Tuesday 3 December 2019 5:12 pm

Forget Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino, Arsenal should make Patrick Vieira their Frank Lampard

Mid-season can be a difficult time for clubs to recruit a new manager, with big moves tending to happen in the close season and next summer in particular looking like being one of major appointments.

So Arsenal need to be realistic as they seek a successor for Unai Emery and in my eyes there is no better option than their former captain Patrick Vieira.

His return would make a big noise and give the club a massive boost at a time when they need to restore unity and get players and fans pulling in the same direction.

Read more: No new manager bounce for Ljungberg and other Premier League talking points


The Gunners, languishing in mid-table and facing a fourth year outside the Champions League, need a shake-up and Vieira has the reputation and personality to deliver it.

The Frenchman knows where the bar is set at Arsenal – they want to win every game – and that’s key for any new manager. He’s always had a winners’ mentality, and that’s something the Gunners have lacked.

The 43-year-old has been in management long enough, first at New York City, where he finished fourth and second in the MLS standings, and now at Nice, where he is in his second campaign.

Crucially, he learned about football from Arsene Wenger and Arsenal should not just discard what a manager who shaped the Premier League brought to them. Bringing in another stranger to the club would risk diluting that heritage and more division.

Unlike fellow Wenger protege Thierry Henry, Vieira is more typical management material.

On top of all that, he also maintains the French influence at Arsenal, which can only help Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and Matteo Guendouzi.

Square peg in round hole

Vieira’s critics could argue that he hasn’t set the world alight at Nice, who finished seventh last year and are currently 12th.


But I wonder whether, having played only one season in France at the start of his career, he knows more about how to win games in the Premier League, where he spent a decade. Perhaps in Ligue 1 he is a square peg in a round hole.

Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino have been linked with the Arsenal vacancy but I can’t envisage either of them making that move.

Rodgers is doing very well with Leicester and I don’t see him wanting to jump ship yet. If he stays on the same path, big job offers will keep coming his way.

Former Tottenham boss Pochettino, meanwhile, has insisted he wouldn’t manager Barcelona because of his time at their neighbours Espanyol, so by the same principle I don’t think he’d touch Arsenal.

Appointing a fan favourite might invite comparisons with Manchester United, who have gone downhill since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s promising spell as caretaker was made permanent.

Frank Lampard
Chelsea took a gamble on Lampard and it has paid off handsomely so far

But Solskjaer was a super-sub at United – he didn’t lead them to glory like a Vieira, who was Arsenal’s heartbeat game in, game out, season after season – and also inherited a very tough job.

A better comparison would be Frank Lampard, who, like Vieira, is a winner, leader and globally respected icon of the Premier League era.

Lampard wasn’t an unqualified success at Derby, but Chelsea took a gamble on him, in part because of their transfer ban, but also because he knew the club and he was available. Vieira and Arsenal is a similar story and the timing feels right.

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