” Both Rashford and Lingard – who England manager Gareth Southgate joked last week are so close that they almost walk around hand-in-hand – were hauled off together before the end of United’s defeat to Chelsea. Both looked dispirited; beaten and deserved the hook. The concern for United and, with a World Cup looming, for England is that while Lingard has flourished under Jose Mourinho the same cannot be said of Rashford who appears bereft of touch, confidence and that refreshing vigour and exciting belief he brought to the team when he made his break-through. Rashford’s style simply does not appear to suit Mourinho and Southgate has work to do ahead of Russia. Lingard alluded to the fact that Rashford has not played as much as he has wanted to but there have been 35 Premier League appearances by him this season, including 17 starts. But such has been the sense of marginalisation under Mourinho that it feels like he has been pushed out to the edges which is where he instinctively, and largely unproductively, headed on the Wembley pitch as he failed to be the target man. Rashford was one of United’s brightest stars when Mourinho arrived. He was a local player who brought renewed pride in United’s ability to develop talent during a tricky time for the club. It was said that a test of the suitability of the new manager was how he dealt with Rashford. Jose Mourinho's tough love treatment of Marcus Rashford has not helped him flourish Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mourinho was so aware of the accusation that he was untrusting of young players that he even produced an unconvincing list at his first press conference of those he had nurtured (it included Arjen Robben who was already a full Holland international). There have been murmurings that Rashford has not been happy at United this season, that he may even want out, and he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders at Wembley where he appeared a Lukaku-lite, asked to be the battering ram centre-forward that Mourinho prefers in the absence of the Belgium international who the manager later suggested had absented himself from starting this match. Another United player thrown under the bus by the belligerent manager? Of course Rashford has to take responsibility for his own performances, despite his youth, such is the 20-year-old’s ability and his reputation. But was it also really necessary for Mourinho to be so obviously critical of him as he was following the recent defeat away to Brighton? Rashford was not named but it was clear who Mourinho meant when he said: “The players that replaced others did not perform at a good level and when individuals do that it is difficult for the team to play well. Maybe now you will not ask me why A, B and C do not play so much.” Was that really worth it for Mourinho? What purpose did it serve? It did not seem helpful here. Rashford lacked support and it showed and criticism of United’s performance should concentrate on their big names: Alexis Sanchez and, until he woke up in the second-half, Paul Pogba and Mourinho’s unwillingness to adapt to help his young striker. Rashford is not Lukaku so when the manager later said “I knew that without a target man it would be difficult for us” he should take responsibility. Maybe Sanchez should have played through the middle because it is a role that is asking a lot of Rashford even if he craves it. When Rashford mis-hit an attempted pass Mourinho reacted furiously and this kind of stuff transmits itself out on the pitch where United feel inhibited, shackled and unable to play with any sense of risk or creativity. Antonio Conte knew it, also. His trap was set and United did not have the guile to side-step it. Mourinho complained that he was facing a “team so predictable it is easy to adapt to it”. But that betrayed a remarkable lack of self-awareness. It was so easy? So what did he fall into that trap. He knew Eden Hazard could be the match-winner but he could not stifle him during a first-half in which the forward drew a fine save from David De Gea and then won and converted the penalty that made the difference as he embarrassed Phil Jones. And embarrassed Mourinho. FA Cup final player ratings After half-time United were far better and far more urgent, as they have been in second-halves this season, but why did not they try and capitalise on Chelsea’s uncertainty and the expectation that this would be Conte’s last game in charge to press home the advantage they appeared to have? There are so many questions to answer for Mourinho who haughtily dismissed any criticism. Once in front Chelsea defended superbly; it was something of a masterclass. They defended in a way that Mourinho would have done with outstanding performances from Antonio Rudiger and the resurgent Gary Cahill and the midfield shield of N’Golo Kante. And they deserved this victory despite opportunities being spurned by Pogba, with a header, and Rashford with a shot which was parried by Thibaut Courtois while Sanchez had a ‘goal’ correctly ruled out for offside. Mourinho said Chelsea had no chances but Marcos Alonso probably wasted the best one of all because he did not trust his right-foot. And so it was the first time that Mourinho had lost a domestic cup final in England and the first that Conte had won. Ever. One manager is, more than likely going, and the other will stay. But whatever the constructs and arguments this has not been a good season for Mourinho and not least for the way Rashford has failed to progress under him.
Marcus Rashford has lost his spark under Jose Mourinho's management
There was a pang of regret in, post-match, reading Jesse Lingard’s assessment of his friend and Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford. “He’s young and he can be anything he wants to be,” Lingard commented in the FA Cup Final match programme as he gave the run down on the squad. “He might not have played as much as he would have liked to this season but when he has played or when he’s come on, he’s made an impact.” Both Rashford and Lingard – who England manager Gareth Southgate joked last week are so close that they almost walk around hand-in-hand – were hauled off together before the end of United’s defeat to Chelsea. Both looked dispirited; beaten and deserved the hook. The concern for United and, with a World Cup looming, for England is that while Lingard has flourished under Jose Mourinho the same cannot be said of Rashford who appears bereft of touch, confidence and that refreshing vigour and exciting belief he brought to the team when he made his break-through. Rashford’s style simply does not appear to suit Mourinho and Southgate has work to do ahead of Russia. Lingard alluded to the fact that Rashford has not played as much as he has wanted to but there have been 35 Premier League appearances by him this season, including 17 starts. But such has been the sense of marginalisation under Mourinho that it feels like he has been pushed out to the edges which is where he instinctively, and largely unproductively, headed on the Wembley pitch as he failed to be the target man. Rashford was one of United’s brightest stars when Mourinho arrived. He was a local player who brought renewed pride in United’s ability to develop talent during a tricky time for the club. It was said that a test of the suitability of the new manager was how he dealt with Rashford. Jose Mourinho's tough love treatment of Marcus Rashford has not helped him flourish Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mourinho was so aware of the accusation that he was untrusting of young players that he even produced an unconvincing list at his first press conference of those he had nurtured (it included Arjen Robben who was already a full Holland international). There have been murmurings that Rashford has not been happy at United this season, that he may even want out, and he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders at Wembley where he appeared a Lukaku-lite, asked to be the battering ram centre-forward that Mourinho prefers in the absence of the Belgium international who the manager later suggested had absented himself from starting this match. Another United player thrown under the bus by the belligerent manager? Of course Rashford has to take responsibility for his own performances, despite his youth, such is the 20-year-old’s ability and his reputation. But was it also really necessary for Mourinho to be so obviously critical of him as he was following the recent defeat away to Brighton? Rashford was not named but it was clear who Mourinho meant when he said: “The players that replaced others did not perform at a good level and when individuals do that it is difficult for the team to play well. Maybe now you will not ask me why A, B and C do not play so much.” Was that really worth it for Mourinho? What purpose did it serve? It did not seem helpful here. Rashford lacked support and it showed and criticism of United’s performance should concentrate on their big names: Alexis Sanchez and, until he woke up in the second-half, Paul Pogba and Mourinho’s unwillingness to adapt to help his young striker. Rashford is not Lukaku so when the manager later said “I knew that without a target man it would be difficult for us” he should take responsibility. Maybe Sanchez should have played through the middle because it is a role that is asking a lot of Rashford even if he craves it. When Rashford mis-hit an attempted pass Mourinho reacted furiously and this kind of stuff transmits itself out on the pitch where United feel inhibited, shackled and unable to play with any sense of risk or creativity. Antonio Conte knew it, also. His trap was set and United did not have the guile to side-step it. Mourinho complained that he was facing a “team so predictable it is easy to adapt to it”. But that betrayed a remarkable lack of self-awareness. It was so easy? So what did he fall into that trap. He knew Eden Hazard could be the match-winner but he could not stifle him during a first-half in which the forward drew a fine save from David De Gea and then won and converted the penalty that made the difference as he embarrassed Phil Jones. And embarrassed Mourinho. FA Cup final player ratings After half-time United were far better and far more urgent, as they have been in second-halves this season, but why did not they try and capitalise on Chelsea’s uncertainty and the expectation that this would be Conte’s last game in charge to press home the advantage they appeared to have? There are so many questions to answer for Mourinho who haughtily dismissed any criticism. Once in front Chelsea defended superbly; it was something of a masterclass. They defended in a way that Mourinho would have done with outstanding performances from Antonio Rudiger and the resurgent Gary Cahill and the midfield shield of N’Golo Kante. And they deserved this victory despite opportunities being spurned by Pogba, with a header, and Rashford with a shot which was parried by Thibaut Courtois while Sanchez had a ‘goal’ correctly ruled out for offside. Mourinho said Chelsea had no chances but Marcos Alonso probably wasted the best one of all because he did not trust his right-foot. And so it was the first time that Mourinho had lost a domestic cup final in England and the first that Conte had won. Ever. One manager is, more than likely going, and the other will stay. But whatever the constructs and arguments this has not been a good season for Mourinho and not least for the way Rashford has failed to progress under him.
