Time for Arséne to bring back Vieira

Paddy for Paddy?

The first thing Arséne Wenger did when he signed for Arsenal from Grampus 8, weeks before he was even due to join the club full time while he ran down his Japanese contract, was sign two players.

The first was Remi Garde, an unspectacular but solid midfielder.

The other was Patrick Vieira, one of the youngest captains in French football who had lost his way at AC Milan.

From the first time he took to the field against Sheffield Wednesday, we knew we had one hell of a player on our hands.

Able to turn defence into attack with a single pass, he created a wall few forward lines could walk through. Our current team should take note, given the ease they have allowed high quality opposition take them apart recently.

But there was more to Paddy than just good play. He was a battler, a winner, someone who gave his all for the good of the team. When you lined up against Arsenal, against Patrick Vieira’s team, you knew you’d been in a game.

There are many ways to play football, many ways to win matches, but even the greatest of flair teams had an enforcer, someone to win the ball, someone to battle and, dare I say it, intimidate the opposition.

Remember when Gary Neville starting mouthing off in the tunnel at Highbury? Paddy stepped in and starting giving him a piece of his mind. That is what we miss.

There were reports today that Pat Rice could be leaving the club this summer, which the club has since denied.

A loyal servant, a great defender and someone whose warm-up drills seem perfectly adequate, perhaps a new face alongside Wenger in the dugout is just what Le Professeur needs..

Arsenal need new impetus, someone to bounce ideas off with Wenger.

If Ivan Gazidis was being honest at the AST meeting on Monday, Wenger is not the self-righteous, all-knowing manager we might think he is.

It’s fair to say, as Gazidis pointed out, that Wenger is willing to take the criticism himself rather than let his players, especially the younger ones, bear the brunt of the criticism.

But the best way to avoid anyone getting criticism is to win matches, to win trophies.

And with his career nearly at an end, now would be the perfect time to bring him back to Arsenal, the club that is in his heart, the club where he enjoyed his greatest successes, as Pat Rice's long-term replacement.

Can you imagine the boost it would give us all if he returned?

Having played just over 50 games in three years at Inter, it’s fair to say that his playing career is almost over.

Joining and then replacing Rice as assistant manager would bring so many benefits.

The young players would have someone to look up to, someone who would show them what it’s like to win, what it means to compete, what it means to use every last sinew, every last breath in the pursuit of glory.

There’s no coincidence that when Paddy left, so did a unique element of our competitiveness, and his last act for the club happened to be hitting the winning penalty in the 2005 FA Cup final – our last trophy.

Wenger and Vieira would be a combination of the brains and brawn that took us to some incredible moments of glory – and by bringing back his prodigal son, perhaps Wenger would learn a thing or two as well.