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Mikel Arteta to Arsenal too much of a gamble in life after Arsene Wenger

The hunt for Arsenal's new manager is underway. Arsene Wenger might still be in the job, but the Gunners can not afford to wait until the end of the season before approaching their intended target.

Discussions will already be taking place at boardroom level about who exactly should succeed the Frenchman. According to reports on Monday night, former Arsenal skipper Mikel Arteta is the preferred choice of chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

That's not necessarily a move to fill the Arsenal fans with confidence. While Arteta is a popular figure at the club, he would represent a huge gamble.

The Arsenal hierarchy are right to press ahead with their search for a new boss. This is an unusually condensed summer, with an earlier transfer deadline and a World Cup meaning the incoming Arsenal boss will have very little time to oversee any renovations. In ordinary circumstances, the club might be minded to avoid interviewing potential candidates until Wenger had cleared his office. In this year of all years, that represents too great a risk.

In truth, Gazidis & Co. no excuse for being ill-prepared. They have known this day was coming for some time. The indications are that Wenger's departure has been on the cards for some months now, but irrespective of that Gazidis has long known this moment was inevitable. He joined the club in 2009, and has had the best part of a decade to prepare for the succession.

Arteta's name is relatively new to the mix. After all, he only retired from playing two years ago. After an injury-ravaged last few seasons at Arsenal, he left the club to take up a role as first-team coach under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The fact he became the first confirmed member of Guardiola's staff at the Etihad was seen as an acknowledgement of Arteta's football acumen. Over the subsequent two seasons, his role has grown significantly. Guardiola has picked him out for praise on more than one occasion during this title-winning campaign.

However, he is still hugely inexperienced. Ultimately, Arteta has never managed a single game of football. Expectations may have been lowered by Arsenal's recent league performances, but there is still likely to be a great deal of pressure on Wenger's successor to deliver. An unruly fanbase may not have the patience to wait while Arteta comes to terms with the demands of the job.

Compare his credentials to another former Arsenal captain: Patrick Vieira. The 41-year-old has coached City's development squad, and has since led New York City FC to the top of the MLS table. He might be yet to prove himself as a coach in Europe, but he is at least working at the coalface. If Gazidis is looking for an appointment to unify the fanbase, perhaps the Frenchman would be a better bet.

Quite how Arsenal have allowed both Arteta and Vieira to slip through the net and end up in City's clutches is another matter entirely. It is embarrassing that two former heroes are effectively in the employment of a supposed rival.

This summer, Arsenal have an opportunity to address that situation. Either Arteta or Vieira would surely be sorely tempted by the prospect of taking the big job at Arsenal. However, Gazidis and the rest of the board must be careful not to make a sentimental choice.

There are plenty of candidates out there who have already proved their credentials. Luis Enrique and Leonardo Jardim may not have a historic affiliation with Arsenal, but they have achieved success with major European sides.

This is a pivotal moment in Arsenal's history, and it might be prudent to entrust the job with someone with significant experience already under their belt.

James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.


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