There was a pang of regret in, post-match, reading Jesse Lingard’s assessment of his friend and Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford. “He’s young and he can be anything he wants to be,” Lingard commented in the FA Cup Final match programme as he gave the run down on the squad. “He might not have played as much as he would have liked to this season but when he has played or when he’s come on, he’s made an impact.” Both Rashford and Lingard – who England manager Gareth Southgate joked last week are so close that they almost walk around hand-in-hand – were hauled off together before the end of United’s defeat to Chelsea. Both looked dispirited; beaten and deserved the hook. The concern for United and, with a World Cup looming, for England is that while Lingard has flourished under Jose Mourinho the same cannot be said of Rashford who appears bereft of touch, confidence and that refreshing vigour and exciting belief he brought to the team when he made his break-through. Rashford’s style simply does not appear to suit Mourinho and Southgate has work to do ahead of Russia. Lingard alluded to the fact that Rashford has not played as much as he has wanted to but there have been 35 Premier League appearances by him this season, including 17 starts. But such has been the sense of marginalisation under Mourinho that it feels like he has been pushed out to the edges which is where he instinctively, and largely unproductively, headed on the Wembley pitch as he failed to be the target man. Rashford was one of United’s brightest stars when Mourinho arrived. He was a local player who brought renewed pride in United’s ability to develop talent during a tricky time for the club. It was said that a test of the suitability of the new manager was how he dealt with Rashford. Jose Mourinho's tough love treatment of Marcus Rashford has not helped him flourish Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mourinho was so aware of the accusation that he was untrusting of young players that he even produced an unconvincing list at his first press conference of those he had nurtured (it included Arjen Robben who was already a full Holland international). There have been murmurings that Rashford has not been happy at United this season, that he may even want out, and he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders at Wembley where he appeared a Lukaku-lite, asked to be the battering ram centre-forward that Mourinho prefers in the absence of the Belgium international who the manager later suggested had absented himself from starting this match. Another United player thrown under the bus by the belligerent manager? Of course Rashford has to take responsibility for his own performances, despite his youth, such is the 20-year-old’s ability and his reputation. But was it also really necessary for Mourinho to be so obviously critical of him as he was following the recent defeat away to Brighton? Rashford was not named but it was clear who Mourinho meant when he said: “The players that replaced others did not perform at a good level and when individuals do that it is difficult for the team to play well. Maybe now you will not ask me why A, B and C do not play so much.” Was that really worth it for Mourinho? What purpose did it serve? It did not seem helpful here. Rashford lacked support and it showed and criticism of United’s performance should concentrate on their big names: Alexis Sanchez and, until he woke up in the second-half, Paul Pogba and Mourinho’s unwillingness to adapt to help his young striker. Rashford is not Lukaku so when the manager later said “I knew that without a target man it would be difficult for us” he should take responsibility. Maybe Sanchez should have played through the middle because it is a role that is asking a lot of Rashford even if he craves it. When Rashford mis-hit an attempted pass Mourinho reacted furiously and this kind of stuff transmits itself out on the pitch where United feel inhibited, shackled and unable to play with any sense of risk or creativity. Antonio Conte knew it, also. His trap was set and United did not have the guile to side-step it. Mourinho complained that he was facing a “team so predictable it is easy to adapt to it”. But that betrayed a remarkable lack of self-awareness. It was so easy? So what did he fall into that trap. He knew Eden Hazard could be the match-winner but he could not stifle him during a first-half in which the forward drew a fine save from David De Gea and then won and converted the penalty that made the difference as he embarrassed Phil Jones. And embarrassed Mourinho. FA Cup final player ratings After half-time United were far better and far more urgent, as they have been in second-halves this season, but why did not they try and capitalise on Chelsea’s uncertainty and the expectation that this would be Conte’s last game in charge to press home the advantage they appeared to have? There are so many questions to answer for Mourinho who haughtily dismissed any criticism. Once in front Chelsea defended superbly; it was something of a masterclass. They defended in a way that Mourinho would have done with outstanding performances from Antonio Rudiger and the resurgent Gary Cahill and the midfield shield of N’Golo Kante. And they deserved this victory despite opportunities being spurned by Pogba, with a header, and Rashford with a shot which was parried by Thibaut Courtois while Sanchez had a ‘goal’ correctly ruled out for offside. Mourinho said Chelsea had no chances but Marcos Alonso probably wasted the best one of all because he did not trust his right-foot. And so it was the first time that Mourinho had lost a domestic cup final in England and the first that Conte had won. Ever. One manager is, more than likely going, and the other will stay. But whatever the constructs and arguments this has not been a good season for Mourinho and not least for the way Rashford has failed to progress under him.
