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Arsenal manager search: Are Mikel Arteta or Patrick Vieira right to replace Wenger?

Arsene Wenger will be a difficult act to follow at Arsenal, yet the club seem increasingly likely to hire a relatively inexperienced manager to fill the massive void left by the Frenchman.

With Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri saying he expects to stay in charge of the Serie A club next season, former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta (and current Manchester City coach) is now widely considered as one of the front-runners for the job, despite never having managed before.

Sources told ESPN FC earlier this month that the Arsenal hierarchy are considering a young, emerging head coach to take the reins, with Arteta and former Gunners great Patrick Vieira, now manager of New York City FC, seen as the two most likely candidates.

Going down that route would certainly be a gamble, but it could also pay great dividends. Here's a look at the pros and cons of hiring either Vieira or Arteta.

Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola during a Manchester City training session.
Mikel Arteta has a good managerial education.


Fits into the new structure

Arsenal don't want another all-powerful manager like Wenger but are looking for a head coach to fit into the club's new structure. In that sense, Arteta would be a perfect fit as he would probably accept a role where he focuses on the training ground and lets others take care of transfers and contracts.

Learned from the best

Arteta couldn't have asked for a better coaching education. After getting his badges at Arsenal and learning from Wenger for several years, he has spent the last two years working directly under Pep Guardiola as part of the Manchester City backroom staff.

If he can create a brand of football and a philosophy that combines the best of both managers, he could become something special indeed.

Knows the club

Few people have a better knowledge of Arsenal's squad and staff than Arteta, having served as captain of the club just two years ago. That means there won't be much of an orientation period as the Spaniard would be intimately familiar with his surroundings from day one. That's a massive bonus, especially since the World Cup will give less time for the new manager to really put his stamp on things.


No experience at all

He may have learned from the best, but that doesn't necessarily mean he can put it into practice. There's a big difference between being an assistant to a great manager like Guardiola and trying to be one yourself. And we simply don't know if Arteta has what it takes as he has never taken charge of a team at any level.

The Manchester United job proved too big for David Moyes despite his success at Everton, so it's quite possible that the Arsenal job will prove too big for someone with no management experience at all.

Too friendly with the players?

The fact that Arteta already knows a large part of the Arsenal squad could have a negative effect as well. Those players may still view the Spaniard as more of a friendly teammate than a manager, which could cause problems when it comes to instilling focus and discipline. This squad needs a new, more ruthless, mentality more than anything.

Shorter honeymoon period

Arteta wouldn't be unanimously greeted as a returning hero by the Arsenal fa base -- parts of which would likely view him with scepticism. Arteta was popular among supporters during his Arsenal stint, but he will never be remembered as a club great. That means his honeymoon period would be considerably shorter and he would be under pressure to deliver results right away in order to dispel any doubts over his lack of experience.

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira has been learning his trade in MLS.


Galvanise the fan base

One of the biggest benefits to hiring someone like Vieira would be to unite a fractured fanbase before the season even started. The Frenchman's name is still sung during Arsenal games and his presence in the dugout would instantly energise those supporters who have grown increasingly apathetic during the last few Wenger years.

Carry on Wenger's legacy

Vieira would also be a direct link to the best part of the Wenger era, meaning the legacy of the "Invincibles" would still be strong as the club tries to replicate those glory years from 1998-2004. Vieira was the first key signing identified by Wenger and would therefore be a fitting successor as well.

Change the mentality of the team

As stated above, what the club needs more than anything is a new mentality. This team has simply gone soft, as evidenced by the massive difference in form away from home compared to the cosy comforts of the Emirates this past season. Vieira might be better suited than anyone to change their mindset. It was his winning mentality set the tone for Wenger's best sides and he would give this squad the kick they so badly need.

Sort out the defence

It's often been said that Arsenal never replaced Vieira's influence as a tough-tackling central midfielder who could help shield the back four. Well, if anyone understands the importance of sorting out that problem, it would be him. He would also put more emphasis on improving the back four itself, hopefully with more physical centre-backs in the mould of former teammates Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Tony Adams.


Lack of European coaching experience

Vieira's record with New York City FC is impressive. He took over a team that finished 17th the previous season and led them to fourth place in his first year in charge, improving that to a second-place finish last year. But it's hard to tell how success in MLS will translate to the Premier League, which is another beast entirely.

Vieira still has no experience managing in Europe and that means he must still be considered a big gamble. Would he be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp when it comes to tactical battles?

Could he get the best out of players like Mesut Ozil?

By handing Ozil such a massive new contract, Arsenal have placed themselves in a position where they have to build the team around the German playmaker. That means the new manager must be able to get the best out of him, though he has been accused of going missing in big games.

Ozil needs a certain amount of freedom to express himself creatively, and he has been handled with silk gloves by Wenger at times. It's unclear how he would fit into a more aggressive style both on and off the pitch.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.


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