Mikel Arteta to Arsenal: Is he the right man?
I have strong reservations about Mikel Arteta’s supposed favourite status, in replacing Arsene Wenger as our manager.
I don’t think he’s a legend per se, but so what? There are many players whom I value but in my mind aren’t legends. Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, and Monreal, are examples of that in the current squad. It’s unfair to say that Arteta offered us nothing as a player though.
However, I guess I’m trying to reason out based on a common saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. This isn’t to disrespect Arteta, but he’s not the kind of manager we need. Incidentally, my favoured option would be Allegri since he fits the bill. And he even fits Gazidis’s stated requirements too. He plays good football, likes youth development, and needs a higher challenge.
That said, whilst in principle I do not agree with Arteta’s appointment, there are reasons why I believe it could work. Or why it may be a positive thing.
He knows the club
Having played for Arsenal from 2011 to 2016, and along with Mertesacker, the outstanding signing of the post 8-2 defeat rush, he knows what we’re about. Yes, Wenger has gone. Yes, a lot of his then teammates have gone too. A number would have played with him in the current team, though many have departed.
But he does know our culture, the fans, and is still respected by us as a valuable player (though to reiterate not a legend in my mind). He knows that “sexy football” is part of our club’s DNA and core values, and seemingly from his time here, his education in Spain, and working with Pep, he is fully cognizant of this.
It is a boon to know what a club is about, prior to joining.
He is learning under Pep
Guardiola is arguably the greatest manager in the world now. Yes, he hasn’t won the Champions League in a while but this season City got 100 points, won 32 games, and won two trophies (one against us no less). This has been a record-breaking season for him, and City. Now, Arteta has been deemed instrumental in this, and the players and Pep alike have stated how his positive influence has emboldened all.
So considering the success they’ve had, and the players with whom he is working, it’s opportune for a strong future career in management and not just coaching.
He is highly rated by others in the game
It’s said that Poch, no less, from Arsenal’s “good friends in the N17 London postcode", personally told Arteta that he was good enough to manage a team on his own strength and not remain an assistant. Imagine an opening North London Derby where we smash Poch, eh? His views would ironically be proven true.
Moreover, Wenger has praised his leadership skills, as has Mertesacker. It seems his coaching skills are seen as worthy of building as well.
It’s clear that he wants to succeed in management. And to see his friends like Pochettino, Pep, and Wenger as inspiration and encouragement is a fine thing for anybody.
He is hungry/ambitious
It seems he can be a boon, in terms of his desire to learn and succeed. And in any walk of life, the skill to expand and grow and be the best is telling. Pep and Wenger attained great success since they were/are ambitious. As is Mourinho, Ancelotti, Enrique, Conte, Klopp, Allegri, Valverde, Zidane, or any other top manager. It’s a prerequisite for any top manager.
So whilst these are positive, there are several critical negatives as well"
He may be fine for a lower-tier Premier League club, or a Championship team, or a smaller club in La Liga like Getafe, Numancia, Racing Santander, etc but we are THE Arsenal. We’re one of the world’s biggest football clubs, and it takes a person of a given quality and experience to manage us.
The pressures, for one, of taking us over, are something Arteta would be ill-equipped for.
“Oh, but who had heard of Wenger?”
Yes, on the surface, this is true. Wenger was unknown and untested at the highest level prior to coming here. Granted he won a title at Monaco, but the French league then and now was nothing on par with the English top division.
Moreover, Arsenal of 1996 was not like the Arsenal of 2018. In part, this was due to Wenger of course. We have been a big club for many years. However, the demands, competition, and risks are greater. Had Wenger turned out rubbish in 1996, then we’d have got somebody else. There was no top four, no Champions League, and TV revenues were not as high as they are now. There would also have been no social media to cause an added headache to the club.
So the risk of Wenger then is nothing like the risk of Arteta now. Back then, we could handle a hit on Wenger. Can we handle a hit on Arteta? Not as much, in my view.
Most of the other top six have proven managers. Granted, Poch has won naff all. But he did have Premier League experience at Southampton, and in Spain also. Pep, of course, as with Mourinho, come with their own storied records. And Klopp, a potential Champions League winner no less, did win the Bundesliga in noted fashion. Conte also had major success with Juve, and Wenger whilst departed attained greatness with us. So Arteta would be left-field, certainly.
Real/Barca – no comparison
Zidane and Pep, who were/are at the two biggest clubs in the world, were both ingrained into their systems prior to managing. It was, or is in Zidane’s case, akin to Bertie Mee in the 1960s, or Paisley, Fagan, and Dalglish in the 70s and 80s at Liverpool. They were part of the respective Arsenal and Liverpool staff and knew the club, knew the players and knew the environment in which things functioned. If Arteta was currently a senior coach at our club, I’d feel more assured here. But he’s not, and it adds to the angst.
As THE Arsenal, we need a big name to match our standing
There is a reason why United got Mourinho. Not only is he a winner, he is also a huge name in contemporary football management. The same is true of Pep. Chelsea got Conte for this reason, and Klopp too has gravitas. Zidane hadn’t managed before, but then he is one of the best midfielders ever. Yes, great players don’t automatically make great managers. But then his name is held in high regard. Allegri too has bang for his buck, as it were.
So to get Arteta is a very bold and odd appointment for a club like Arsenal. Managers such as Allegri, or even Ancelotti, would far suit who we are and where we wish to go.
I am, though, willing to give Arteta a chance. And that’s IF we get him. And this remains a very large IF. As a fanbase, we need to chill, and not react negatively as much. We demanded change, and we’ve got it. So we cannot moan when we’ve attained what we want. There are some who seemingly thrive on conflict, but for me, I just want some harmony, and I will hope and trust that Arteta can do well for us IF he is appointed.
Could he be our Zidane? Who knows? Only time will tell.