Friday, August 12

Without Patrick Vieira at Arsenal (yet): how the Gunners’ coaching job has proved elusive for the club legend


Patrick Vieira is an Arsenal club legend, the captain of their Invincibles team and one of the club’s leaders during his nine years playing for them. But he will be training against his old club when he leads Crystal Palace against Arsenal. And if he’s successful, many Emirates fans will wonder why Vieira isn’t sitting on the Gunners’ bench.

Arsenal, just three points ahead of Crystal Palace in the English Premier League table, are coached by another former Arsenal player, Mikel Arteta, 39, who was appointed coach in December 2019, just three years after retiring. . Immediately after hanging up his boots, Arteta landed a job as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City before he was handed over the reins at Arsenal.

45-year-old Patrick Vieira had a more tortuous path to training in the Premier League after his playing days ended, but he never involved the club where he became a world star. In the run-up to the game against Arsenal he was asked why:

“I don’t know, that’s a question you should ask them.” Vieira told The Guardian. “When I decided to go on the journey of becoming a manager, there are options and choices and you just go your way. Today that trip has taken me to Crystal Palace and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity ”.

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Vieira’s path to the Premier League coach

The Frenchman was at Manchester City when he called it a career in July 2011. He credits current City Football Group director of Global Football Brain Marwood with giving him his coaching entry in a youth development role at Man City and then naming him in May 2013 as the club’s alternate team manager.

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Two years later, in May 2015, Vieira was interviewed for the Newcastle United job before the Magpies opted for former England coach Steve McClaren, who only lasted eight months on the job. Six months after that opportunity fell through, Man City gave Vieira his first appointment as a senior head coach at sister club NYCFC in Major League Soccer.

Vieira made a positive impression in two and a half seasons in New York, giving an attacking-minded identity to a team that struggled in its expansion season. He would lead NYCFC to fourth place (2016) and second place (2017) in his two full seasons in charge, only to stumble in the playoff quarterfinals each season. But he did enough to win his first European managerial gig in June 2018 with OGC Nice in France’s Ligue 1 after being linked to Saint-Etienne a year earlier.

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He also enjoyed success in France, leading Nice to seventh and fifth place. But after a five-game losing streak, including elimination from the Europa League group stage, Vieira was fired in December 2020.

Vieira was reportedly a candidate for the post at English second-division Bournemouth in February 2021, but his first Premier League shot was just months away when Crystal Palace hired him in July 2021.

Why isn’t Vieira a coach of Arsenal?

Legendary Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger left the club in the summer of 2018 and Vieira, who was in NYCFC at the time, was rumored to be a candidate to succeed him. But the Gunners instead opted for the most proven European coach in Unai Emery and days after the news was revealed, Vieira joined OGC Nicein France.

Emery lasted just over a year, opening up another opportunity to bring Vieira back when Emery was fired in November 2019. Instead, Arsenal left with the untested Arteta, although it’s hard to believe it couldn’t be done. a deal to free him. Vieira from his contract with OGC Nice if the Gunners leadership really wanted him.

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To think that Wenger had set the stage for Arsenal to name Vieira when months before Emery’s firing he singled out Vieira as future Arsenal manager:

“It’s just flattering that the guy who spent more than 20 years there thinks I have the quality to lead a great club like Arsenal one day.” Vieira said in reaction at the time..

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Arsenal have never incorporated Vieira. Now the Frenchman has a chance to show his former club what he missed when they first met in the Premier League:

“I really want to. I had the opportunity to play for this soccer club for nine years,” Vieira said at a pregame press conference. Better football, I would say. Going back there is emotional, but I’ll put it aside. The important thing for us is to have a good performance and score points. “

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