Ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Manchester City next week, Pep Guardiola has finally named his successor to Mikel Arteta – Juanma Lillo.
The 54-year-old former Real Sociedad and Real Oviedo manager joins from Qingdao Huanghai where he helped the club win the Chinese League One, gaining promotion to the Super League.
Lillo was once the youngest coach in La Liga history and has, according to the statement on Manchester City’s website, “managed a number of world class talents during his career, including Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Yaya Toure.”
Arteta left his role as Pep’s assistant to take over at Arsenal when we finally sacked Unai Emery.
He was almost handed the Arsenal job immediately after Arsene Wenger left. That would have been a mistake.
After 18 months of Unai Emery, however, the managerial infant now seems like a refreshing change, one that was already delivering hope to fans before the world came to an abrupt halt.
A massive Arsenal fan who one day dreamed of merely playing for the club, here he is now managing us.
“I remember the last time I was going down the tunnel, with my kids in my arms,” he told Arsenal player. “I said to my wife, ‘One day I will come back here as the manager’. It has come a little quicker than I expected but that was a dream.
“I’ve got more family now – I’ve got more kids! I’ve had more experiences but I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do so, two years before my retirement, I started to do my coaching badges. I already had that feeling that I wanted to try this game over that line, and I am really happy where I am.”
Arteta’s wife and kids live in LA as she finally gets time to work on her career, a promise Arteta made when he hung up his boots. For Arteta, that leaves a lot of time to obsess over Arsenal while his wife, Lorena Bernal, still has to juggle looking after the kids as she follows her career.
“I am trying to enjoy it more, and I am enjoying it,” he added. “This profession deserves to be enjoyed a lot.
“A lot of things happen along the way – injuries or situations that you have to face – that sometimes doesn’t allow you to see the whole picture. But hopefully I have people around me to pinch me a little bit every day and say ‘Look where you are, enjoy it.
“Work as hard as you can and make the most out of it and try to be professional, but at the same time, you know, this is a reward for what you’ve been preparing for.”