Why Arteta needs more time by ThirdManJW
One can understand some of the criticism currently aimed at Arteta, given our struggles this season, but it’s increasingly frustrating to see some calling for his head, because any context is being ignored. For those fans, there seems to be no acceptance of the absolute shambles that Arteta inherited, no acceptance of just how tough the Premier League is, and no acceptance of the progress we have actually made, and that progress takes time.
Even this season, where the results have not been great, we have still seen progress. We are gradually improving in attack, albeit slowly, whilst retaining our defensive solidity. Arteta is still too cautious, but he is not that far off finding that perfect balance between defense and attack. There has also been fantastic off-the-field the progress as well, in regards to the cultural problems at Arsenal. There seems to actually be a plan, and who would have thought we would ditch so much deadwood in just one month, as we saw in January. It was the most forward-thinking transfer window I have possibly ever seen at Arsenal.
I have huge respect for Arteta because he could have taken the easy route, of working with what he had, within the environment he inherited, but he put his head on the chopping block by tackling the deep routed problems at Arsenal, e.g. player power,… which meant upsetting some people, including our biggest name: Ozil. Although Emery overachieved in his first season in regards to the results, it was hard to see any progress being made, because he didn’t really deal with these issues. That’s why it all fell apart quickly in his second season.
By dealing with our longstanding cultural problems, along with the board, Arteta is building a foundation for our club to build on. It’s all too easy to take a short-term approach by looking at the league table and being angry, but this short-term pain is for long-term gains. If he left us tomorrow, he will have left us in far better position, even if the league doesn’t show this. This progress shouldn’t be underestimated, because it would give any new manager a better chance of success.
When I talk about context, fans need to realize four things:
1 – It takes time to build something
Pep, and Klopp are perfect examples. Both hugely successful at their respective clubs, but not straight away. Pep inherited the best squad in the league, and spent an obscene amount of money in his first season. Yet despite those massive advantages, he won nothing, and finished 3rd, a whopping 15pts off the top. City were actually very poor in his first season. It wasn’t until his second season where he started to deliver. Klopp took almost 4 years to win something, and even 2.5/3 years into his reign, a lot of Liverpool fans were still unimpressed with him.
Spurs have been going backwards under Mourinho, Lampard spent a crazy amount at Chelsea and they were starting to regress, and it’s only now, two years later, that Solskjaer’s United are showing a little progression. Not all of have been successful, success has taken some of them a while, especially Klopp, and one also has to remember that Klopp, Mourinho, and Pep, had tons of experience coming into their respective clubs.
In this article I am only referencing the big 6, plus Ancelotti because of his vast experience, but time is needed for almost any manager at any level.
2 – Remember what Arteta inherited
I honestly cannot think of another manager in recent history, certainly at a big club, that has inherited a tougher situation than Arteta. Not only was the club in an absolute mess on Arteta’s arrival, we had huge cultural problems that had been woven into the fabric of the club for over a decade. Our worst squad in over 35 years, player power, clueless at defending, and many other issues. When Wenger left, 2018, it obvious it would take at least 3 years just getting to grips with the squad, given the ridiculous contracts that had been handed out. That has been the case, and that was just one problem of so many. Even when inheriting a good situation, it can take a manager a while to become successful, so is it not logical that given the state Arsenal were in, it would take longer?
3 – Just how tough the league is, especially this season
There is also not enough appreciation of just how tough the EPL is. Barring the Championship, it’s the most competitive league in the world. And this season, Arteta’s first full season as a manager, it’s tougher than ever. Yes, we should be doing better, but probably not as much as some are thinking, given the struggles of far more experienced, and better managers, working with better players. Mourinho’s Spurs are down in 9th, with 8 defeats, and only 2pts ahead of us. Current EPL champions Liverpool are only in 6th, 6pts ahead of us, with 7 defeats, losing their last 4 home league games. Chelsea was really starting to struggle under Lampard before sacking him, despite spending insane amounts of money on their squad. Ancelotti has 8 league defeats to his name this season. So, there are far more experienced managers, in far easier jobs, that are also struggling.
4 – Progress has been made
Emery’s second season was a disaster from a results and performance perspective, and as I have already mentioned, there was no progress being made in dealing with the club’s deep-rooted problems. Not all of his fault to be fair. Gazidis brought him in, not the new board, and that would explain why Emery wasn’t properly backed. Whereas Arteta has been sorting out our long-standing problems, and although things don’t look good in the league at the moment, solid progress has been made. We don’t get spanked against quality opposition anymore. In fact, Arteta has an excellent record against the top 6 so far. Consistently the best defending we have seen at Arsenal for well over a decade. Arteta has got us winning trophies again. He has tackled player power, and is playing a vital role in changing the dreadful culture and mindset at Arsenal.
Of course, Arteta has made mistakes, the Saliba situation being the worst of them, but find me a manager who doesn’t make mistakes! Overall, there are more pros than cons so far, but ultimately, and whatever the situation, at some point a manager needs to be judged on results. For me, I would wait until the end of the season before making a real judgement on Arteta, but would happily give him a chance next season as well, considering a lot of manager’s need two full seasons to really start making headway.
Statistical information on why managers need time
Klopp – 5yrs 4mths
games – 302
First trophy – 3ys 8mths
Took around 2.5/3 years to win over the fanbase, and for real progression to be made
Pep – 4yrs 7mths
games – 272
First trophy 1yr 7mths
Impossible not be a success given what he inherited, and money spent, but had to wait until his second season
Solskjaer – 2yrs 2mths
games – 129
First trophy – None
Even the start of this season was dreadful, but he has bounced back, and Utd seem to finally be pushing on a little, although yet to win anything
Mourinho – 1yr 3mths
games – 76
First trophy – None
Started this season well, but have really regressed of late (thankfully!)
Arteta – 1yr 2mths
games – 66
First trophy – 7mths
A lot of good work has been done with our cultural problems, and defense, trophies won, but have we improved in the league?
I haven’t mentioned Chelsea, as Tuchel has only just arrived, but Lampard spent a lot, and Chelsea were regressing in his second season at the club.