The boos at full time of Saturday’s home draw with Southampton might not have been so loud had Mauricio Pochettino not been sacked by Tottenham just days earlier. Indeed, the fates of Arsenal and Spurs are so intertwined that the heat has seemingly been turned up on Unai Emery as a byproduct of last week’s events on the other side of North London.
If Spurs are being proactive in stopping the rot, why aren’t Arsenal? That’s the question being asked by many Gooners weary at the dross served up by their team over the early part of the season. It appears Emery will survive for at least one more game in charge, but there is no more margin for error. Another result and performance like the one on Saturday and Emery will surely be gone.
Talk has already turned to potential replacements. Names like Mikel Arteta, Nuno Espirito Santo and Brendan Rodgers have been put forward, but luring a top tier candidate midway through the season is always difficult. There aren’t many suitable managers out of work or unattached. Well, there wasn’t until last week.
Pochettino would be the ideal Arsenal manager. The Argentine’s values and principles as a coach align perfect with that of the Gunners’ as a club. At Spurs, he proved himself willing to bring through and harness young players and adept at moulding a dynamic, modern side capable of playing entertaining football. That’s everything Arsenal are looking for.
More obviously attractive jobs may soon present themselves to Pochettino, with Bayern Munich already looking for a new manager following the sacking of Niko Kovac a few weeks ago. The Barcelona and Real Madrid jobs might also be on the radar very soon, with the latter in particular believed to be long-term admirers of Pochettino.
But at Arsenal, Pochettino would be given more time to mould a team. The Argentine is a coach in the truest sense and at the Emirates Stadium he would be afforded freedom to coach. Look at how much patience Emery has been shown despite showing next to nothing in the way of progress over the past 18 months.
Of course, it would be understandable if Pochettino plans on waiting until the summer to take his next job. He might want a transfer window and a full pre-season to mould any new team. But even if that proves to be the case, Arsenal should make their case to the Argentine and wait if that is what’s required.
Pochettino is a generational talent and Arsenal should do everything they can to persuade him he should stay in North London, even if it means treading water for the rest of the season. That would be a price worth paying. Freddie Ljungberg could take interim charge until then. The Gunners might even be able to lure back Arsene Wenger as a stop-gap solution to restore a feel good factor around the club until Pochettino is ready to take over.
The 47-year-old might also be concerned with the reaction his arrival at the Emirates Stadium would prompt from his former supporters. He’d be labelled the managerial Sol Campbell. There would, however, be a crucial difference. While Campbell forced his way out of Tottenham, Pochettino was sacked. He could make the point that he never wanted to leave, that he’d still be at the club were it not for the hasty decision of Daniel Levy. And that he only accepted Arsenal’s offer because he needed a new job.
Some might argue that any Arsenal move for Pochettino would be unrealistic, but it’s about time the Gunners under their current leadership demonstrated some ambition. With every season Arsenal fall further adrift of the Premier League and European elite, the more difficult it becomes for them to claw their way back.
They need someone to change the culture around the club just as Wenger famously did in the late 1990s. That’s the sort of shakeup required. Pochettino was always compared to Wenger during his time at Spurs, so who better to emulate the former Arsenal boss than the man widely seen as his modern day successor?