Has Mikel Arteta taken on too much, too soon, at Arsenal


Make no mistake, this article is not out to demean or criticise Mikel Arteta in any way. What I’m suggesting is that we look at what has been achieved to date and what hasn’t.

Hopefully, we can agree that the club should not fall into the same trap that engulfed Arsene Wenger in his final two years, overloading himself such as dealing with contracts etc.

First of all, let’s recognise what Mikel has achieved off the field.

Gone is the toxic atmosphere that engulfed the club, both in-house and with the Arsenal fan base around the world.

He took the challenges left by eighteen months of indecision and double standards surrounding the Unai Emery era.

Not all of this was down to our previous coach and, in retrospect, he became the fall guy for some woeful decisions by the backroom staff and the lax way our owner monitored the situation.

However, we all know what was inherited by Mikel, and he dealt with it head on and with unfaltering determination to succeed. His record up and until the coronavirus lock down was remarkable in every way.

Results were positive, players were buying into his vision and philosophy, while the fans were ecstatic with the way he had turned the club around.

In footballing terms, the coronavirus came at the wrong moment for all concerned at our club.

Firstly, it was Mikel himself, who succumbed to this awful virus, and he spent (I believe) three weeks out of commission. It also signalled the shutdown of football across the board, with PL players being demonized for their salaries, while other highly paid individuals, from other industries, did not receive the kind of scrutiny that they came under.

Clubs were struggling to make ends meet, not just from the lower divisions, but also from the so called “elite” PL top six and, as we all know, Mikel was confronted with the thorny issue of asking the players to take a wage cut.

The fallout of that continues to this day and we are still the only club in the PL who took that decision – I feel that this is very important to acknowledge that this was such a tremendous situation to handle, on top of all that had gone before… and after, of course.

Even with all the above, Mikel continued to amaze us all, with an unbeaten run in 2020 up to the pandemic halted it, plus results that saw us lift the FA cup and CS, in his first eight months at the club – one incredible achievement, that of matching AW’s last FA cup semi and final results against Man City and Chelsea.

Then we saw the back-room antics start to interfere with MA’s vision, when 55 staff were made redundant, including Francis Cagigao, Gunnersaurus and Raul Sanllehi, while Freddie Ljungberg decided to leave, in order to further his own ambitions to become a coach, along with goalkeeping coach Sal Bibbo.

He named Andreas Georgson, Carlos Questa and Miguel Molina, but all this was, surely, taking time out of Mikel’s time with the players and his vision.

It has ended up with Mikel Arteta losing his title of coach to become manager, working alongside Edu (as technical director) and, according to reports, the pair have control over all matters concerning the first team – squad members – analysis – coaching – discipline – scouting – medical issues – maintaining high performance levels – players sold, signed and loaned – tactics – results… in other words, the same duties that Arsene Wenger had, that the likes of Gazidis and Kroenke decided to change and, in this instance, quite rightly so, in my opinion.

So why, I ask, have we taken, what seems, a complete U turn and with a man who has had no previous experience of such a heavy and impossible work load… especially at a time when so many other problems are still (or had just been) to be resolved?

It seems to me, a totally irresponsible decision to expect Mikel to handle this workload at a club of our stature in his first real outing as a manager, and let’s not forget the same goes for Edu.

I believe that the club and Mikel should be looking at the kind of partnership he enjoyed so successfully with Pep at Manchester City and have a strong right-hand man to bounce ideas off and who can/could take some of the weight of his shoulders.

Someone like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, who also love the club and have the values of The Arsenal in their DNA.

For either Patrick or Thierry it would be another step up in their own careers, but as with AW, would Mikel now be reluctant to relinquish this new found power and responsibility?

It is something that Arsene Wenger covers in his book and how it completely took over his life for twenty-two years – do we want the same to happen to Mikel Arteta in his first year?

In summary fellow Gooners, I believe we are expecting too much of a man who has already proved his worth at our club, and where we are in danger of reverting to one (or two) man holding and trying to manage a work load where it is impossible to excel in every department, as we have witnessed before.

I base this article and it’s suggestions and conclusions, on the way we played, and the results achieved before the club gave both Arsene and Mikel this role and I would hate to see MA burn himself out as AW did and before the fire has even started.

I also believe that this is why we keep seeing tactics changing, along with personnel – Mikel just hasn’t had time to get his head round all the issues.

I look forward to your views and comments and, unlike Dan, you can be unkind if you so desire!!!


Tags Arteta Edu


  1. All ur words are fact but can someone please advise MA to trust those new coaches and delegate his power to them and trust, I believe he hired who shares his way of thinking, his philosophy and believe, we should know who’s assistance and everything will be ok

  2. I guess it’s just the formation problem now..

    We are defending better. But not scoring enough. It was the other way around for the last few years..

    I think the last time we were defensively sound, was when we had Mertesacker – Koscielny partnership in prime, like 5-6 years ago?

    Off topic, Szoboszlai scored a cracker vs Atletico yesterday. Pleaaase Arsenal, don’t miss out on him..

  3. Personally I believe that having just Edu and Arteta in charge of team affairs bodes well for our future as a club .
    Every fan knows that the buck will stop with them and results will boil down to how well they both perform on and off the field ,we have already seen what they are made of with the purchases of Gabriel and Partey ,2 positions we have been crying out for .
    Arteta strikes me As being very intelligent and carry’s himself professionally at all times .
    Results will come and I’m very confident he can handle any pressures that will undoubtedly come his way in the near future .

    1. Dan, no disagreement with your reply, but no one needs or deserves the current pressure he is being subject to.

    2. Dan kit, Good to hear but tell me does that intelligence extend , in your opinion, to his correct decision to sideline your hero Ozil?
      It seems to me you are facing two ways on your championing of Ozil, while still calling MA , albeit correctly, intelligent. CARE TO SQUARE THAT CIRCLE THEN?

  4. Some bad results have suddenly change things swiftly. I remember how we all craved for the new season after winning the FA Cup and community shield… Anyway, I hope things will turn to be good. Remember it’s a gradual process and we will get some unfavourable results here and there but I m backing Arteta still….

  5. I fully support Arteta no matter what. The man has delivered when Arsenal as a Club, its players and its fans were down and out. Arteta brought in a breath of fresh air and everything is looking positive. I agree that it is the formation and the attack that has to be sorted out, since defensively we are made sound by Arteta. Cmon MA we trust inyou and carry on with the success you have been giving us, because we know you will ring in changes in tactics and formation to compensate for the deficiencies.

  6. A really good article Ken
    I find myself agreeing with you and Dan kit. The Arteta-Edu partnership can work but to me the key is appropriate delegation as no one can do it all themselves.

  7. Ken you are right Arteta needs help. In truth he is very inexperienced. It could be a good idea to give Arteta a partner in crime. He’ very single minded, which can be good…..or very bad, but he clearly does not have the coaching skills of a Bielsa or a Rogers. In fact he has no style in that sense. It’s tactics without a playing style. Look at the creativity at Leeds and Leicester, a real football style. Look at our style…..there is none. It’s just tactics, and no style of our own. It’s heartbreaking and only Arteta is accountable to have (Ozil aside)…..not one genuine playmaker. Since the departure of Ramsey, I have not seen in the course my long life, a worse midfield at Arsenal. Partey may help, but watching Xhaka is heartbreaking. So poor. With no Ozil, maybe Willian can play deeper and be our new Santi. One thing I do know is if Arteta is so narrow-minded and cannot develop a style, a meaningful style that gives creative space to our players we are in trouble. I am genuinely worried Arteta is becoming Emery version 2. Confused ideas and no style, just different tactics every week. He needs a partner badly.

  8. Nice one, Ken. “Unlike Dan, you can be unkind if you so desire” 😂👍

    I feel for MA.. these honeymoon periods don’t last long at all, do they?!
    I can’t believe there are fans out there calling for his head already!!

    We all knew what he’d signed up for, we all agreed about the mess we were in and that it’d take an age to put right! We all said give it 2 to 3 transfer windows and we’ll be just about there… but no, things/results are expected instantly… but in the real world, it doesn’t work like that!!

    Baby steps…. I know it’s tough, and I freely admit I haven’t been bowled over by the last few performances, but you have to take the rough with the smooth…we will get there… and we are in a much better place than we were a year or so ago… patience is needed – which is a good one coming from me 😂😂 Thank you, MA…

    And as for Henry, MI aren’t doing so well as of late, so he may be back with us before we know it 😜

  9. The fact alone that the man got rid of the negative and toxic atmosphere surrounding the club and us fans already made me developed nothing but love with him.
    Getting rid of that toxic atmosphere was the first and best thing anyone could do.
    It brought fresh air and spirits to me also.

    Like you I do feel the power and expectations are too much to bear. We’ve already piled a whole lot of pressure on him, a whole lot and the demand for him to deliver after his quick FA cup success.
    It’s almost the same route with Wenger.
    His success, and that unbeaten seaso tool the expectations of fans overboard.
    When he got the job, everyone kept singing how we need to give him two-three seasons to build the team.
    After the FA cup success, a large part of the fanbase seems to have bin that give him time narrative, and expecting more quick success.
    I feel Mikel just found himself in the same situation with his quick adaptive attitude and success.
    Well best of luck to him, I trust him and his decisions.
    I’ll support him always and support the team always.
    It’s onwards together

  10. Well thought out article ken

    Like you have rightly said
    Too much pressure is bad for decision making
    I’ll love to see that Henry or Bergkamp(the latter I’ve read has shown some sought of interest) assistance for him to sought off release some of that pressure and give him an additional footballing brain

    I think we are in a phase right now and we’ll surely get through it
    Starting at Man U


      1. 👍 re what you were asking about Thursday Sue, I read elsewhere that there’s good chance of Chambers getting a run out. Should be interesting.

        1. Wow, it’s been a while, Jax.. good for him! Bit low on CBs.. what with injuries and some being left out. Sunday is more important, so with one eye on that, we have to rotate and big time!!
          I wonder if we’ll see Nelson? He appears to have vanished….

  11. Arteta started like a house on fire and burns out too quickly .Now he needs to slow down and recharge his batteries before things fizzle out .Our problem I always repeat is the ownership.Kroenke..Arteta needs help and only that man can offer that. Look at what Abrahamovic did when he took over Chelsea ownership. He splashed the cash and they won almost everything .Arteta needs help , even though he fails to admit it. But the man is trying, After all, this is his first Managerial stint .He should continue to work hard on our defense so that if we don’t win, we don’t lose either because an average Arsenal fan hate defeat, and we have already lost three league matches out of six. The goals and victories will come hopefully, but just as you said, Our coach need help and fast too.

  12. Give him a break. He had no managerial experience when he was hired. That’s not his fault

    Also he brought us a Trophy. That’s mainly what I care for. Also he’s brought us some good players for the future

    How ever if we finish the season at the same position as last season then we will need to reevaluate. We need improvement every season

    1. Innit, but are you taking into consideration the mess he inherited and has, as near as can be judged, sorted out.

      As far as I am aware, no other manager has had to begin his reign with that kind of situation.
      I’m more than happy to give him the two further seasons to rebuild, as long as relegation doesn’t become an issue of course.

    1. I don’t think you are the first to say that actually. But what about a time scale? A week? A month? What is SOON?

      1. Ad PAT, I don’t think that Abdi even tries to think and you are treating his nonsensical post with far greater respect than he deserves by even answering him!

        Can you truly envisage any REAL thought having gone into those mighty ten whole words? Neither can I !

  13. Ken a beautifully constructed article, posing many questions and trying your very best to be even handed.

    There is so much to like in your deeply thoughtful analysis. I feel that one ongoing problem that ANY manager will always have is that , while what you say about an overload is true and obvious, it is only possible and practical to have ONE ultimate decision maker.

    To expand on that principle of ONE man making the final decision a little further, I maintain that the alternative to this is to govern essentially by a “COMMITTEE” of two or more and THAT can never work and never does.

    Liverpool tried joint managers a generation ago which soon failed to work. It always will and always does. So, whichever way you may phrase this”overload problem” it still comes down to one of two outcomes. Firstly, a decisive decision quickly made and carried through OR a compromise between two or more indiviviuals where neither gets all they want. I say that is far worse and will never work successfully.

    Just as in government you have a cabinet , you still have only ONE, the PM,who finally decides and that is how it always must be.
    Let me pose this scenario: You and your wife wish to go away on holiday. You want to go abroad but your wife wants to stay in Britain. In a happy and successful partnership one of you gives way to the other as you cannot be at home and and abroard simulutaneously.

    Now suppose you and wifey are going with the friends who live next door. Hubby(nextdoor) wants to go to Spain , wifey wants to go to Bournemouth.


    It is this same principle of having only ONE ultimate decision maker that is MY chief objection to the introduction of VAR, and this principle applies, IMO, to most key enterprises in life, at least in high level business. So then, a clash of theory and practability is present.

