Patrick Vieira is “ready to manage Arsenal,” according to former team-mate Robert Pires.
Arsene Wenger took charge of his last game at Huddersfield on Sunday as the curtain came down on a 22-year spell at the helm.
A number of Arsenal’s backroom staff have followed Wenger in leaving as the club prepare for life beyond the Frenchman.
Two former club captains Mikel Arteta and Vieira, currently head coach at New York City in the Major Soccer League, are among the favourites for the role.
Arteta has, though, emerged as the front-runner and is reportedly the preferred choice of Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
The 36-year-old, however, holds no direct managerial experience, having served under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City since his retirement at the end of the 2015/2016 campaign.
Vieira is also a firm favourite with Gunners’ fans, having helped drive Wenger’s Invincibles team through their unbeaten league season of 2003/2004.
Frenchman Pires – who enjoyed a successful six-year spell at Highbury before joining Villarreal in the summer of 2006 – believes all of the names linked could take on the role, but is in no doubt of the man he would like to see succeed Wenger.
“I have seen the shortlist: Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel Arteta – why not? I think all of them could manage Arsenal,” Pires said in an interview with BTSport.com.
“There’s maybe a small advantage for Allegri and Ancelotti as they both have a lot of experience in Italy, Germany and England.
“With Vieira – and this is only my opinion – yes. Not just because he’s my friend. Forget this.
“He is doing very well with New York City, and he told me the job is very hard and difficult.
“However, he has a very good profile to replace Arsene Wenger, because he knows football, he knows the Premier League and of course, he knows Arsenal.
“So that’s why I say – yes, Patrick Vieira is ready to manage Arsenal.”
While the managerial vacancy remains to be filled, the club has wasted no time in clearing the decks for the new regime.
Boro Primorac, a long-term coach and friend of Wenger, was always likely to leave and, as the outgoing manager prepares to clear his office later this week, a number of other backroom staff have also been relieved of their duties.
Colin Lewin, head of the club’s medical department, has been at the club a year longer than Wenger, but will also be departing – as well as coaches Neil Banfield, Gerry Peyton and Tony Colbert, with Paul Johnson leaving his post as equipment manager.
As things stand it appears Wenger’s assistant Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann, recruited to the coaching staff just last summer, will remain under the new manager.
Another name touted as a potential successor has been Hoffenheim head coach Julian Nagelsmann, although the Bundesliga side insisted on Tuesday that the 30-year-old will be going nowhere.
It also remains unclear what Wenger’s next move will be.
The 68-year-old revealed last week he has some work to do in France early this week before returning to Arsenal’s London Colney training centre to clear his desk.
Speaking to the Arsenal website, in quotes published on Tuesday, Wenger said: “It will be very difficult for me (without Arsenal).
“At the moment if I want to continue to work, I think I have to move out of the country, because my gut feeling at the moment is that I would feel I would betray my club by staying in England. People might feel that I’ve betrayed what I’ve built here.
“That is the problem I face at the moment. My club is here, my heart is here and will be forever. As I said in my speech on the pitch after the Burnley (home) game, I’m a fan above all.”
The brinkmanship has begun at Tottenham Hotspur.
On one side stands Mauricio Pochettino, the hottest prospect in club management and a frustrated leader starting to cast covetous glances at his moneyed competitors.
The intractable Daniel Levy is on the other side. A chairman famed for his parsimony who has permitted a £40.3m (Dh200m) net spend in four seasons by the Argentine and has a new stadium to pay for, of which escalating costs put the reported total outlay at £1 billion (Dh5bn).
It is not by accident that rumours of Chelsea’s interest caught fire on Tuesday.
These followed Sunday’s confirmation of a third-successive top-three Premier League finish on a shoestring budget and subsequent exclamations from Pochettino that Levy must be “brave” and “take risks”.
The scene is set for a battle of wills that could define the club’s short-term future. Certainly before the new revenue streams start flowing and the debt becomes manageable at the White Hart Lane redevelopment – which judging by Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium could be more than half a decade away.
A solution appears obvious. Purse strings clasped tight must be belatedly loosened.