Marcus Rashford has lost his spark under Jose Mourinho's management
There was a pang of regret in, post-match, reading Jesse Lingard’s assessment of his friend and Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford. “He’s young and he can be anything he wants to be,” Lingard commented in the FA Cup Final match programme as he gave the run down on the squad. “He might not have played as much as he would have liked to this season but when he has played or when he’s come on, he’s made an impact.” Both Rashford and Lingard – who England manager Gareth Southgate joked last week are so close that they almost walk around hand-in-hand – were hauled off together before the end of United’s defeat to Chelsea. Both looked dispirited; beaten and deserved the hook. The concern for United and, with a World Cup looming, for England is that while Lingard has flourished under Jose Mourinho the same cannot be said of Rashford who appears bereft of touch, confidence and that refreshing vigour and exciting belief he brought to the team when he made his break-through. Rashford’s style simply does not appear to suit Mourinho and Southgate has work to do ahead of Russia. Lingard alluded to the fact that Rashford has not played as much as he has wanted to but there have been 35 Premier League appearances by him this season, including 17 starts. But such has been the sense of marginalisation under Mourinho that it feels like he has been pushed out to the edges which is where he instinctively, and largely unproductively, headed on the Wembley pitch as he failed to be the target man. Rashford was one of United’s brightest stars when Mourinho arrived. He was a local player who brought renewed pride in United’s ability to develop talent during a tricky time for the club. It was said that a test of the suitability of the new manager was how he dealt with Rashford. Jose Mourinho's tough love treatment of Marcus Rashford has not helped him flourish Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mourinho was so aware of the accusation that he was untrusting of young players that he even produced an unconvincing list at his first press conference of those he had nurtured (it included Arjen Robben who was already a full Holland international). There have been murmurings that Rashford has not been happy at United this season, that he may even want out, and he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders at Wembley where he appeared a Lukaku-lite, asked to be the battering ram centre-forward that Mourinho prefers in the absence of the Belgium international who the manager later suggested had absented himself from starting this match. Another United player thrown under the bus by the belligerent manager? Of course Rashford has to take responsibility for his own performances, despite his youth, such is the 20-year-old’s ability and his reputation. But was it also really necessary for Mourinho to be so obviously critical of him as he was following the recent defeat away to Brighton? Rashford was not named but it was clear who Mourinho meant when he said: “The players that replaced others did not perform at a good level and when individuals do that it is difficult for the team to play well. Maybe now you will not ask me why A, B and C do not play so much.” Was that really worth it for Mourinho? What purpose did it serve? It did not seem helpful here. Rashford lacked support and it showed and criticism of United’s performance should concentrate on their big names: Alexis Sanchez and, until he woke up in the second-half, Paul Pogba and Mourinho’s unwillingness to adapt to help his young striker. Rashford is not Lukaku so when the manager later said “I knew that without a target man it would be difficult for us” he should take responsibility. Maybe Sanchez should have played through the middle because it is a role that is asking a lot of Rashford even if he craves it. When Rashford mis-hit an attempted pass Mourinho reacted furiously and this kind of stuff transmits itself out on the pitch where United feel inhibited, shackled and unable to play with any sense of risk or creativity. Antonio Conte knew it, also. His trap was set and United did not have the guile to side-step it. Mourinho complained that he was facing a “team so predictable it is easy to adapt to it”. But that betrayed a remarkable lack of self-awareness. It was so easy? So what did he fall into that trap. He knew Eden Hazard could be the match-winner but he could not stifle him during a first-half in which the forward drew a fine save from David De Gea and then won and converted the penalty that made the difference as he embarrassed Phil Jones. And embarrassed Mourinho. FA Cup final player ratings After half-time United were far better and far more urgent, as they have been in second-halves this season, but why did not they try and capitalise on Chelsea’s uncertainty and the expectation that this would be Conte’s last game in charge to press home the advantage they appeared to have? There are so many questions to answer for Mourinho who haughtily dismissed any criticism. Once in front Chelsea defended superbly; it was something of a masterclass. They defended in a way that Mourinho would have done with outstanding performances from Antonio Rudiger and the resurgent Gary Cahill and the midfield shield of N’Golo Kante. And they deserved this victory despite opportunities being spurned by Pogba, with a header, and Rashford with a shot which was parried by Thibaut Courtois while Sanchez had a ‘goal’ correctly ruled out for offside. Mourinho said Chelsea had no chances but Marcos Alonso probably wasted the best one of all because he did not trust his right-foot. And so it was the first time that Mourinho had lost a domestic cup final in England and the first that Conte had won. Ever. One manager is, more than likely going, and the other will stay. But whatever the constructs and arguments this has not been a good season for Mourinho and not least for the way Rashford has failed to progress under him.
Wembley united to pay tribute to Ray Wilkins during the FA Cup Final, as two of his former clubs battled it out for the domestic season's last piece of silverware. Wilkins, who played for Chelsea and Manchester United in a distinguished career, died of a heart attack last month at the age of 61. Wilkins wore the No.8 shirt for both clubs and Wembley was the scene of one of his most celebrated goals - a curling shot from distance for United against Brighton in the 1983 FA Cup final. There were banners at both the red and blue ends of Wembley to honour Wilkins, who won 84 England caps. In a nod to his shirt number both sets of supporters sang 'there's only one Ray Wilkins' in the eighth minute of the final. There was also a tribute to the man known as 'Butch' in the matchday programme. The England midfielder also won the Cup three times as a coach at Chelsea, including alongside Carlo Ancelotti as part of a domestic Double in 2010. His family were invited to spend the day in Wembley's Royal Box with widow Jackie presenting the trophy to the winning captain. Wilkins' son Ross said: “The FA invited us into the Royal Box. It is an amazing thing to do. It will be an extremely emotional day, given the teams and history, but to effectively hold it in Dad’s memory is unreal. Ray Wilkins scored a stunning goal for Man Utd in the 1983 final Credit: Getty Images “It is one of the biggest sporting events globally but it will be doubled with emotion and I think that will probably take over. That mum is being allowed to present the trophy is just phenomenal. It is a lovely gesture from the FA.” In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, former Chelsea manager Eddie McCreadie recalled handing Wilkins the Chelsea armband at the age of 18. “Butch was a player I wanted to rebuild the team around,” said McGreadie. “I remember when I told him he was to be my captain, him saying to me: ‘You think I can do it?’ I never had a moment’s doubt.” A Chelsea legends XI played an exhibition match in Wilkins' memory against an Inter legends team at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
Wembley pays tribute to Ray Wilkins as Chelsea and Manchester United fans unite
Wembley united to pay tribute to Ray Wilkins during the FA Cup Final, as two of his former clubs battled it out for the domestic season's last piece of silverware. Wilkins, who played for Chelsea and Manchester United in a distinguished career, died of a heart attack last month at the age of 61. Wilkins wore the No.8 shirt for both clubs and Wembley was the scene of one of his most celebrated goals - a curling shot from distance for United against Brighton in the 1983 FA Cup final. There were banners at both the red and blue ends of Wembley to honour Wilkins, who won 84 England caps. In a nod to his shirt number both sets of supporters sang 'there's only one Ray Wilkins' in the eighth minute of the final. There was also a tribute to the man known as 'Butch' in the matchday programme. The England midfielder also won the Cup three times as a coach at Chelsea, including alongside Carlo Ancelotti as part of a domestic Double in 2010. His family were invited to spend the day in Wembley's Royal Box with widow Jackie presenting the trophy to the winning captain. Wilkins' son Ross said: “The FA invited us into the Royal Box. It is an amazing thing to do. It will be an extremely emotional day, given the teams and history, but to effectively hold it in Dad’s memory is unreal. Ray Wilkins scored a stunning goal for Man Utd in the 1983 final Credit: Getty Images “It is one of the biggest sporting events globally but it will be doubled with emotion and I think that will probably take over. That mum is being allowed to present the trophy is just phenomenal. It is a lovely gesture from the FA.” In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, former Chelsea manager Eddie McCreadie recalled handing Wilkins the Chelsea armband at the age of 18. “Butch was a player I wanted to rebuild the team around,” said McGreadie. “I remember when I told him he was to be my captain, him saying to me: ‘You think I can do it?’ I never had a moment’s doubt.” A Chelsea legends XI played an exhibition match in Wilkins' memory against an Inter legends team at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
