IS IT TIME TO GIVE MIKEL ARTETA A HELPING HAND OR ARE WE SEEING THE SAME SITUATION DEVELOP AS IT DID UNDER ARSENE WENGER – AND DOES TOO MUCH POWER ACTUALLY CORRUPT DECISIONS MADE, SIMPLY DUE TO WORKLOAD?
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!!!