Should Arteta Have Remained as Guardiola’s Understudy?

‘A servant must be like his master’ is a common phrase used around the world. However, in football, this is not always the case. Being an understudy of a successful manager does not always translate to becoming an immediate success.

Many might argue otherwise, after all, the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Joachim Low, and Jose Mourinho became successful after playing understudy to Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klinsman, and Van Gaal respectively. Notwithstanding, for every success story recorded by an understudy, there are ten times more unsuccessful stories.

This brings us to the question: should Arteta have remained Guardiola’s understudy?

For some assistant managers, the goal is to become a manager. So, when Arsenal called in December 2019, Arteta saw it as an opportunity to become a manager.

After all, he retired from professional football and as captain of the same club a few years before.

The club even offered him a place at their academy, one he failed to take. Instead, he opted to become the assistant manager of the man he first met in Barcelona.

Arteta as an Understudy

Together, they blew everyone in the league away and created countless records. For all the applause that were showered on Guardiola, he (Guardiola) was always quick to highlight how important Arteta was.

He even suggested that Arteta might succeed him at the club in one of his comments.  Guardiola said: “I will like him to stay with us. Manchester City has a person of incredible value to work here in the future.”

Arteta also had the respect of players at the club. Sane who was at City when Arteta was an understudy of Guardiola said of the then assistant manager: “He is always right. We speak a lot about my movements, how to run into the spaces behind the defence.” Fernandinho even said, “Mikel [Arteta] has helped me improve with his advice.”

These rave reviews by players and Guardiola suggested that Arteta had the respect of the staff. But when it came to the decision of remaining an understudy or becoming a manager, Arteta opted for the latter. To be fair to him, most people would have taken a job at a club they have good ties with, and one of the top clubs in England too.

Arteta As An Arsenal Manager

Arteta’s earlier days at Arsenal were rosy as he led the team to FA Cup success by defeating Guardiola’s Manchester City in the semi-final and Chelsea in the final. This was a sharp turnaround from a club that looked troubled seven months prior. At the beginning of his first full season as manager (2020/2021), his Arsenal team pipped Liverpool to the community shield title and got to the semi-final of the UEFA Europa League.

However, his successes were often overshadowed by rumours of dressing room unrest.

Whether with Mesut Ozil or Guendouzi, who later exited the club or Aubameyang and Leno; there is always a thick cloud over his relationship with players.

However, the biggest criticism is failing to take Arsenal back to the Champions League after 18 months in charge.

The club’s consecutive 8th place finish was not well received by most fans.

In addition, Arteta’s signings have been less than impressive. Many Arsenal fans are indeed hoping that Arteta’s signings would not end being some of the worst Arsenal Signings in their history.


With the recent investments made with the purchase of players, Arteta may run out of excuses if he fails to take the club back to the UEFA Champions League.

The club spent the most of any English club on player purchases ahead of the 2021/22 Premier League season and they only have domestic competitions to focus on.

Whether he is better off as an understudy of Guardiola at Manchester City or as Arsenal manager might just be dependent on how the 2021/2022 season ends….. if he remains manager till the end!


Stephen O


  1. He should’ve started at a smaller club first, whose expectation isn’t as high as Arsenal’s

    However, dwelling in the past is useless. We can only see what he’ll do to fix Arsenal in the next three EPL matches and in the next transfer window

    1. There’s nothing he can do to fix Arsenal because he lacks the knowledge to do that. Arsenal is led by a blind man. He could have learned more from Pep.

    2. He wouldn’t have joined smaller club because he was understudy of chequebook Manager…
      Arteta wouldn’t have joined the club who can’t give money the way Arsenal did.
      He is exactly doing the same thing which Pép does..
      Pep always remained as Chequebook Manager…
      Always managed teams with ample funds to spend in transfer market or less competitive league…
      Arteta is exactly following same path…
      That’s why he must have demanded 150 Millions and new players

      1. Guardiola & Arteta did spend a lot of money, but their teams can play high possession football styles because of that

        I prefer to watch a dominant team, than a counter-attacking one who intentionally gives up their ball possession, such as Atletico Madrid and Leicester City

        1. To be honest I’m still not sure what style Arteta’s team plays, there has been glimpses of what that style might be but I couldn’t point you to a full 90 minutes of Arteta’s high possession football.

