We’re taking a risk by writing this article. There will be a small delay between writing it and publishing it, and it’s possible that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will have been fired within that time. If he has, everything we’re about to say will be redundant. We suspect that won’t be the case, though. Arteta will likely be allowed to complete the few remaining fixtures that Arsenal have to fulfil this season. After that, things don’t look good for the once highly-rated Spanish manager.
When Arteta arrived at Arsenal as a replacement for his countryman Unai Emery, he wasn’t universally welcomed. A significant number of Arsenal fans wanted a more experienced coach with a proven track record at the highest level. He was beloved at Arsenal as a player and respected as a former captain of the club, but this was his first managerial role. Those in favour of his appointment – many of whom were glad to have anyone other than Emery in the role – pointed to the fact that he was Pep Guardiola’s right-hand man coaching a very successful Manchester City team, and will have learned from serving as assistant to a manager many people believe is the best in the world. As various former assistant managers to Sir Alex Ferguson have proven with their own failed managerial careers, though, some things can’t be taught.
It’s a bitter irony for Arsenal fans that the architect of their latest embarrassment was Unai Emery himself. Having been discarded by Arsenal, he returned home to Spain to manage Villarreal – a mid-ranking Spanish team who shouldn’t be on Arsenal’s level. Emery has the club performing at a respectable level in La Liga and has now knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage by beating them at home and holding them to a 0-0 draw in London. Emery’s team will play in a European cup final this season. Arsenal, stuck in 9th position in the English Premier League and at risk of finishing even lower, have no trophies and won’t be playing European football at all next season. Arsene Wenger’s time as Arsenal manager came to an end earlier than Wenger wanted it to because the club’s board felt that the team was beginning to slide backwards. That slide continued under Emery. It’s become a nosedive under Arteta. Last season’s FA Cup victory helped him to paper over the cracks, but the rot set in a long time ago.
If there were fans inside stadiums at the moment, Arteta would probably be gone already. Arsenal fans aren’t shy about telling a manager when they’d like him to leave, and the feeling at the moment is that most of them want him gone. His team is seen as too timid and lacking leadership, and those are faults that tend to get pinned on the manager. His defensive tactics sometimes leave fans confused. His persistence with some players – Willian and David Luiz especially – at the expense of others is baffling at times. A 0-0 draw in a European tournament game where Arsenal only needed a 1-0 win, though, is the final straw for many supporters. A 0-0 draw was the least acceptable result. The majority of fans would rather have seen Arsenal lose while going all-out for a win than surrender with a draw. There’s a growing consensus that Arteta doesn’t know how to get the best out of his players, and he’s passed the point of no return.
Arteta’s fate might not be inevitable, though, because there doesn’t appear to be an outstanding candidate for a job. Replacing one manager with another is always like taking a very high-stakes punt on an online slots game. You’ve made your bet, and you know there’s a chance of being rewarded, but you also know there’s a chance of ending up in a worse position than you are now. This mechanism is what persuades online slots players to flock to websites like Rose Slots for New Zealand Players. A loss might be tolerable when you’re playing online slots because you can always spin again immediately after one. Managers have to be given time. If Arsenal’s owner Stan Kroenke decides to spin again and loses again, this might be an online slots gamble he can never come back from. He’s already deeply unpopular with fans because of the European Super League fiasco. On top of that, he’ll be down on revenue next season because of the lack of European football. These are trying times for everyone connected to the club, and the way ahead isn’t clear.
If Arsenal does want to make a change, they might be best advised to start making contact with potential replacements for Arteta as soon as possible. A name that’s been circulating on social media in the aftermath of Arsenal’s Europa League exit is Italian coach Massimiliano Allegri. That’s likely to be wishful thinking on the part of fans. Allegri is unlikely to accept a job with a club that isn’t in the Champions League and is more likely to return to Juventus to replace Andrea Pirlo. Brendan Rodgers is another name that’s been touted by pundits, but he also has Champions League football on offer next season with Leicester. Rodgers is onto a good thing at Leicester, where fans love him and expectations are lower than they would be at the Emirates Stadium. The history and prestige of Arsenal might appeal to him, but there’s no footballing reason to leave Leicester. After him, the next favourite with the bookies is former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez. If he were appointed, he’d be the third Spanish Arsenal coach in a row and, given his history with Chelsea, perhaps the least popular of them all.
There are other options. Steven Gerrard might potentially be coaxed away from Rangers, but he’s a Liverpool icon and an unproven risk in the English Premier League. Eddie Howe is available but seems likely to take the Celtic job and damaged his reputation with the failure of his final season at Bournemouth. Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry would be interested and are club legends but have failed in managerial and coaching roles elsewhere. Arteta might keep his job after all – but if he does, it might be because nobody of the right calibre is willing to come and replace him.