With inconsistency ongoing at Arsenal under Unai Emery, speculation has grown over his potential replacement, should his time at the Emirates be cut short.
Jose Mourinho took centre stage last week as he was announced as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur but earlier this month, their North London rivals were reportedly open to the idea of appointing Mourinho amid rumours the Portuguese met with Arsenal’s head of football, Raul Sanllehi.
However, in an interview with play.com, former Arsenal full-back, Nigel Winterburn, said his former Club were always behind Tottenham in the race to sign The Special One.
“It’s difficult to approach another manager when you already have one in charge.
“You could say Tottenham were ahead of the game, but I don’t think it would have made much difference, I’m not sure Arsenal would have been able to get Jose Mourinho even if they had wanted him. His talks with Spurs were clearly going on behind the scenes for some time.”
Winterburn went on to say that no matter who is in charge at White Hart Lane, some Spurs fans will always find a reason to complain and should try to enjoy the prospect of finally having someone who can win their club a much-needed trophy.
“But for people saying ‘he’s not a good fit’ I ask them – well what is a good fit? Tottenham wanted a manager to come in who is a proven winner, who has won trophies at every club he’s been at. Some people might not be too excited about his style of play but if they have a trophy at the end of the season, they’ll soon change their minds.”
Winterburn says he will be intrigued to see how his former-rival-club will fair with Mourinho at the helm, but for obvious reasons, hopes their success is limited.
“What’s happening at Tottenham will be an interesting watch. We’ll see how far up the table they can get and how they get on in the Champions League, although I think the FA Cup is their best chance of silverware this season.
“But from my point of view, I’m hoping they’ll be way off the pace!”
Arsenal Can Forget About Champions League Next Season
Arsenal’s recent form has been nothing to shout about and if it continues, Winterburn told Gambling.com that they can forget about playing Champions League football next year:
“The last three home results have not been great – three draws – and when you add in to that the away performance at Leicester (a 2-0 defeat) a top-four finish at this point seems completely unrealistic.
“Supporters are finding it very difficult to believe that things are going to change radically throughout the rest of the season.
“I really have no idea if Arsenal will stick with Emery. He was brought in to improve the squad, change the mentality and get some consistency back.
“We’ve changed the squad around a fair bit but people are saying, if anything, we’re actually worse than we were a year-and-a-half ago before Arsene Wenger left.”
Pressure on for Emery
Winterburn believes the pressure really is on for the Spaniard and if Emery is going to see his contract out at the Emirates, he needs to turn things around immediately.
“I can tell you, once the crowd start making advances and chanting that they’re not happy, and if that continues without the form picking up, then the board will be left with very little option.
“So Unai Emery has got a massive job on his hands to convince the supporters that he’s the right man for the job, but any decision will come down to the board and the members that are in place to make such decisions.
“It’s looking very difficult for Unai. I think he needs to win a significant amount of games and he needs to start winning them very, very quickly.”
Spurs Hatred Would Be Too Much For Shock Poch Move
In a move that would break the hearts of Spurs fans, bookmakers have made Pochettino as short as 5/1 to be Arsenal’s next manager.
Considering the Argentine’s exemplary record in the Premier League, this is an appointment that could be welcomed by many Arsenal fans, but a move to the Gunners would be too much for anyone to handle right now, Winterburn told Gambling.com.
“It takes a very, very brave player or manager to make the switch directly from Spurs to Arsenal.
“People have done it in the past of course – I remember the reception Sol Campbell got when he made the switch in 2001 – but in the age of social media it’s a big ask, there’s so much hatred there.”
Even if Pochettino was tempted by the lure of a potential vacancy at Arsenal, Winterburn feels the rivalry between the two clubs would take too much of a toll on Pochettino’s personal life:
“If he has family and children, would he want them to be subject to the hatred that would come his way? And believe me, the hatred would come. In a way, it’s a little bit sad, but that’s football and it’s the way of the world now.”
Get Nigel Winterburn’s thoughts in full by reading his interview with Gambling.com here: