Arse­nal lacks bite: Vieira

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

NEW YORK — Arse­nal fans watch­ing the limp 0-0 draw with Le­ices­ter City on Satur­day, an­other game with yet an­other wrong re­sult, were no doubt cry­ing out for the pas­sion and lead­er­ship of Pa­trick Vieira and his team of In­vin­ci­bles as they de­manded that Arsene Wenger opens his cheque­book.

The French­man has of­fered his own assess­ment of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, say­ing he can un­der­stand the lev­els of frus­tra­tion at the team’s “dis­ap­point­ing” per­for­mances and the lack of new sign­ings by Wenger so far this sum­mer.

He said the cur­rent Arse­nal team lack the phys­i­cal­ity and per­son­al­ity of his In­vin­ci­bles gen­er­a­tion. The club should look to for­mer play­ers such as Thierry Henry, Fred­die Ljung­berg and Robert Pires to in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion, he said, and he crit­i­cised the club for shut­ting the door to for­mer stars.

“In one way” he ad­mires Wenger’s “brave” pol­icy of not cav­ing into pres­sure and bring­ing play­ers in for the sake of it, even when the fans de­mand change.

“I quite ad­mire that, in the world where some clubs have so much money, they go and buy play­ers who pay £40m and are worth £10m,” he said.

“But on the other side, the team is not do­ing as good as it used to and you need to win football matches.

“They’ve been dis­ap­point­ing, los­ing games they should have won”, he said in New York, where he now man­ages Ma­jor League Soc­cer side New York City FC, and agreed that last sea­son was a huge missed op­por­tu­nity to win the league.

Wenger him­self said af­ter the Le­ices­ter game that he was will­ing to spend big money - but only on the right play­ers - and has to be “re­spon­si­ble”.

Look­ing back at the ‘ In­vin­ci­bles’, Vieira said the dif­fer­ence be­tween the 2004 vin­tage and to­day’s side was stark. Arse­nal have not won a Premier League ti­tle since that un­beaten sea­son.

“My gen­er­a­tion had lots of phys­i­cally strong play­ers. In this last five or six years, Arse­nal went more with this type of mo­bile, tech­ni­cal play­ers,” he ex­plained.

“The In­vin­ci­bles had it all. For me it was like the French na­tional team in 1998, when we had phys­i­cal play­ers, play­ers with flair, play­ers with pace, it was quite a sim­i­lar kind of team.

“Now when I watch Arse­nal, yes they play good football but I just have a feel­ing they are miss­ing some­thing - the phys­i­cal pres­ence, the per­son­al­ity, this is what they’re miss­ing.”

Vieira said he could not un­der­stand why the club was not al­low­ing for­mer play­ers such as Henry, Ljung­berg and Pires both to de­velop their own coach­ing and man­age­ment skills and help to in­flu­ence and in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of play­ers com­ing through.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed not to have ex-arse­nal play­ers work­ing at Arse­nal,” said Vieira, who said he was a big fan of the club and al­ways looked for their re­sult first.

“It is good for the young play­ers who could see an Henry, Ljung­berg, Camp­bell or Ke­own who have been at the club a good few years work­ing in the Academy, or work­ing some­where. I think they can do it a bit more.

“Play­ers want to do it but do not have the op­por­tu­nity. I don’t un­der­stand it. The per- fect ex­am­ple is Ajax - you see all the old play­ers work­ing for the club, on the field, in the of­fice - the door is al­ways open for them - but Arse­nal don’t do it and I don’t know why,” he said.

The French­man said he had been given that chance by Manch­ester City, where in he was given a youth de­vel­op­ment role in 2011 and that he was sure his for­mer In­vi­ci­bles could make the dif­fer­ence at Arse­nal if given sim­i­lar op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Vieira’s pas­sion for the game, which led to some of the Premier League’s most mem­o­rable mo­ments no­tably his fiery clashes with Manch­ester United and Roy Keane, still burns strongly.

He said he was lov­ing his first sea­son in New York, where he man­ages Frank Lam­pard, An­drea Pirlo and David Silva, and has guided the team to the top of the East­ern Con­fer­ence. While things are go­ing well in Amer­ica, Vieira’s goal is even­tu­ally to man­age one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Dur­ing the tran­si­tion from play­ing to man­age­ment, the French­man said he has had to learn to con­trol his tem­per and men­tally take a step back - he has learnt from mis­takes of the past, he said, where his tem­per got the bet­ter of him - but that he did not want to sac­ri­fice any of his edge.

“I don’t want to change. I want to be more un­der con­trol, but I don’t want to change,” the elo­quent Vieira ex­plained.

“I have to be my­self, the in­ten­sity, the love for the game, the pas­sion for the game - if I lose that, I’m not go­ing to be a coach. That is who I am, and I don’t want to change it.”

Vieira backed Pep Guardi­ola to be a huge suc­cess at City - and em­pathised with Joe Hart, who has fallen out of favour at East­lands and is likely to leave.

“It’s dif­fi­cult for Joe of course, I know Joe re­ally well and he did re­ally well for City so it must be a re­ally dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion for him to live with.

But when you have a new coach com­ing in with a new style of play, and new way of de­fend­ing and the coach makes a call - but of course it’s dif­fi­cult for Joe and for the man­ager as well be­cause he’s an im­por­tant player for the football club.”

Vieira had a word of warn­ing for Paul Pogba, his fel­low French­man, that the in­ten­sity and pres­sure of the Premier League would be hard to adapt to.

“I think he’s a fan­tas­tic player, no doubt about it, but at the same time I believe the Premier League is dif­fer­ent, and there will be a lot of pres­sure on his shoul­ders be­cause of the price tag and ex­pec­ta­tion.

He will have to find the right bal­ance be­cause if he thinks he will win games by him­self that will be a mas­sive mis­take for him, if he tries to do some­thing that he can’t do that will be a mas­sive mis­take as well,” he said.

“I read some­thing in­ter­est­ing from Mour­inho that he (Pogba) will win as much as Messi or Ron­aldo and that is nor­mal.

“If peo­ple are ex­pect­ing him to score 40 goals a sea­son, that will not be the case, but he can make a dif­fer­ence with his phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal abil­ity.”

When asked whether Pogba, who has been la­belled ‘the new Pa­trick Vieira’, could match his achieve­ments in Eng­land, he joked: “The price they paid, he has to!”

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