Our strange world has made Patrick Vieira the favorite to manage Mike Ashley’s Newcastle

Former France midfielder Patrick Vieira was one of the keys to Arsenal’s success in the late 1990s and 2000s, which is why many fans were upset when he joined Manchester City’s coaching staff in 2011 after retiring. It seemed like the intelligent, determined Vieira would be a natural choice to be personally groomed by Arsène Wenger as his successor. Instead, he went north to work for a rival, rising up City’s ranks to become youth and reserves boss.

With the 65-year-old Wenger about to enter his 20th year in North London, it doesn’t look like there will be a vacancy at the Emirates any time soon. But the manager’s office at Newcastle is currently unoccupied. Strangely, ex-Toronto FC guru John Carver isn’t going to keep the top job and will return to being an assistant, despite a 3-13-4 record that featured eight straight defeats, surviving relegation on the last day even though they were 10th when Alan Pardew left, and an admission that the players were no longer listening to him after he accused one of deliberately getting sent off. Honestly, what’s not to like?

The Newcastle Chronicle reports that Vieira is the firm favorite to take charge at Newcastle, with ex-England manager Steve McClaren second favorite. That’s quite a statement of faith in Vieira’s potential, considering he doesn’t have any first-team coaching experience and hasn’t reportedly quite completed his pro licence qualification. And if Newcastle don’t get the right manager in place this summer, it will surely going to get relegated next season.

Quite how Vieira — or indeed anyone with any kind of personality or ambition — would survive or thrive in owner Mike Ashley’s torpid regime is unclear. But maybe, if he somehow flourishes in the next couple of years, he’ll be ready to replace Wenger having performed his coaching apprenticeship elsewhere.