Wembley united to pay tribute to Ray Wilkins during the FA Cup Final, as two of his former clubs battled it out for the domestic season's last piece of silverware. Wilkins, who played for Chelsea and Manchester United in a distinguished career, died of a heart attack last month at the age of 61. Wilkins wore the No.8 shirt for both clubs and Wembley was the scene of one of his most celebrated goals - a curling shot from distance for United against Brighton in the 1983 FA Cup final. There were banners at both the red and blue ends of Wembley to honour Wilkins, who won 84 England caps. In a nod to his shirt number both sets of supporters sang 'there's only one Ray Wilkins' in the eighth minute of the final. There was also a tribute to the man known as 'Butch' in the matchday programme. The England midfielder also won the Cup three times as a coach at Chelsea, including alongside Carlo Ancelotti as part of a domestic Double in 2010. His family were invited to spend the day in Wembley's Royal Box with widow Jackie presenting the trophy to the winning captain. Wilkins' son Ross said: “The FA invited us into the Royal Box. It is an amazing thing to do. It will be an extremely emotional day, given the teams and history, but to effectively hold it in Dad’s memory is unreal. Ray Wilkins scored a stunning goal for Man Utd in the 1983 final Credit: Getty Images “It is one of the biggest sporting events globally but it will be doubled with emotion and I think that will probably take over. That mum is being allowed to present the trophy is just phenomenal. It is a lovely gesture from the FA.” In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, former Chelsea manager Eddie McCreadie recalled handing Wilkins the Chelsea armband at the age of 18. “Butch was a player I wanted to rebuild the team around,” said McGreadie. “I remember when I told him he was to be my captain, him saying to me: ‘You think I can do it?’ I never had a moment’s doubt.” A Chelsea legends XI played an exhibition match in Wilkins' memory against an Inter legends team at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
Wembley pays tribute to Ray Wilkins as Chelsea and Manchester United fans unite
Wembley united to pay tribute to Ray Wilkins during the FA Cup Final, as two of his former clubs battled it out for the domestic season's last piece of silverware. Wilkins, who played for Chelsea and Manchester United in a distinguished career, died of a heart attack last month at the age of 61. Wilkins wore the No.8 shirt for both clubs and Wembley was the scene of one of his most celebrated goals - a curling shot from distance for United against Brighton in the 1983 FA Cup final. There were banners at both the red and blue ends of Wembley to honour Wilkins, who won 84 England caps. In a nod to his shirt number both sets of supporters sang 'there's only one Ray Wilkins' in the eighth minute of the final. There was also a tribute to the man known as 'Butch' in the matchday programme. The England midfielder also won the Cup three times as a coach at Chelsea, including alongside Carlo Ancelotti as part of a domestic Double in 2010. His family were invited to spend the day in Wembley's Royal Box with widow Jackie presenting the trophy to the winning captain. Wilkins' son Ross said: “The FA invited us into the Royal Box. It is an amazing thing to do. It will be an extremely emotional day, given the teams and history, but to effectively hold it in Dad’s memory is unreal. Ray Wilkins scored a stunning goal for Man Utd in the 1983 final Credit: Getty Images “It is one of the biggest sporting events globally but it will be doubled with emotion and I think that will probably take over. That mum is being allowed to present the trophy is just phenomenal. It is a lovely gesture from the FA.” In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, former Chelsea manager Eddie McCreadie recalled handing Wilkins the Chelsea armband at the age of 18. “Butch was a player I wanted to rebuild the team around,” said McGreadie. “I remember when I told him he was to be my captain, him saying to me: ‘You think I can do it?’ I never had a moment’s doubt.” A Chelsea legends XI played an exhibition match in Wilkins' memory against an Inter legends team at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
Newcastle United are confident they will not face any sanctions from the Football League despite recording losses of more than £90m on their way to winning the Championship title a year ago. The EFL have confirmed to Telegraph Sport that Newcastle are not under investigation for breaching financial fair play rules at this stage, but the scale of the losses illustrate how vital it was that manager Rafael Benitez led the Magpies to an instant return to the Premier League. Telegraph Sport understands that, had Newcastle not spent only one year in the second tier, they would have had to dramatically cut costs at St James’ Park in order to comply with FFP, with several of the biggest earners put up for sale in order to slash the wage bill. Although Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been criticised for failing to allow Benitez to spend more money in the last three transfer windows, the figures released by the club make toe-curling reading and offer some context for the reluctance to sanction a more extravagant recruitment policy last season. Newcastle received around £50m in Premier League television money in July last year and another £50m at the end of January, when the winter window was about to shut. Premier League club-by-club review Having made a profit of £900,000 in the year they were relegated from the top flight, Newcastle lost a staggering £90.9m for the financial year that ended with their promotion from the Championship. Ashley, who invested another £15m in the club in the form of an interest-free loan to help cover the cost of relegation, took a huge risk allowing Newcastle to lose so much money, effectively operating a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier. Despite the sale of players like Georgino Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko after losing their top-flight status, which helped enable Benitez to sign 12 new players in 2017, Newcastle’s wage bill rose £37.5m to £112.2m in the Championship. That is the largest wage bill ever recorded in the Championship, while turnover declined by roughly a third from £125.8m to £85.7m. Newcastle’s losses, after tax, were £41.3m, down from a £4.6m profit the previous year. In an official club statement accompanying the filing of the club’s accounts on Friday, managing director Lee Charnley said: “After an, at times, challenging season in the Championship, everyone with the club was delighted when, with two league games remaining, we secured automatic promotion. Newcastle operated a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier Credit: Getty Images “Even taking into consideration the fantastic levels of support during our Championship season, such is the disparity in central broadcasting and commercial revenues between the Premier League and EFL, we are reporting a drop in annual income of almost one third. “An immediate return to the Premier League was vital to restore the financial stability and future prospects of the club. “With the support and backing of the owner we took what was, in essence, a financial gamble on securing immediate promotion. “Statistics show how difficult this has been to achieve in recent times, with only five of the 18 teams relegated over the previous six seasons having come straight back up (one via automatic promotion and four via the play-offs). “We were the only relegated club to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League.” Newcastle’s wage bill in 2016/17 was almost three times that of Brighton and Hove Albion (£40.4m), and close to six times that of Huddersfield Town (£21.7m), the other two promoted sides. The 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18 However, that figure includes the bonuses paid to players, management and staff, after promotion was secured, which totalled almost £10m. The wage bill sums are also massaged by the fact they include £30m of payments to players no longer involved in the first-team squad, taking them up to the end of their contracts, rather than for the financial year. Although Newcastle received large sums for Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Florian Thauvin, which eased the financial stress, they are being paid in instalments rather than up front. Ashley, though, has always preferred to pay for players in one lump sum. Newcastle are currently locked in negotiations with manager Benitez over the size of his transfer budget this summer, with the Spaniard increasingly exasperated by the lack of clarity offered to him. The club are also keen to get him to sign a new contract, which he is reluctant to do until he sees proof Ashley is willing to back him in the transfer market this summer after three frustrating windows in which he feels promises made to him were broken.
