It is an interesting claim to make: “Arsenal have yet to contact Manchester City over Mikel Arteta”. Bold words from the media which underlines just how much of the recruitment process is taking place away from the media spotlight.
Now, I don’t doubt the club are talking to him. ‘Reports’ claim he’s been in London for a few days and I doubt he’s been catching up some old muckers, to be honest. I guess – blogger code for the next bit is pure speculation – that informally we’ve approached City and asked what the release cost will be. The answer won’t have put us off with talks ongoing with Arteta.
Yet it shows how little is actually known about the situation. We’ve morphed from a situation where an announcement was imminent, just waiting for Arsène to clear his desk. There’s been a suggestion that a ‘decent interval’ will pass, for decency’s sake and extending courtesy to the dearly departed former manager. Which makes it sound a bit like planning to turn up at your late wife’s funeral with a new woman in tow.
Dearly departed? That makes us sound like Everton who, it’s claimed today, have spent £30m paying off managers since Farhad Moshiri took a majority shareholding. All that for a lower league finish this season than they achieved last year. Appoint in haste, repent at the bank manager’s convenience.
Gary Neville’s default mode is ‘lambast Arsenal at every opportunity’ and accordingly he did so on Sunday. Essentially, he said it was amateur hour at the Emirates for not announcing already. Too slow, too long; too whatever.
So, how did the hasty of David Moyes turn out for Manchester United, Gazza? Or maybe Sunday was the moment and take the spotlight off Arsène in much the same way Mourinho did with Van Gaal?
The reality is that there is no right or wrong interval between appointments. Even if there was, getting the right man is more important and history will be the judge of that.
And the benchmark by which he will be judged is going to be interesting. What are people’s expectations of a new era at Arsenal? To be honest, I can’t remember what they were when Arsène took over. We were pretty much in the same boat as now. Outside the top four and grateful to be in the Europa League next season?
The emotions are different because the match which confirmed sixth was Burnley, incomparable to beating Bolton at Highbury all those years ago.
This time, consensus on what constitutes a successful first season will be difficult to reach. The benchmark is sixth and 63 points, which is a low bar in my view. Anything above those numbers? Is only the top four a success? Do cup wins count as success?
Double standards will apply. While this was deemed unsuccessful for Arsène, for Mikel Arteta will that be a good, solid start? Much, I think, will depend on whether our individual expectations are realistic in the first place.
There are some ‘intangibles’ to think about. ‘Moving in the right direction’ will be bandied around; a lot, and contradictorily. We could finish seventh with 60 points and still be ‘moving in the right direction’. Which is the beauty of intangibles, they are shifting sands upon which we change our stance to suit the circumstances.
While the appointment of Raul and Sven make us better prepared for the post-Wenger years, it’s no guarantee of success. The same applies to appointing an experienced manager. If every club received that guarantee, Sam Allardyce would be £6m richer through bonuses not severance pay.
The Bottom Line
What constitutes a successful season won’t be judged in the same terms if an experienced and successful manager such as Allegri arrives. His appointment brings a weight of expectation that titles will be delivered even if they aren’t realistic ambitions. We are so far behind City that I’d suggest we are four transfer windows with hundreds of millions of pounds spent before we are ready to challenge for a title.
Reduce those transfer funds are we’re further from that moment, relying on tactics and man-management to get us to wtihin touching distance.
Some believe the announcement will be as early as next week. Arsenal’s informal deadline is before the World Cup begins. There’s loosely definiton of when that moment is. Before the players join their squads? Or the kick-off of the opening game?
We shall see.