Is the Risk of Sacking Mikel Arteta Worth the Reward?
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
As everyone has now long known, the season is done. With Arsenal crashing out of the Europa League, and the side’s chance of breaking into the top 6 being practically nonexistent, it’s over. Even though the Reds of London committed a sensationally ugly smash and grab to Thomas Tuchel's "perfect machine" Chelsea, there is nothing to play for. Two Premier League matches remain, and it wouldn’t be overly presumptuous to say that almost no one cares. Greetings, once again to apathy.
This season has been at utter catastrophe. The players aren’t good enough, the former head coach, now manager seems out of his depth, and the board still does not seem to care in the slightest. I won't let a narrow victory to the Blues distort that belief of mine, I'm still furious. Maybe even more now that it's obvious that the players perform when there's no pressure. The club which is now more of a franchise needs wholesale changes from top to bottom; the same ones that are annually alluded to, yet never come correctly. The powers that be just can’t seem to get any adjustments right. In fact, alterations made typically do little aside from make matters worse.
Given the fact that replacing most players will take a long time, and the board appears to be digging their feet in amid interest from Spotify bigwig Daniel Ek (bald joke not intended,) Mikel Arteta is where the changes can and should begin. However, sacking the former Arsenal midfielder may not be a risk that’s worth the reward — at least not for the time being.
The reason why is simple. The managers available are not replacements that one could envisage changing the side too much for the better, nor steadying the ship. The likes of Maurizio Sarri and Massimiliano Allegri would flatter to deceive on opposite sides of the pitch from each other, and the others without employment are not even worth mentioning. Once again, the Gunners are stuck.
Letting go of Arteta to bring in such an underwhelming candidate would be foolish and another step backwards. The next manager hired, assuming that Arteta does not miraculously turn things around, must start a long needed, footballing Revolution. Not merely in the way of a much played out new manager bounce, but in a sustainable, long lasting one.
The Reds of London are in dire need of a damn good tactician that also isn’t scared to keep things simple when need be. In other words, an experienced, opposite of Arteta kind of man is needed if a steady ship is what we desire. No more over-complicatedness, nor rawness. Arsenal need someone who’s driven a ship or two, otherwise instability persisting is inevitable, even if the current man in charge turns things around. Choppiness is a symptom of having such a young boss.
Boat analogies are perfect to signify this torrid time, so prepare for more. We’re sinking. Fast. The side is plummeting further down than many would have ever anticipated possible, and the downward spiral doesn’t appear to have a cease in sight. The Captain of the ship may need to be removed, he keeps hitting icebergs that a master would likely steer around with ease. I don’t want it to be true, but it is. Arsenal took a risk hiring him, there is no saying that it will ever pay off. At this point, the seafloor seems a hell of a lot closer than the surface.
However, in spite of all of this, he can’t be relieved of his duties. Not yet at least. We’re in the thick of it, the middle of the ocean. And there’s no life boats, dinghies, or other good coaches anywhere in sight. We'd have to ransack a nearby steady ship, and poach a vessel leader, hoping he'd feel bad for our pathetically feeble one, and feel inclined to help. That does not seem realistic. The only thing keeping us all company out in the vast sea of mediocrity is the untouchable horizon of longing to be great again.
Arteta can’t be forced to walk the plank quite yet though. Like the novice of a manager does in most 90s, the board should wait to make a change — there will be a lifeboat in sight soon enough, I’m sure. This time, waiting pocket handed would be sensible and sensical. When a good manager comes available Arteta has to go. It may sound harsh, but my mind is made up. What reason is there to have any faith apart from the improvements in underlying metrics? Not to sound airheaded, but I just want to win matches, and I'm not sure Arteta can get us doing that again. The mathematic stuff is getting better, but I couldn't give less of a shit. We're terribly boring to watch and more below average than me on the attractive scale.
I wanted and still want it to work out, I wished for him to be the next Arsene Wenger. Really though, the 39-year-old seems like a goldfish in the big blue sea. An ant on Jupiter. An assistant coach at one of the biggest teams in world sport. He’s just not ready yet. Like I said earlier, he’s very obviously out of his depth.
Sacking the former Manchester City number two is not worth risking at this moment. However, keeping an eye on other teams management situations is the way to go. In doing so, an adequate, ship steadying replacement can be found. One thing is for certain though, the end appears to be near for the young manager, at least that is what it seems like from my perspective. Whether it's now, or later, it's happening. As tragic as it may be, our ship’s current commander seems better suited to a first mate role.