    I go along with “someone to bounce ideas off ” and this applies to all level headed key decision makers in life, when they use their brain properly. But even so, it is still ONE person who makes the ultimate decision and THAT fact is what makes the top job both a vital and a lonely one.

    Now Ken, I do not agree that as yet MA even needs help, other than Edu “to bounce his ideas off! I firmly believe that much fan unrest is foolish, hasty , unfair and far too soon! MA has only been here ten months and has achieved way above what most level headed fans can ever have hoped when he came.

    There has been a vast overreaction to an unlucky defeat by Leicester and a dismal fan disregard that we lost, even though at the two clubs who were miles clear from ALL others in the last two seasons.

    “Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring” is my view but so many unthinking Gooners ARE PANICKING AND FOOLISHLY TOO.

    I do not agree that MA’s tactics have changed either, not fundamentally. I agree with the greater solidity he has instilled and I also allow for the fact he has not a REALLY talented creative attacking midfielder at the club. Ceballos is the best available but he is far from world class, even though decent. As you know, I disregard “you know who” as yesteryears man and you also know why!

    I intend to be patient and give MA PROPER time to bring in his own chosen players, ie ones he did not inherit AND to change those from today that he wishes.

    This cannot be done as soon as the many hotheaded fans seem to “think”!

    1. Jon, thanks for such a detailed reply, I thought for a moment you had insider knowledge to my marriage situation!!!!

      I think that MA has been so unlucky with the different issues that have surrounded his time at our club.
      Corona virus – both personal and squad wise – pay cut issues – back room instability and replacing those who left – redundancies – transfers in and out – the complete shambles inherited… look at the comparison with the spuds or everton situation that their new managers walked into.
      Yet, MA has addressed every single issue and now he has even more pressure as Manager.
      We mustn’t forget this is his first managerial position, unlike AW and UE, yet he has had to handle issues that they never could have dreamt of being in their remit.
      There is no issue regarding MA making final decisions, but Edu is not experienced enough to be his right hand man in any shape or form.

      I really don’t want to see him become a managerial casualty due to the club’s negligence.

      1. Ken I much agree with all the issues he has had to deal with – who could not! To my mind, what he has overcome is most of them (though not the unthinking fan panicking too), and I FIRMLY BELIEVE HE IS ALREADY WELL ON HIS WAY TO GREATNESS, then the acclaim, save for those who will never see sense (and they are in every walk of life as we all know) will be all the sweeter.
        I repeat, for emphasis, the central problem that he will have is that most of the players are NOT his own choice .

        I realise you argued, in a recent post, that they are – and though I see what you were trying to say, they are NOT his own choices , merely a choice from what he inherited(plus his own imports ).
        His own imports – save Soares, brought in as emergency cover for BELLERIN, simply because Kroenke would not shell out enough money for a proper RB – have been great successes – and his judgement is sound, his man management top class and his solidifying a rotten defence, even with a majority of still hopeless defenders playing, is magnificent.

        IMO the jury is still out on Edu!

  14. Ken..

    I am so glad I didn’t miss your thought-provoking article amidst the flurry of articles posted just only today!

    Again, I must commend your article most especially for being a thought-provoking piece about an issue that many may not have thought to be or not be a problem for Arteta.

    My only upset with your article is your concluding statement “I look forward to your views and comments and, unlike Dan, you can be unkind if you so desire!!!”…. Nevertheless, I am glad I haven’t read too many responses from those who would consider your statement as some license to spit poorly thought out responses! *smiling*

    Interestingly, the converse has been the case, with many being very thoughtful in their responses! Then, I must commend your tactics again!

    I also love the way you keep your article’s lifetime active by the efforts you make to address people’s comments! Something to learn from…

    Finally, I would say that the board would have seen enough of Arteta’s skill sets before taking the decision to increase his workload, so to say. In my opinion, I feel he will do just fine, more than anything else, because it gives him the powers to determine and choose the specific type of players he would want to sign, and not to be dictated to by some committee..

    Once again, please keep those thought provoking articles coming!


    1. I only hope your confidence in Mikel Arteta’s ability to juggle all the balls he currently has in the air are proved correct Fire.

      It was interesting to note the “theme” from individual writers, (not including Admins Pat, Patrick and Martin)regarding their differing views.

      Thanks for your observations and comments.

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