March 31, 2017 – New York
Former Arsenal player, and current talkSPORT pundit, Perry Groves spoke to the Arseblog podcast about Arsene Wenger’s situation with the North London club. While MLS and New York City FC fans may not care about Wenger’s future, what he suggested about a certain 6’4” former midfielder might warrant a second look.
While speaking of Wenger’s situation at Arsenal, Groves was asked why there was a hold up in contract talks with the club. He suggested that the delay makes it appear as if Wenger is going to have his contract extended, though Groves admits he could be wrong. When asked to read into the situation further he wondered, “if there’s another announcement they’re going to make in conjunction with him saying that he’s going to stay. Whether it’s a change in the coaching staff, whether they say they’re going to release a lot of funds for him to spend next year, because they know it’s going to be a split amongst Arsenal fans.”
When asked if that second announcement, which Groves himself said was just him wondering out loud, could be a well-known former player could be coming back to be a director of football alongside Wenger he replied:
“Whether it’s a director of football, whether it’s a change to the coaching staff itself. I think maybe it needs more of a change to be hands on. So whether it’s a… I wouldn’t want to put a name to it, but if it’s a 6’4 dominant central midfield player that used to play for us and lead us by example. Who has been coaching over in America and has decided he wants to come back … that sort of person.”
“Not mentioning any names though!”
While current NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira is 6’4” and was a dominant central midfield player for Arsenal who leads his current club by example, New York City fans can breathe a sigh of relief as it was prefaced with the statement “I could be wrong.”
Groves isn’t the only former Gunner to tip Vieira as the next manager of the Premier League club. In fact, Groves seems to be echoing current Sky Sports broadcaster Paul Merson who previously tipped Vieira to be the next manager, telling Sky Sports “I wouldn’t be surprised if [Wenger] stays a year and then Patrick Vieira comes in,” a few weeks ago.
Vieira is still held in high regard by Arsenal fans, and his coaching debut with NYCFC last season has earned him praise on both sides of the Atlantic. Though, Vieira himself may not be so amenable to the idea of working with the man who once snubbed him:
“Had he wanted me to work alongside him, he would have asked me,” he told reporters in 2015.
“Both the club and Arsene have behaved disappointingly towards me. Everywhere I go people ask me why Arsene didn’t give me the chance to work with him.”
Vieira joined Manchester City’s front office following his retirement as a player in 2011 after not receiving any offers from Arsenal.
It was Manchester City who gave him the opportunity to coach. Vieira was given control of MCFC’s Elite Development Squad in 2013. His coaching success for the academy team caught the attention of several premier clubs. Newcastle United interviewed Vieira for the managerial position in 2015 however both sides disagreed over the clubs recruitment policy and decided to move on. Eventually New York City FC’s front office extended the offer to name him coach of their side in November of 2015.
In his time at the helm of NYCFC, Vieira has quickly brought in several European players and established the team as a force to be reckoned with in MLS. He led NYCFC to their first-ever playoff appearance after finishing second in the Eastern Conference last season. Despite the early playoff exit, the season was considered a success by many.
Patrick Vieira is currently in his second year coaching NYCFC. He remains under contract through the end of the 2018 MLS season.