His last kick for Arsenal ensured the FA Cup belonged to The Gunners, ending a fantastic spell of leadership, with a trophy in every year of his reign as club captain. Little did Patrick Vieira know then; the next 7 years in the red half of North London would not see another trophy lifted.
Nowadays, the Senegalese born Frenchman finds himself as football development executive at Manchester City. Having just overseen his team win the title in emphatic style, Vieira is no doubt content in his role.
But what about his former club? Couldn’t they benefit with someone in such a role? Arsenal have struggled in the last 8 years, and more often than not there has been a cry for leadership. Someone to take charge when things aren’t going well, who can provide an excellent example for all of those youngsters that appear to be inherent in Arsene Wenger’s squad selections.
Pat Rice’s retirement brings in Steve Bould as the new assistant manager at The Emirates. Bould has been there for previous Arsenal successes, playing a crucial role in that legendary back four that won the double in 1997/98.
Maybe one of Bould’s former colleagues could prove to be the character this Arsenal side needs to be successful. In someone such as Nigel Winterburn or Martin Keown for example, there would be a figure between the coaching staff and the players, someone who has won trophies in the past and can provide leadership. Like Bould, they would both be very familiar and supportive of Arsene Wenger’s philosophies.
At City, Vieira plays a key role in the development of youngsters, working closely with commercial partners and helping to deliver the clubs social responsibility programme.
The development of youngsters was something that Wenger turned to following the departures of players such as Vieira, Campbell and Bergkamp between 2004 and 2006. Bergkamp is now assistant manager at Ajax, overseeing a youthful team alongside Frank De Boer. The development of the Arsenal players in 2007 was lead by William Gallas, and his infamous outburst after Arsenal capitulated in the race for league title saw him lose the captaincy. Maybe Gallas throwing his toys out of the pram at Birmingham was because he a winner, and one of the few who had already been there and done it, realising the importance of premier league success to Arsenal Football Club.
Current club captain Robin Van Persie has only won one trophy with Arsenal, and the rest of the side have yet to win any major honours at all in North London. The arrival of an ambassador such as Vieira could be the difference for Arsenal. After all, Vieira’s first year at City saw them win their first league title in 44 years.
Whilst securing someone at Arsenal to play the same role as Vieira does at City will not guarantee success, it could be a step in the right direction for The Gunners. 7 years trophy-less and the persistent cries for a leader have been a massive source of frustration for fans. By having somebody to play the role between the coaching staff and the players, assist youth development and still remain loyal to the clubs philosophies, Arsenal could be on their way to great success.
Do Arsenal need someone like Vieira to play a similar role? Is the arrival of Steve Bould enough? I would love to hear your opinions: @ultimate_dav