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Patrick Vieira & Arsenal: Why a return can happen - perhaps immediately

COMMENT: Timing is everything. And sometimes it just falls for you... Just ask the front office at Arsenal. Not 24 hours after the sacking of Unai Emery, news was breaking on the continent that one of the names among their shortlist of replacements was about to become available - and for nothing...

Manchester City will demand a fee for Mikel Arteta. Leicester City will insist on even more to allow Brendan Rodgers to leave. Max Allegri has no interest in taking up the job in midseason. And Mauricio Pochettino... well, does the board really want the baggage the ex-Spurs man will bring?

But what about an Invincible? Better yet, what about the captain of those Invincibles? To be fair, Patrick Vieira's name has been mentioned among the candidates to succeed Emery. But with little enthusiasm. At least, that's among those writing about the game.

But tor the ex-players - his ex-teammates - the Nice coach should be the priority. David Seaman, Ray Parlour and Emmanuel Petit have all voiced their support in the last 24 hours.

The club's leader during it's greatest period of modern times. Armband apart, one of the best to have pulled on a Gunners shirt. Four years of coaching experience behind him. Eight years of grounding in management. Vieira ticks all the boxes. And for those penny pinchers on Stan Kroenke's board, in the coming days the Frenchman could make it easy for even them to say 'yes'.

In France, it's not a question of 'if', but 'when' Vieira leaves Nice and the new Jim Ratcliffe regime. The 43 year-old is fed-up. Indeed, local sources say he could've walked at the beginning of November. The club's new owners imposing staffing changes on Vieira, including the hiring of assistant Adrian Ursea, who worked with Lucien Favre, the Borussia Dortmund coach, when the Swiss was in charge of OGCN. The previous board, led by former president Jean-Pierre Rivère, never forced any such demands on Vieira. Instead, he and ex-GM Julien Fournier were happy for Vieira to bring in his own staff last year. They encouraged it. In contrast, Vieira is finding the first suggestions of interference from on high. And such is his frustration, that those close to the coach say a split is inevitable - and could happen in a matter of days.

Indeed, another source is quoted in the local press claiming "discussions" among all parties are now underway. Whether Vieira quits without compensation; He's paid off; Or a third party - potentially Arsenal - buys out his contract... Vieira and the new Nice board are now negotiating how best to split up.

So for Arsenal. For the Kroenkes. It's fallen into their lap. Just a little prod from their end and Vieira could be theirs. And all signed and sealed before the weekend.

For this column, the appointment's a no brainer. Vieira knows the club inside-out. He commands respect amongst the players - as he does with the support. After so much division in recent years, Vieira is one man capable of uniting all the factions currently at eachother's throats.

His Nice boast the traits of an Arsene Wenger team - but with a harder edge. It was under Vieira that Allan Saint-Maximin won his move to Newcastle United. As it was under Vieira that Mario Balotelli was jettisoned back to Italy. He can recognise potential and bring it on. But he also won't suffer fools and disruptive influences. And as much as Emery attempted to drive a new culture through the dressing room, you do fancy Vieira - with everything he achieved with the club - having the gravitas to succeed where the Basque failed.

Two seasons with Nice. Another two in the 'States with New York City FC. All on the back on Manchester City's Florentino Perez-inspired apprenticeship scheme, where Vieira spent five years working various roles. From assistant to the sporting director. To academy coach. To academy director. The Frenchman learned the game inside-out and from top-to-bottom. Should Arsenal take the plunge he'll arrive with eight years of preparation behind him and primed and ready to rattle a few cages inside the Gunners locker room.

Arsenal need a change of mentality. As Petit put it on Saturday, the club needs a manager who can inspire "team spirit with anger and what it means to wear the Arsenal shirt".

To do that it's going to take someone with the right background, personality and experience. And no-one fits those requirements better than Vieira.

If that break happens this week. If it does actually fall for them. The board shouldn't hesitate. Patrick Vieira should be the next manager of Arsenal FC.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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