Newcastle United were on brink of financial catastrophe before promotion back to Premier League
Newcastle United are confident they will not face any sanctions from the Football League despite recording losses of more than £90m on their way to winning the Championship title a year ago. The EFL have confirmed to Telegraph Sport that Newcastle are not under investigation for breaching financial fair play rules at this stage, but the scale of the losses illustrate how vital it was that manager Rafael Benitez led the Magpies to an instant return to the Premier League. Telegraph Sport understands that, had Newcastle not spent only one year in the second tier, they would have had to dramatically cut costs at St James’ Park in order to comply with FFP, with several of the biggest earners put up for sale in order to slash the wage bill. Although Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been criticised for failing to allow Benitez to spend more money in the last three transfer windows, the figures released by the club make toe-curling reading and offer some context for the reluctance to sanction a more extravagant recruitment policy last season. Newcastle received around £50m in Premier League television money in July last year and another £50m at the end of January, when the winter window was about to shut. Premier League club-by-club review Having made a profit of £900,000 in the year they were relegated from the top flight, Newcastle lost a staggering £90.9m for the financial year that ended with their promotion from the Championship. Ashley, who invested another £15m in the club in the form of an interest-free loan to help cover the cost of relegation, took a huge risk allowing Newcastle to lose so much money, effectively operating a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier. Despite the sale of players like Georgino Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko after losing their top-flight status, which helped enable Benitez to sign 12 new players in 2017, Newcastle’s wage bill rose £37.5m to £112.2m in the Championship. That is the largest wage bill ever recorded in the Championship, while turnover declined by roughly a third from £125.8m to £85.7m. Newcastle’s losses, after tax, were £41.3m, down from a £4.6m profit the previous year. In an official club statement accompanying the filing of the club’s accounts on Friday, managing director Lee Charnley said: “After an, at times, challenging season in the Championship, everyone with the club was delighted when, with two league games remaining, we secured automatic promotion. Newcastle operated a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier Credit: Getty Images “Even taking into consideration the fantastic levels of support during our Championship season, such is the disparity in central broadcasting and commercial revenues between the Premier League and EFL, we are reporting a drop in annual income of almost one third. “An immediate return to the Premier League was vital to restore the financial stability and future prospects of the club. “With the support and backing of the owner we took what was, in essence, a financial gamble on securing immediate promotion. “Statistics show how difficult this has been to achieve in recent times, with only five of the 18 teams relegated over the previous six seasons having come straight back up (one via automatic promotion and four via the play-offs). “We were the only relegated club to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League.” Newcastle’s wage bill in 2016/17 was almost three times that of Brighton and Hove Albion (£40.4m), and close to six times that of Huddersfield Town (£21.7m), the other two promoted sides. The 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18 However, that figure includes the bonuses paid to players, management and staff, after promotion was secured, which totalled almost £10m. The wage bill sums are also massaged by the fact they include £30m of payments to players no longer involved in the first-team squad, taking them up to the end of their contracts, rather than for the financial year. Although Newcastle received large sums for Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Florian Thauvin, which eased the financial stress, they are being paid in instalments rather than up front. Ashley, though, has always preferred to pay for players in one lump sum. Newcastle are currently locked in negotiations with manager Benitez over the size of his transfer budget this summer, with the Spaniard increasingly exasperated by the lack of clarity offered to him. The club are also keen to get him to sign a new contract, which he is reluctant to do until he sees proof Ashley is willing to back him in the transfer market this summer after three frustrating windows in which he feels promises made to him were broken.
Newcastle United are confident they will not face any sanctions from the Football League despite recording losses of more than £90m on their way to winning the Championship title a year ago. The EFL have confirmed to Telegraph Sport that Newcastle are not under investigation for breaching financial fair play rules at this stage, but the scale of the losses illustrate how vital it was that manager Rafael Benitez led the Magpies to an instant return to the Premier League. Telegraph Sport understands that, had Newcastle not spent only one year in the second tier, they would have had to dramatically cut costs at St James’ Park in order to comply with FFP, with several of the biggest earners put up for sale in order to slash the wage bill. Although Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been criticised for failing to allow Benitez to spend more money in the last three transfer windows, the figures released by the club make toe-curling reading and offer some context for the reluctance to sanction a more extravagant recruitment policy last season. Newcastle received around £50m in Premier League television money in July last year and another £50m at the end of January, when the winter window was about to shut. Premier League club-by-club review Having made a profit of £900,000 in the year they were relegated from the top flight, Newcastle lost a staggering £90.9m for the financial year that ended with their promotion from the Championship. Ashley, who invested another £15m in the club in the form of an interest-free loan to help cover the cost of relegation, took a huge risk allowing Newcastle to lose so much money, effectively operating a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier. Despite the sale of players like Georgino Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko after losing their top-flight status, which helped enable Benitez to sign 12 new players in 2017, Newcastle’s wage bill rose £37.5m to £112.2m in the Championship. That is the largest wage bill ever recorded in the Championship, while turnover declined by roughly a third from £125.8m to £85.7m. Newcastle’s losses, after tax, were £41.3m, down from a £4.6m profit the previous year. In an official club statement accompanying the filing of the club’s accounts on Friday, managing director Lee Charnley said: “After an, at times, challenging season in the Championship, everyone with the club was delighted when, with two league games remaining, we secured automatic promotion. Newcastle operated a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier Credit: Getty Images “Even taking into consideration the fantastic levels of support during our Championship season, such is the disparity in central broadcasting and commercial revenues between the Premier League and EFL, we are reporting a drop in annual income of almost one third. “An immediate return to the Premier League was vital to restore the financial stability and future prospects of the club. “With the support and backing of the owner we took what was, in essence, a financial gamble on securing immediate promotion. “Statistics show how difficult this has been to achieve in recent times, with only five of the 18 teams relegated over the previous six seasons having come straight back up (one via automatic promotion and four via the play-offs). “We were the only relegated club to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League.” Newcastle’s wage bill in 2016/17 was almost three times that of Brighton and Hove Albion (£40.4m), and close to six times that of Huddersfield Town (£21.7m), the other two promoted sides. The 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18 However, that figure includes the bonuses paid to players, management and staff, after promotion was secured, which totalled almost £10m. The wage bill sums are also massaged by the fact they include £30m of payments to players no longer involved in the first-team squad, taking them up to the end of their contracts, rather than for the financial year. Although Newcastle received large sums for Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Florian Thauvin, which eased the financial stress, they are being paid in instalments rather than up front. Ashley, though, has always preferred to pay for players in one lump sum. Newcastle are currently locked in negotiations with manager Benitez over the size of his transfer budget this summer, with the Spaniard increasingly exasperated by the lack of clarity offered to him. The club are also keen to get him to sign a new contract, which he is reluctant to do until he sees proof Ashley is willing to back him in the transfer market this summer after three frustrating windows in which he feels promises made to him were broken.
