Last year, I thought replacing Arsene Wenger with Mikel Arteta was a really stupid idea.
What you definitely did not want to be was the manager that came immediately after Arsenal’s longest and greatest. Arsenal needed a water carrier for a year or so. A Bruce Rioch or a David Moyes. A moron could see that.
Why would Arteta risk his first shot at management in the middle of all that chaos?
But that wasn’t my only issue with hiring Arteta back then and the other was even more obvious.
Arteta had zero managerial experience. He still hasn’t, if we’re honest. But last summer he hadn’t even served a single year as Pep Guardiola’s number two and we were about to hand him the keys to the Arsenal Ferrari. Ok, Ford Focus. Still…
Unai Emery seemed the safer choice and if he’d been able to deliver the magic beans he promised at his presentation, the one that snatched the job away from from Arteta in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.
Not only did Emery fail to produce any beans, magic or otherwise, it turned out he didn’t even know what a bean was. Things got so bad under Emery, despite many of us saying it couldn’t get worse than the last couple of years under Wenger, that Mikel Arteta now seems a sensible choice. A credible selection. A man with zero evidence of success but a host of testimonials from some of the world’s greatest managers.
In the short space of Unai Emery’s tenure at Arsenal, Mikel Arteta has gone from a massive risk to the man Arsenal are literally throwing the keys of this clown car club at, begging him to drive us somewhere that isn’t off the cliff Emery aimed us at.
No pressure, then.
There actually isn’t that much pressure on Arteta, really.
Emery has made such a mess that almost every Arsenal fan knows this is going to take years to sort out. We also all know Arteta is only starting out and, as a player who was genuinely adored by the fanbase, he will get the time to do just that.
Arteta has no reputation to throw around in the dressing room, but he has the respect of his fellow professionals. Those who think they are too good to be coached by someone like Arteta are welcome to leave because what Arsenal need now more than anything is a person who can unite the squad and the fanbase.
Arteta will most likely be able to do that in ways more established names couldn’t. If he can teach them some tactics at the same time, well that’s just a bonus.
I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I can’t imagine it will go worse than it did under Emery.
I know I’m much more excited about Arteta’s appointment now than I would have been had it happened straight after Wenger.
Maybe I needed Emery to show me how bad things really could get before I was willing to accept a risk like Arteta.
So, thanks for that, Unai, if nothing else.
This article was first written for Paddy Power