There was once a time when Mikel Arteta looked an absolute shoo-in for the Arsenal job following Arsene Wenger’s departure over 12 months ago.
And after a season under the stewardship of Unai Emery, the brand of football enjoyed by so many under Wenger has been deserted as the Spaniard looks to instil a footballing philosophy more centred on a high-pressing system rather than free-flowing passing.
With the rewards of Emery’s strategies yet to be discovered at The Emirates, it’s fairly understandable for one to wonder what an Arsenal side under the control of Arteta would look like since the former midfielder has picked up an appetite for silverware as an assistant coach at Manchester City.
It is perhaps too fanciful to suggest that Arteta could simply replicate the philosophies of Pep Guardiola at Arsenal and instantly bear fruit from his experience in working under his compatriot, but that experience has got to be transformed into knowledge somewhere down the line.
Either way, in a world where Wenger and Emery are at opposite ends of the tactical spectrum, Arteta (and Pep) would certainly be a lot closer to the legendary Frenchman, with both philosophies focused on the intricacy of passing and movement.
With that kind of mantra becoming part of Arsenal’s DNA throughout the Wenger years, you could see the fans warming to a style that they have become more attuned to – and if Emery continues to stutter in the shadow of Guardiola’s passing machines at City, when the time for change arrives, few would be better placed to return Arsenal to the Wenger-esque style than Arteta.
You would like to think there would be little by way of a transition period for any future Arteta arrival In the Arsenal dugout – as a man who ended his football career at Emirates Stadium as captain, instilling the club’s values and traditions into someone who already holds the club in high esteem would take little effort.
And as City’s success continues, so will Arteta’s stock rise. His progress as a coach to this point has already put him in the frame for the Newcastle job (which would ironically see him debut against Arsenal), and they won’t be the last club linking him to a top role.
In other words, when push comes to shove, Arsenal must make sure they do not miss out on something incredible by passing on Arteta should the Emery project crumble in the coming months and years.
Just as they perhaps should’ve done when Pep Guardiola announced his Bayern Munich departure, getting ahead of the curve with a managerial appointment could be the precursor to a prolonged period of success which is being enjoyed in the blue half of Manchester and the red half of Liverpool at the moment.
Identifying the right man to deliver that success is, of course, the hardest aspect of the job – but in Arteta there is almost an air of obviousness about his credentials, approach and philosophy – so Arsenal should be ready to pounce if the opportunity presents itself.