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Arsenal deserve better: Why Gazidis & Kroenke should put jobs on the line over Arteta hire

COMMENT: Ivan Gazidis. Josh Kroenke. They need to put their names to this. Their reputations. Their jobs. If Mikel Arteta is to be appointed Arsenal's next manager, then the men behind this decision need to live or die with him.

Arsenal deserve better than this. Much, much better. They're bigger than a roll of the dice. An experiment. A hope for the best. Two seasons as an assistant coach doesn't prepare you for a job of this size. It shouldn't even be enough to get you an interview. How, on merit, Arteta even qualifies for consideration ahead of a Sean Dyche or an Eddie Howe is beyond this column. Please, if you have an idea, enlighten us below.

But this is Arsenal. Stan Kroenke's Arsenal. The one - now sansArsene Wenger - run by chief exec Gazidis and the owner's son. The one that appears on the brink of rescuing Arteta from pushing cones around the Etihad campus and naming him their next manager.

Two seasons working under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City doesn't qualify you for this. No pattern of play. No staff relationships. No record of team selection. No record of team management. No bloody record in the transfer market. No. No. No. There's nothing. Absolutely nothing those championing Arteta today can hang their hat on.

Zinedine Zidane will lead Real Madrid into a third consecutive Champions League final next Saturday. This was no fluke. Seven years. It was seven years of working various roles inside the club before Florentino Perez gave Zidane the Castilla job. Then another 18 months before the president removed Rafa Benitez and placed the Frenchman in charge of the first team. His reward? Well, we've been witness to it for the past three seasons.

Or what about closer to home? A Gooner. A legend. How is Patrick Vieira feeling today? The New York City FC coach took a call from Gazidis, but was left unimpressed. Those close to the former Arsenal captain say Vieira believed Gazidis was just going through the motions. There was no real interest in hiring him. And why not? After all, two years in the City front office. Two more years in charge of City's development squad. And now a two seasons as head coach of NYCFC. All that experience. That know-how. Everything gained from seven years of grounding. Why bother with that, when clearly the Spaniard with two years blowing a whistle at City training is available?

Oh, but it gets better. Because should he arrive, Arteta will have to rebuild the backroom staff. For at the moment, there isn't any. Gazidis and Kroenke have made sure of that. Anyone connected to Wenger is gone. Even popular physio Colin Lewin has been kicked out, upsetting many of the players in the process.

So does Arteta have experience working with assistants? Other coaches? Fitness staff? Anyone? We all know the answer. Yes, Jens Lehmann has been asked to stay on. As has Steve Bould. But neither are yet to commit.

"I left a lot of experience behind me," argued Wenger just yesterday when discussing Arteta, "people who were with me like Steve Bould, who has six years' experience, and Jens Lehmann too."

Yes, but that experience is being dismantled before our eyes. Even the speculation of whom could be added is worrying.

Santi Cazorla as Arteta's No2. Freddie Ljungberg to take charge of the U23s. No, really, that's the latest doing the rounds around London. Out of the pair of them, only Ljungberg has experience in coaching as assistant at VfL Wolfsburg - which lasted barely months. Crucially for the mooted U23 boss, there's no record of developing and bringing through young talent.

But that doesn't appear a concern for Gazidis and Kroenke. But it should. And they should put their jobs on the line. Like any sports director on the continent. If their coaching hire flops, they follow him out the exit door. This should be the same demanded of those responsible appointing Arteta.

Raul Sanllehi isn't involved in this. Nor Sven Mislintat. They both have their favourites. And both have championed experience. No, this is a board decision. A choice of those with zero football experience. Okay, okay, Gazidis has his MLS background. But this runs deeper. He can't pick a player like Mislintat. He's never persuaded a South American to make the jump to Europe like Sanllehi. They've lived it, seen it, and have the t-shirt. And both know this is setting up the club for a big, big fall.

If Gazidis and Kroenke truly believe they know better. That the approaches of Florentino Perez or Ferran Soriano, City's football chief, are pure folly. Then they should stake their jobs on the success of the Arteta era at Arsenal.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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