Newcastle United were on brink of financial catastrophe before promotion back to Premier League
Newcastle United are confident they will not face any sanctions from the Football League despite recording losses of more than £90m on their way to winning the Championship title a year ago. The EFL have confirmed to Telegraph Sport that Newcastle are not under investigation for breaching financial fair play rules at this stage, but the scale of the losses illustrate how vital it was that manager Rafael Benitez led the Magpies to an instant return to the Premier League. Telegraph Sport understands that, had Newcastle not spent only one year in the second tier, they would have had to dramatically cut costs at St James’ Park in order to comply with FFP, with several of the biggest earners put up for sale in order to slash the wage bill. Although Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been criticised for failing to allow Benitez to spend more money in the last three transfer windows, the figures released by the club make toe-curling reading and offer some context for the reluctance to sanction a more extravagant recruitment policy last season. Newcastle received around £50m in Premier League television money in July last year and another £50m at the end of January, when the winter window was about to shut. Premier League club-by-club review Having made a profit of £900,000 in the year they were relegated from the top flight, Newcastle lost a staggering £90.9m for the financial year that ended with their promotion from the Championship. Ashley, who invested another £15m in the club in the form of an interest-free loan to help cover the cost of relegation, took a huge risk allowing Newcastle to lose so much money, effectively operating a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier. Despite the sale of players like Georgino Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko after losing their top-flight status, which helped enable Benitez to sign 12 new players in 2017, Newcastle’s wage bill rose £37.5m to £112.2m in the Championship. That is the largest wage bill ever recorded in the Championship, while turnover declined by roughly a third from £125.8m to £85.7m. Newcastle’s losses, after tax, were £41.3m, down from a £4.6m profit the previous year. In an official club statement accompanying the filing of the club’s accounts on Friday, managing director Lee Charnley said: “After an, at times, challenging season in the Championship, everyone with the club was delighted when, with two league games remaining, we secured automatic promotion. Newcastle operated a mid-table Premier League wage bill in the second tier Credit: Getty Images “Even taking into consideration the fantastic levels of support during our Championship season, such is the disparity in central broadcasting and commercial revenues between the Premier League and EFL, we are reporting a drop in annual income of almost one third. “An immediate return to the Premier League was vital to restore the financial stability and future prospects of the club. “With the support and backing of the owner we took what was, in essence, a financial gamble on securing immediate promotion. “Statistics show how difficult this has been to achieve in recent times, with only five of the 18 teams relegated over the previous six seasons having come straight back up (one via automatic promotion and four via the play-offs). “We were the only relegated club to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League.” Newcastle’s wage bill in 2016/17 was almost three times that of Brighton and Hove Albion (£40.4m), and close to six times that of Huddersfield Town (£21.7m), the other two promoted sides. The 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18 However, that figure includes the bonuses paid to players, management and staff, after promotion was secured, which totalled almost £10m. The wage bill sums are also massaged by the fact they include £30m of payments to players no longer involved in the first-team squad, taking them up to the end of their contracts, rather than for the financial year. Although Newcastle received large sums for Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Florian Thauvin, which eased the financial stress, they are being paid in instalments rather than up front. Ashley, though, has always preferred to pay for players in one lump sum. Newcastle are currently locked in negotiations with manager Benitez over the size of his transfer budget this summer, with the Spaniard increasingly exasperated by the lack of clarity offered to him. The club are also keen to get him to sign a new contract, which he is reluctant to do until he sees proof Ashley is willing to back him in the transfer market this summer after three frustrating windows in which he feels promises made to him were broken.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Mikel Arteta has worked as a coach, but never as the main man Credit: Getty Images Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for club's to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment and aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Mikel Arteta has worked as a coach, but never as the main man Credit: Getty Images Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for club's to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment and aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
One need only have listened to Jose Mourinho’s damning appraisal of Manchester United’s dismal 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion late last month to understand why few things will have heartened the manager this week as much as Romelu Lukaku’s return to training. “For 10 months I get asked ‘Why always Lukaku? Why always Lukaku?” Mourinho said. “‘That guy doesn’t have a chance to start, the other one is on the bench’. You know why now.” United’s attack has been toothless since Lukaku suffered an ankle injury against Arsenal three weeks ago and, having seen his side score just once in their final three Premier League outings over that period, Mourinho will be more than a little relieved to have the Belgium striker back for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday evening. Lukaku’s debut season at Old Trafford following his £75 million move from Everton has not been without its own difficulties but, after goalkeeper David De Gea, he has been United’s best performer. Antonio Conte, for one, will not want a reminder at Wembley of what he missed out on last summer when Lukaku snubbed Chelsea for United. “He’s had a massive season,” Andrew Cole, the former United striker, said. “He’s not had the opportunity to have much rest, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being injured and then moving on [to Los Angeles Galaxy], so this season he’s done really well, in a team that doesn’t create many chances. To get 27 goals, whether from a half-chance or a full chance, is brilliant.” How Lukaku is becoming a more selfless player Man Unite'd reliance on Lukaku Lukaku played in all bar four of United’s 38 league games with the team scoring half as many goals on average when he did not play and winning only half of their matches without the Belgian compared to 67.6 per cent when he led the line. Mourinho simply does not have the same trust in either Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford, both of whom failed to advance their case for a Cup final place in Lukaku’s absence. Yet for all Mourinho’s faith in Lukaku, it has not always been shared elsewhere. After a blistering start when he scored 11 times in 10 games, Lukaku managed just four in his next 20 and came in for considerable criticism from former United players, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, for dropping too deep and a reluctance to play off the shoulder of defenders. Ferdinand was uncompromising after United’s 2-0 defeat away to Spurs in January when he claimed Harry Kane, the Tottenham striker, gave Lukaku a lesson in how to play centre-forward and it was a similar story after the goalless draw at Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 exit. Lukaku lost possession repeatedly and Ferdinand and Scholes criticised the striker’s poor first touch, struggles to hold the ball up and the adverse effect that had on United’s attempts to play on the counter-attack. Andy Cole, who scored 121 goals for Manchester United, believes Lukaku can add to his goal tally if he gets in behind defenders more Credit: Getty Images For all his goals this season, Cole would certainly like to see Lukaku running in behind defenders more. “I still don’t believe, when I watch him play, that he’s actually playing to