The new Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta has offered an olive branch to Granit Xhaka and has made it clear that he doesn’t want him to leave the club at the moment. The newly arrived coach has admitted that he wants the Swiss international to become an integral part of the team again and win the fans back onside.
Arteta told the Guardian in a very eloquent first interview as the Arsenal boss: “When I was going from Arsenal to City to start coaching and we were looking in that position, he was one of the players on my list,”
“This is how much I liked him. I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
“He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that, I think, was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded. But I have been amazed as well by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very, very positive about him. Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction with him.”
Xhaka came back to the starting XI in the weekend draw at Everton, and seemed to be back to his best, despite the rumours linking him with Hertha Berlin. Arteta also revealed that he had spoken to Xhaka personally about his hopes for the midfielder. “I told him how much I like him and what I expect from him, how important he is for the team. I am here to help him, I want him to feel that we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club. If we can get the people in the right way as well, the fans with him, I think it will be helpful for the team, which is where it matters.”
Despite his high hopes for Xhaka’s return to the fold, he is not going to reinstate him as captain just yet, in fact he is not going to make many changes too quickly until he gets the lay of the land. “I don’t want to change everything drastically in two days,” he continued. “I want to put my feelings slowly, I want to see what is going around, and in the right moment I will make the decisions for the benefit of the team and the club. At the moment I don’t think it is the right time, with the amount of games coming up and the amount of things that have to be done, to change too many things.”
Arteta was then asked if he wanted to get the Gunners playing like the Man City side he just left, and although attacking football is his ultimate aim, he just wants to try and get the team playing with confidence first and foremost for now. He replied: “That’s what I was born with, that’s what I understand and what I believe is the best way to play,”
“But the context is very important, and the context right now, here, is not Manchester City. It is completely different. So I can’t demand the players to do some things because I will expose them and that is the last thing I want to do. I want to give them confidence, reassurance and guidance. But slowly, slowly, slowly, hopefully we will get to where I want.”
A very measured interview in my opinion, and that augurs well for getting the fans back onside as well. Let us hope he is ultimately successful, but let’s not expect miracles straight away from our new coach, eh?