Alan Smith claims it is “an open secret” that former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is being recommended to Arsenal amid their ongoing struggles, with Mikel Arteta told he is going to have to show no weakness in order to “survive” the rumours.
The Gunners have continued to stumble out of the blocks in 2020-21, with their worst start made to a Premier League campaign.
Inability to establish any kind of momentum has the north London outfit languishing in the bottom-half of the table and glancing anxiously over their shoulder at the drop zone below them.
Unsurprisingly, questions are being asked of Arteta’s ongoing presence, with a rookie coach finding out the hard way just how tough life at the top can be.
Arsenal have offered no indication that they are contemplating another managerial change, but Smith says potential successors – including one notable Italian – are being lined up and that an inexperienced Spaniard needs to get his house in order at Emirates Stadium.
The former Gunners striker told the Evening Standard: “As an inexperienced boss finding life difficult just now, the Spaniard will quickly find out if he's got the backing of his players, particularly senior ones more willing to speak out.
“Because when results go against you, when the going gets tough, footballers start to complain. Nothing new there. That has always happened. But the modern day player holds a lot more sway. They are indeed more powerful as independent entities earning serious money.
“In addition, it's an open secret among football agents that Max Allegri, the Italian coach who enjoyed great success at Juventus, is being recommended as Arsenal's next manager.
“Not by the club I should stress, but by outside forces who want to capitalise on a difficult moment for the young manager. They seem to think Allegri would stand more of a chance, what with his years of experience in Serie A.
“To survive situations like this, Arteta needs unequivocal backing from those above. The management structure, led by chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and possibly including Stanley Kroenke's son Josh, must take decisive steps to publicly support their manager to avoid his authority getting undermined. Those recent words of support from Edu, the technical director, are a start but not enough.
“In tandem, Arteta has got to make clear to the dressing room who's calling the shots, who's actually in charge of this listing ship. Because if players sense weakness, attitudes can swiftly change. Respect for the boss starts falling away. That's why Arteta's message must be clear and strong.”
Arsenal, who have gone six Premier League games without a win stretching back to November 1, will return to action on Saturday when they take in a trip to Everton.