The move to appoint Mikel Arteta as the next Arsenal manger is a big gamble by the Gunners, but at least their board are willing to show a sense of adventure and daring, something the club has failed to do for far too long.
Despite there being a sense of chaos around the Emirate Stadium, when most clubs would turn to a safe pair of hands, Arsenal are on the brink of taking the plunge and gambling on promise and potential. There is definitely some bravery in the decision, and a hell of a lot of optimism.
Arteta has never been in charge of a club, but he knows the game and he knows Arsenal. But who knows if the highly rated assistant will make it as a successful head coach?
The appointment, if it happens, is unlikely to be a quick fix to Arsenal’s current problems, and the forthcoming run of fixtures they face will not make the task any easier. The risk is certainly there for both Arteta and the club, but the potential reward could make this one of the most exciting appointments in recent years.
Arteta will have learnt a lot from Pep Guardiola over the past three-and-a-half years at Manchester City, so the prospect of Arsenal having their very own version of Guardiola should be enough to excite Gunners fans.
Arsenal came close to appointing Arteta as Arsene Wenger’s immediate replacement 18 months ago, but nervousness over the adjudged gamble eventually prevailed. The more experienced Unai Emery was considered the safer option, so interest in Arteta was ditched at the last minute, despite talks being so advanced many at the club thought it was a done deal.
If anything, Arsenal are in need, even more, of a safe pair of hands. So, what is so different this time around?
Firstly, Arteta is now being seen by many as the obvious replacement for Guardiola at City when the Spaniard does move on. Secondly, the executives at Arsenal who are making the choice on this appointment are largely different to last time, with only Raul Sanllehi remaining from the selection committee which plumped for Emery last summer.
Arteta has been described as an obsessive coach who puts an emphasis on the smaller details of the game that can improve individual players, and his footballing philosophy is one that is clearly aligned with Guardiola’s.
The idea of appointing Arteta sounds alluring, but so did Emery’s when he arrived a year and a half ago. Emery also spoke of playing on the front foot and of being the “protagonists” in matches, but the performances did not always align with that vision.
The crowd though will buy into Arteta as an ex-player, which should make for an easier baptism for him, but from there, the rest will be determined by how quickly the potential is turned into points.
How long it takes for Arteta the coach to adjust to life as Arteta the manager will be the real test, as it is for most who make that transition. It’s a gamble worth taking. What have Arsenal got to lose?