his strengths,” he said. “If you look at the way he played at Everton, to the way he plays now, it’s totally different. If he starts taking advantage of what he has as an athlete - his strength and power – and starts running in behind and stretching teams, you’ll get even more out of him.” In Lukaku’s defence, he is creating more. He has claimed more assists (seven) this term than ever before, his delivery from wide areas has been very good and his work ethic has shamed some team-mates. United have also lacked fluency going forward but Cole believes Lukaku could plunder a goals tally closer to Mohamed Salah’s 44 at Liverpool if he modified his game. “I think the onus is on the team as well as him because as a centre-forward you have to make that move to show your team mates that you are prepared to go in there,” Cole said. “Now if he is going to turn around and say that is not my strength, my pace and my power, we’d all sit here scratching our heads because it is. If you watched him at Everton, that is how he got a lot of his goals, they would slip him in and he would make those runs. “If you look at the modern game now, all the forwards want the ball to their feet. There could be 20 yards of space in behind, but no-one runs in behind. I look at Lukaku and think to myself, ‘Does anyone really want to chase him?’. I really don't think so. So if he thinks to himself, ‘There’s 20 yards of space in behind, I could give some a yard or two and still beat them to it’. Once he starts doing that, phew...” Andy Cole was speaking on behalf of Marathonbet, the Official Global Betting Partner to Manchester United www.marathonbet.co.uk
Why Romelu Lukaku is the one player Jose Mourinho cannot do without
One need only have listened to Jose Mourinho’s damning appraisal of Manchester United’s dismal 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion late last month to understand why few things will have heartened the manager this week as much as Romelu Lukaku’s return to training. “For 10 months I get asked ‘Why always Lukaku? Why always Lukaku?” Mourinho said. “‘That guy doesn’t have a chance to start, the other one is on the bench’. You know why now.” United’s attack has been toothless since Lukaku suffered an ankle injury against Arsenal three weeks ago and, having seen his side score just once in their final three Premier League outings over that period, Mourinho will be more than a little relieved to have the Belgium striker back for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday evening. Lukaku’s debut season at Old Trafford following his £75 million move from Everton has not been without its own difficulties but, after goalkeeper David De Gea, he has been United’s best performer. Antonio Conte, for one, will not want a reminder at Wembley of what he missed out on last summer when Lukaku snubbed Chelsea for United. “He’s had a massive season,” Andrew Cole, the former United striker, said. “He’s not had the opportunity to have much rest, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being injured and then moving on [to Los Angeles Galaxy], so this season he’s done really well, in a team that doesn’t create many chances. To get 27 goals, whether from a half-chance or a full chance, is brilliant.” How Lukaku is becoming a more selfless player Man Unite'd reliance on Lukaku Lukaku played in all bar four of United’s 38 league games with the team scoring half as many goals on average when he did not play and winning only half of their matches without the Belgian compared to 67.6 per cent when he led the line. Mourinho simply does not have the same trust in either Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford, both of whom failed to advance their case for a Cup final place in Lukaku’s absence. Yet for all Mourinho’s faith in Lukaku, it has not always been shared elsewhere. After a blistering start when he scored 11 times in 10 games, Lukaku managed just four in his next 20 and came in for considerable criticism from former United players, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, for dropping too deep and a reluctance to play off the shoulder of defenders. Ferdinand was uncompromising after United’s 2-0 defeat away to Spurs in January when he claimed Harry Kane, the Tottenham striker, gave Lukaku a lesson in how to play centre-forward and it was a similar story after the goalless draw at Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 exit. Lukaku lost possession repeatedly and Ferdinand and Scholes criticised the striker’s poor first touch, struggles to hold the ball up and the adverse effect that had on United’s attempts to play on the counter-attack. Andy Cole, who scored 121 goals for Manchester United, believes Lukaku can add to his goal tally if he gets in behind defenders more Credit: Getty Images For all his goals this season, Cole would certainly like to see Lukaku running in behind defenders more. “I still don’t believe, when I watch him play, that he’s actually playing to his strengths,” he said. “If you look at the way he played at Everton, to the way he plays now, it’s totally different. If he starts taking advantage of what he has as an athlete - his strength and power – and starts running in behind and stretching teams, you’ll get even more out of him.” In Lukaku’s defence, he is creating more. He has claimed more assists (seven) this term than ever before, his delivery from wide areas has been very good and his work ethic has shamed some team-mates. United have also lacked fluency going forward but Cole believes Lukaku could plunder a goals tally closer to Mohamed Salah’s 44 at Liverpool if he modified his game. “I think the onus is on the team as well as him because as a centre-forward you have to make that move to show your team mates that you are prepared to go in there,” Cole said. “Now if he is going to turn around and say that is not my strength, my pace and my power, we’d all sit here scratching our heads because it is. If you watched him at Everton, that is how he got a lot of his goals, they would slip him in and he would make those runs. “If you look at the modern game now, all the forwards want the ball to their feet. There could be 20 yards of space in behind, but no-one runs in behind. I look at Lukaku and think to myself, ‘Does anyone really want to chase him?’. I really don't think so. So if he thinks to himself, ‘There’s 20 yards of space in behind, I could give some a yard or two and still beat them to it’. Once he starts doing that, phew...” Andy Cole was speaking on behalf of Marathonbet, the Official Global Betting Partner to Manchester United www.marathonbet.co.uk
One need only have listened to Jose Mourinho’s damning appraisal of Manchester United’s dismal 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion late last month to understand why few things will have heartened the manager this week as much as Romelu Lukaku’s return to training. “For 10 months I get asked ‘Why always Lukaku? Why always Lukaku?” Mourinho said. “‘That guy doesn’t have a chance to start, the other one is on the bench’. You know why now.” United’s attack has been toothless since Lukaku suffered an ankle injury against Arsenal three weeks ago and, having seen his side score just once in their final three Premier League outings over that period, Mourinho will be more than a little relieved to have the Belgium striker back for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday evening. Lukaku’s debut season at Old Trafford following his £75 million move from Everton has not been without its own difficulties but, after goalkeeper David De Gea, he has been United’s best performer. Antonio Conte, for one, will not want a reminder at Wembley of what he missed out on last summer when Lukaku snubbed Chelsea for United. “He’s had a massive season,” Andrew Cole, the former United striker, said. “He’s not had the opportunity to have much rest, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being injured and then moving on [to Los Angeles Galaxy], so this season he’s done really well, in a team that doesn’t create many chances. To get 27 goals, whether from a half-chance or a full chance, is brilliant.” How Lukaku is becoming a more selfless player Man Unite'd reliance on Lukaku Lukaku played in all bar four of United’s 38 league games with the team scoring half as many goals on average when he did not play and winning only half of their matches without the Belgian compared to 67.6 per cent when he led the line. Mourinho simply does not have the same trust in either Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford, both of whom failed to advance their case for a Cup final place in Lukaku’s absence. Yet for all Mourinho’s