Mikel Arteta seems to be moving ever closer to the Arsenal manager’s job and while fans debate the merits of having him take over from their most successful manager ever, Arsene Wenger thinks the Spaniard will do ‘very well’.
Since leaving Arsenal, Wenger has not spoken about Arteta, but we know from his comments when the midfielder was still at the club that he rates him very highly.
With just two years’ experience at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, he has not taken charge of a single competitive football match, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering Ivan Gazidis who is looking for a head coach, not a manager.
“First of all, he [Arteta] was the captain of the team, so he has leadership qualities,” Wenger said to Arsenal Player almost two years ago.
“He is a winner and he is focused every day to do well.
“He has an impact on his partners. That is a little bit difficult to explain sometimes, but I believe he is highly focused on football. He has a passion, like Spanish people do, for the game.
“When you get to 30 you start to envisage your life and your future without playing football.
“Slowly it matures inside you and there was never a doubt in my mind, the way I see him behave every day, that he would finish in football, and I think he will do very well.”
Rumours that Arteta could become Arsenal manager started with an exclusive from the Telegraph at the end of December.
At the time, it was a report that was well-received by Arsenal fans, if this is anything to go by. Ex-player, currently working under one of the best managers in world football. What more could you want, eh?
I can see why Arsenal fans would want Arteta, but if they wanted an ex-player who’s been an assistant to one of the world’s best managers, why not give the job to Steve Bould?
Same thing, right?
Or is Bould now tainted by association to Arsene Wenger in the same way Ryan Giggs is tainted by association to Louis van Gaal? That would be desperately unfair, but the desire for a clean slate and a fresh approach if Arsenal fail to meet expectations will leave no room for sentimentality for those currently employed at the club.
There’s also the fact it’s not just any manager Arteta is currently working for, it’s Pep. The idea that Arsenal could get the next Guardiola is a tantalising one, but let me run the following list of names past you:
- Brian Kidd
- Steve McClaren
- Carlos Queiroz
- Rene Meulensteen
- Mike Phelen
All five managed to secure managerial jobs, primarily based on the fact that they were Sir Alex Ferguson’s number two, but the most the quintet managed to achieve by themselves was McClaren’s Dutch title win with FC Twente.
The premise that working under a manger will transfer all of their best attributes and add them to someone else is alluring, but very seldom works. Liverpool and Barcelona employed a boot-room policy at differing times to great success, but those managers were often handed the best team in Europe to manage.
If Arteta is to succeed Arsene, then he’ll have to do it without any name recognition that demands respect or a track record of encouraging his team to play attractive football. He can’t do what Guardiola does, which is show a video of Barcelona or Bayern Munich and say ‘I did that.’.
He can’t do what Zinedine Zidane did at Real Madrid, which is relate to global superstars on a equal footing and tell them that if he could do something, so could they. That’s a significant handicap to someone at a club like Arsenal, a club who sees itself as part of the elite in Europe.
So why would they do it?
Although Arteta only joined Arsenal in 2011, it felt as if he had been at the club his entire career. Everything from his style of play to personal class was pure Arsenal and his move from Everton seemed a no-brainer.
With players and managers rarely staying at clubs for more than a handful of seasons, it would be nice to have a familiar face return and take the reigns.
But Arteta is more than that. He is a coach who is highly rated by Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino, all of whom wanted him to work alongside them.
As fans, we often feel we know what is best for the club but on this occasion, I think we would be better served by waiting to see how Arteta does as manager before we pass judgement on things we have no clue about.