Yet, this narrative betrays the truth. Levy is not the party still with much to prove.
He’s shown Spurs’ reclusive billionaire owner Joe Lewis that he can deliver profits of £41.2m (Dh204.4m) on 2016/17’s club-record revenue of £306.3m (Dh1.5bn) that is the lowest in the Premier League’s top six, while safeguarding the riches earned from Champions League qualification. Some juggling act.
In an era when the Manchester sides are regularly spending more than £150m (Dh744.3m) every summer and even neighbours Arsenal have broken their club record twice in the last year, Pochettino’s development is laudable. Not since 1959-63 has the top three been breached so often by Spurs.
A disclaimer remains, however, that Levy cannot ignore. It is now exactly a decade since Spurs lifted the 2007/08 League Cup.
Since Pochettino’s arrival in May 2014 from Southampton, he’s finished third in 2015/16’s two-horse race for Premier League glory with Leicester.
The 46-year-old lost the 2014/15 League Cup showpiece to Chelsea and made the semi-finals of the last two FA Cups.
During this time, Arsene Wenger has effectively been chased out of Arsenal after he won two FA Cups.
Manchester United lifted the 2015/16 FA Cup as Louis van Gaal’s reign disintegrated. They have subsequently claimed the League Cup and Europa League despite the ongoing disquiet about manager Jose Mourinho’s methods – with the promise of Saturday’s FA Cup showdown to come.
A dismissive narrative has emerged from Pochettino about these competitions.
“We need a big trophy,” he said last August. “A big trophy is Premier League or Champions League.”
Rich words, oft repeated, when a nine-year managerial career has delivered zero silverware. No matter the laudable style or startling progress seen in the likes of England pair Harry Kane and Dele Alli, plus Denmark’s exceptional playmaker Christian Eriksen.
Levy is an astute operator. Such disdainful statements will not be missed.
For all Pochettino’s promise, it is yet to be delivered upon.
Mourinho secured 22 of the game’s prizes, big or small, before he joined United for 2016/17. But he understands the catalysing value of success – no matter where it is found.
In times of excessive investment on infrastructure, Pochettino cannot point to anything truly tangible when he enters negotiations about both an improved contract and budget.
The ex-Argentina defender is unable to produce incontrovertible proof that another gamble from Levy with Tottenham’s finances would deliver elusive silverware. It would just be a punt.
Levy never gets his sums wrong. Pochettino, in contrast, has miscalculated.
As we continue to hand out our end-of-season awards following the conclusion of the Premier League campaign, we reveal the winner of our Coach of the Season.
Their football was mesmerising and unstoppable, as they romped to the title. A run of 18 straight wins between August and December, in which time City beat Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, may never be repeated.
They moved to the top of the table after a 6-0 away win at Watford in September and never looked like being caught.
While others will argue the Manchester United team of 1999, or the Arsenal side of 2004, are the greatest in Premier League history, with the records City have broken and the football they’ve played, they may well stand alone at the top – and that is all down to Guardiola.
What a job from the Burnley boss. Dyche guided the Clarets to a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League, meaning they will be playing Europa League football next season. After moving into seventh in September, Burnley never dropped lower than ninth, picking up some excellent wins along the way, including a 3-2 success at Stamford Bridge. While their style of play may not have been the most exciting, Burnley showed a real togetherness and work ethic to finish just behind Arsenal.
Taking over after a shocking start to the season, in which Crystal Palace failed to score in their opening seven games, losing them all, Hodgson deserves a lot of credit for the job he did with the Eagles. Palace lost just nine more league games after that difficult start, winning 11 and scoring 45 goals in the process, as they ended the campaign in 11th. After his disastrous ending with England, Hodgson has restored his reputation at Selhurst Park.
The former Liverpool and Chelsea boss did an excellent job with what is a limited Newcastle squad. After not receiving the funds to strengthen as he would have liked, and despite goals being hard to come by, Benitez guided Newcastle to a top-ten finish, improving the levels of a number of the players. Wins at home to Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the second half of the season were superb results that helped secure safety.