faith in Lukaku, it has not always been shared elsewhere. After a blistering start when he scored 11 times in 10 games, Lukaku managed just four in his next 20 and came in for considerable criticism from former United players, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, for dropping too deep and a reluctance to play off the shoulder of defenders. Ferdinand was uncompromising after United’s 2-0 defeat away to Spurs in January when he claimed Harry Kane, the Tottenham striker, gave Lukaku a lesson in how to play centre-forward and it was a similar story after the goalless draw at Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 exit. Lukaku lost possession repeatedly and Ferdinand and Scholes criticised the striker’s poor first touch, struggles to hold the ball up and the adverse effect that had on United’s attempts to play on the counter-attack. Andy Cole, who scored 121 goals for Manchester United, believes Lukaku can add to his goal tally if he gets in behind defenders more Credit: Getty Images For all his goals this season, Cole would certainly like to see Lukaku running in behind defenders more. “I still don’t believe, when I watch him play, that he’s actually playing to his strengths,” he said. “If you look at the way he played at Everton, to the way he plays now, it’s totally different. If he starts taking advantage of what he has as an athlete - his strength and power – and starts running in behind and stretching teams, you’ll get even more out of him.” In Lukaku’s defence, he is creating more. He has claimed more assists (seven) this term than ever before, his delivery from wide areas has been very good and his work ethic has shamed some team-mates. United have also lacked fluency going forward but Cole believes Lukaku could plunder a goals tally closer to Mohamed Salah’s 44 at Liverpool if he modified his game. “I think the onus is on the team as well as him because as a centre-forward you have to make that move to show your team mates that you are prepared to go in there,” Cole said. “Now if he is going to turn around and say that is not my strength, my pace and my power, we’d all sit here scratching our heads because it is. If you watched him at Everton, that is how he got a lot of his goals, they would slip him in and he would make those runs. “If you look at the modern game now, all the forwards want the ball to their feet. There could be 20 yards of space in behind, but no-one runs in behind. I look at Lukaku and think to myself, ‘Does anyone really want to chase him?’. I really don't think so. So if he thinks to himself, ‘There’s 20 yards of space in behind, I could give some a yard or two and still beat them to it’. Once he starts doing that, phew...” Andy Cole was speaking on behalf of Marathonbet, the Official Global Betting Partner to Manchester United www.marathonbet.co.uk
Why Romelu Lukaku is the one player Jose Mourinho cannot do without
One need only have listened to Jose Mourinho’s damning appraisal of Manchester United’s dismal 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion late last month to understand why few things will have heartened the manager this week as much as Romelu Lukaku’s return to training. “For 10 months I get asked ‘Why always Lukaku? Why always Lukaku?” Mourinho said. “‘That guy doesn’t have a chance to start, the other one is on the bench’. You know why now.” United’s attack has been toothless since Lukaku suffered an ankle injury against Arsenal three weeks ago and, having seen his side score just once in their final three Premier League outings over that period, Mourinho will be more than a little relieved to have the Belgium striker back for the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday evening. Lukaku’s debut season at Old Trafford following his £75 million move from Everton has not been without its own difficulties but, after goalkeeper David De Gea, he has been United’s best performer. Antonio Conte, for one, will not want a reminder at Wembley of what he missed out on last summer when Lukaku snubbed Chelsea for United. “He’s had a massive season,” Andrew Cole, the former United striker, said. “He’s not had the opportunity to have much rest, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being injured and then moving on [to Los Angeles Galaxy], so this season he’s done really well, in a team that doesn’t create many chances. To get 27 goals, whether from a half-chance or a full chance, is brilliant.” How Lukaku is becoming a more selfless player Man Unite'd reliance on Lukaku Lukaku played in all bar four of United’s 38 league games with the team scoring half as many goals on average when he did not play and winning only half of their matches without the Belgian compared to 67.6 per cent when he led the line. Mourinho simply does not have the same trust in either Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford, both of whom failed to advance their case for a Cup final place in Lukaku’s absence. Yet for all Mourinho’s faith in Lukaku, it has not always been shared elsewhere. After a blistering start when he scored 11 times in 10 games, Lukaku managed just four in his next 20 and came in for considerable criticism from former United players, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, for dropping too deep and a reluctance to play off the shoulder of defenders. Ferdinand was uncompromising after United’s 2-0 defeat away to Spurs in January when he claimed Harry Kane, the Tottenham striker, gave Lukaku a lesson in how to play centre-forward and it was a similar story after the goalless draw at Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 exit. Lukaku lost possession repeatedly and Ferdinand and Scholes criticised the striker’s poor first touch, struggles to hold the ball up and the adverse effect that had on United’s attempts to play on the counter-attack. Andy Cole, who scored 121 goals for Manchester United, believes Lukaku can add to his goal tally if he gets in behind defenders more Credit: Getty Images For all his goals this season, Cole would certainly like to see Lukaku running in behind defenders more. “I still don’t believe, when I watch him play, that he’s actually playing to his strengths,” he said. “If you look at the way he played at Everton, to the way he plays now, it’s totally different. If he starts taking advantage of what he has as an athlete - his strength and power – and starts running in behind and stretching teams, you’ll get even more out of him.” In Lukaku’s defence, he is creating more. He has claimed more assists (seven) this term than ever before, his delivery from wide areas has been very good and his work ethic has shamed some team-mates. United have also lacked fluency going forward but Cole believes Lukaku could plunder a goals tally closer to Mohamed Salah’s 44 at Liverpool if he modified his game. “I think the onus is on the team as well as him because as a centre-forward you have to make that move to show your team mates that you are prepared to go in there,” Cole said. “Now if he is going to turn around and say that is not my strength, my pace and my power, we’d all sit here scratching our heads because it is. If you watched him at Everton, that is how he got a lot of his goals, they would slip him in and he would make those runs. “If you look at the modern game now, all the forwards want the ball to their feet. There could be 20 yards of space in behind, but no-one runs in behind. I look at Lukaku and think to myself, ‘Does anyone really want to chase him?’. I really don't think so. So if he thinks to himself, ‘There’s 20 yards of space in behind, I could give some a yard or two and still beat them to it’. Once he starts doing that, phew...” Andy Cole was speaking on behalf of Marathonbet, the Official Global Betting Partner to Manchester United www.marathonbet.co.uk
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - May 13, 2018 Liverpool's Sadio Mane acknowledges fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs Brighton & Hove Albion - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - May 13, 2018 Liverpool's Sadio Mane acknowledges fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
When Brighton told me I was being released, it was a bitter pill to swallow
When Brighton told me I was being released, it was a bitter pill to swallow
When Brighton told me I was being released, it was a bitter pill to swallow
When Brighton told me I was being released, it was a bitter pill to swallow
When Brighton told me I was being released, it was a bitter pill to swallow
When Brighton told me I was being released, it was a bitter pill to swallow

What to read next

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes