Better than any of his detractors, the Frenchman knows that his days as the totemic pillar of a Premier League midfield are finished.
Already Vieira is looking to the future. Indeed, his move to Manchester City is understood to be motivated less by a nostalgia for his Arsenal achievements, or any desire to revive those days of yore, than by a strategy to develop the next phase of his career – in coaching.
There is more than one way in which Vieira can act as a conduit for Mancini. His natural mould as a midfield enforcer means the manager's messages can be imparted with extra emphasis. His equal fluency in Italian and English surely helps, too. But so limited is the 33 year-old's shelf life on the pitch that, as part of a City deal that could run for 18 months or more, a role off it is also envisaged.
This is entirely plausible and could well be a strategy of Mancini's to not only bring in a player he trusts into the fold, but one who has an intimate understanding of the Premier League as despite reports of Mancini fastidiously studying the Premier League over the past year or so, apart from Brian Kidd (who may have been thrust upon him), the current staff have no experience of working in the Premier League, something the Telegraph piece expands on:
He should find fertile ground for this ambition at City, if rumours of an awkward dynamic between Mancini and assistant Brian Kidd are any gauge. Kidd's appointment at the same time as Mancini's had the feel of a sentimental one, providing some English grit to temper the surfeit of Latin sophistication.
Vieira would unquestionably be a better fit: his authority would go unchallenged by any of the players, and he could offer assistance of the same uncomplicated sort with which Stuart Pearce has furnished Fabio Capello. At a stroke, the dressing room would be a livelier place.
For further proof of this as a possibility, consider that Mancini himself got his introduction into the world of coaching under Sven-Goran Eriksson, who took him to Lazio in the latter days of his own playing career. There has been plenty of testimony since Mancini assumed the reigns with us of his influence as an 'on-field lieutenant'. Mancini of course then got his break with Fiorentina, before returning to Lazio.
Vieira too no doubt now has one eye on his post-playing career. He may well harbour ambitions of making the French World Cup squad, but the recent evidence does not support this. He will know his playing days (at age 33 and suffering an increasing number of niggling injuries) are approaching their twilight, and it was also reported that Arsene Wenger regards his coaching potential highly.
If then, his relationship with Mancini is as close and bonded as we are led to believe, this may well by why, far from solely being a short-term move, the addition of Vieira could likely be a canny piece of long term planning by Mancini.