PATRICK VIEIRA believes a takeover by Daniel Ek would turn Arsenal back into a united family — like Leicester.
The Gunners legend felt the emotional Wembley celebrations of Foxes chairman ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha, players and staff were bittersweet — a reminder of what Arsenal once had but seem to have lost under Stan Kroenke.
Ex-skipper Vieira said: “Seeing Leicester winning the FA Cup and the chairman celebrating with the players reminded me of Arsenal when we were at Highbury.
“It’s really good for the Premier League, and football in general, because that shows that the togetherness and spirit of a club is maybe more important than the money that you have in the bank.
“Leicester showed what a football club should be today — football is still the people’s game and all about the passion. The chairman, the players, the fans . . . you see them as a family.
“When you look at Arsenal in the last couple of years and the gap that exists between the Kroenkes and the fans, and the Kroenkes and the players, that is something that is really difficult in a football club.”
Vieira’s last act as an Arsenal player was to score the winning penalty in the 2005 FA Cup final shootout win over Manchester United.
The season before the Gunners had gone the whole Premier League season unbeaten en route to lifting the title.
Reflecting on an era when the club lifted trophy after trophy, Vieira said: “When you look at Arsenal in the Arsene Wenger era, you always had this kind of figure — a strong personality who could represent the football club.
“You had players like Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, who had been at the club for years.
“When you got there, those players made you understand the DNA of the football club, what Arsenal really means.
“Through the years, Arsenal has lost a little bit of identity — not just on the field but off the field as well.
“Seeing Arsenal not be one of the teams that can challenge for the Premier League or not be one of the teams guaranteed to play Champions League football is frustrating, because that is not what we are used to with Arsenal Football Club. I think the club deserves much better than that.”
For Vieira, Arsenal’s involvement with the failed European Super League project was just one indication of how out of touch the Kroenke regime remains.
The former midfielder, 44, said: “I think that is one of the breaches, not understanding what the fans want and what are the values of this club.
“I think it’s also, how many times did the Kroenkes go to a game to watch Arsenal play?
“How many times did they go to see the players? How many times did they meet with the fans?
“The three Invincibles have never met Stan Kroenke at all during his entire ownership of the football club.
“All these kinds of questions, if you get the answer, it will tell you how big the gap is between the Kroenkes and the fans.”
That gap will be in evidence this afternoon, with thousands of Arsenal fans set to protest against the current regime before, during and after the final game of the season against Brighton.
But why do Vieira and fellow Invincibles Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp believe that Spotify founder Ek is the right man to bring back the good old days?
Vieira said: “I find him to be someone who knows a lot about Arsenal, loves Arsenal and is a true Arsenal fan.
“What Daniel will bring to this table is building the relationship with the fans. Having fans on the board is something that Daniel is prepared to discuss.
“Having the fans understand they are part of what Daniel will try to build is really important.”
Even if Swedish billionaire Ek succeeds in persuading Arsenal’s American chiefs to sell, there will be no quick fix.
The current owners have put barely any of their own money into Arsenal and Vieira believes that Ek will be prepared to invest in the squad.
Patrick gunning for work
GUNNERS legend Patrick Vieira is ready to work again following his painful sacking by Nice.
But the Frenchman insists he and fellow Invincibles Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry have not talked about what roles they might have if Daniel Ek succeeds in taking over the club.
Vieira, whose 18 months as Nice boss ended last December, said: “When you have been a player and overall had quite a successful career, for the first couple of weeks after being sacked it’s difficult
to get back to your feet.
“What was really important for me was to analyse what didn’t work, what as a manager I can improve. I have those answers and I’m prepared now to go again.
“We have experience we can bring to the football club.”
But from his time playing at Manchester City, then coaching at the Etihad and managing sister club New York City, he knows that it takes more than cash to create success.
He said: “Of course people will talk a lot about the money but if you put the money on the side, you see about how those guys work.
“There is a link, there is communication, there is a business strategy understanding, there is a sporting strategy understanding — they are working together.
“They have a manager, in Pep Guardiola, who is leading the sporting direction and he has the support of the sporting director and the CEO.
“Building a successful football club is not just about the money.
“It’s about the people, about the strategy that you want, it’s about organising the football you want to play, the players you want to recruit, and the philosophy you want to implement.
“That is as important as going and spending money to buy players.”
That was the message that Leicester sent out to the world when beating Chelsea at Wembley last weekend.
Vieira added: “In my time, Arsenal was like a family and the Leicester atmosphere is reminding me a lot of Arsenal at that time
“I think Daniel can be the right person to bring back this union that you used to have at this football club between the fans, players and the ownership.”
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