    3. 1. By not qualifying to play in Europe, the team is losing money
      2. The team is playing boring football
      3. There’s no improvement in the team even though Arteta is spending exorbitant amounts
      4. After signing 11 players, the team is performing worse than before
      5. There’s no continuity from academy to senior team in terms of style of play
      Whoever made this decision, should fix this mess

      1. Guardiola and Arteta did spend a lot of money, but their teams can play high possession football styles because of that

        I prefer to watch a dominant team, than a counter-attacking one who intentionally gives up their ball possession, such as Atletico Madrid and Leicester City

      2. Sorry my first reply 👆 was meant for @Kedar

        I bet Kroenke, Garlick, Vinai, Edu and Arteta are trying hard to fix the problems. We have won two EPL games in a row, so let’s stop the negativity first

        1. @GAI
          It’s not about negativity… it’s about its about Similarity between Pep and Arteta in terms of selecting their Employer..

    4. Gai
      You have said it all. Arteta has potential to be a good and big manager someday. But he has been overwhelmed by Arsenal job which requires a bit more experience. He beat Spuds and Murhiho at Emirate stadium 2-1 last season. The least he should get on Sunday is a draw. Doing well in October would determine if he stays at Arsenal. But I guess he has a chance to do well if his players stay out of injuries. My big fear for him is that I am yet to see a perfected pattern of play.from his team.

      1. If the key players can stay out of injuries or COVID

        The pattern is clear to me. But it’s obviously missing the most important piece, which is our main pivot in the opposition’s six-yard box

    5. Agree with GAI. Even the great George Graham, a far better player than Mikel Arteta, managed a lesser club before coming to Arsenal. Arsene Wenger worked his way up.
      Thus the answer is “Yes”, stay at City or move down the divisions for his first managerial position.

  2. GAI- if he fails to get performances AND results in the next three games Arteta won’t be at the club for the next transfer window

      1. 9 points from 15 is hardly ambition and Personally I don’t think this enough to move us forward … But if he doesn’t get these results I expect you to join the sensible voices calling for his departure from the club

        1. If we don’t get 9 points from the next five EPL games, I bet he’ll get the boot or at least a warning from Kroenke

      2. @gai, please please stop with this business of settling for a draw against Spurs. We are Arsenal, surely we should be aiming to win?

          1. Gai
            Really, losing won’t be an excuse. No explanation would suffice for the fans. A draw is respectable. But I feel we can win if the players can keep Kain and Song quiet. I also feel Xhaka would be useful in this kind of game. Lokonga iwould be too new ro understand the intensity involves in this kind of derby.

      1. Laurie- I just do t see it tbh. Scraping 1-0 wins against sides who start the season with the ambition of just staying up is one thing. The level of performance is another. We have a very good squad of players, yet very rarely do the team excite anyone with their displays. If he’s still here at Xmas I will be very surprised

  3. For him to be trusted with this huge club, he must keep winning every game that is thrown out to Arsenal. All the best to him.

  4. Arteta wasted 3 years at Citeh and his time as a water boy at the best team in the League heavily contributed to his two 8th placed finishes at Arsenal.
    Arteta arrived at Arsenal believing he would win the league in no time and the CL in 3 years.
    It took Arteta 2 years to realize that what worked at super club Citeh did not necessarily work at the Arsenal retirement village.
    So a massive change in direction was ordered and very generously Kroenke allowed Arteta more time to oversee the overhaul.
    A team of young obedient battlers is being evolved and the deadwood slowly kicking and screaming unloaded. The job is only half done and will require another summer. Covid, injuries and a horror early draw has seen a slow start ponts wise and while the Spurs game could see Arsenal go as high as 9th a loss could see a drop to 17th.
    While Arteta learned nothing at Citeh he has most certainly experienced severe growing pains these past two seasons all of which is hoped will bear fruit next season and beyond.
    I just hope he is given at least till Xmas to show his worth with the new project.

    1. A post from real fan! Keep them comming. The difference is that City had/s players with a die hard winning mentality, AFC had players with die hard whinning mentality, whom have been shown the exit door (hence most fanboys are rattled). If the likes of Mane,Fernandinho praise him, who are Ozil and Guendozi to pass some funny remarks?We are moving upward the table with his players.Like yesterday the master stroke of playing Partey/ESR earned us the result. I can’t wait for the 22-23 season when all the rubbish has gone and we have a fine young team with a fine young manager holding silverware high above his shoulders.

      1. Loose Cannon, can I ask you again, was it just a two horse race when we finished 2nd to Leicester – as you always say that was the case with us and Man Utd when AF/AW were finishing 1st /2nd?

        Also what deadwood are you referring too, from MA’s selection this season… excluding Willian, of course, who MA signed?!?!!

        1. Sir, that season the other teams performed bad and AW ensured that we lost out, to whom ?LC of all the teams😣. And that still hurts me bad till today. No lame excuses, he was that poor.
          Kolasinac, Laca, Chambers, Elneny, Eddie, Holding are still there.Would they walk into Utd or City or Pool? If they are unfit for them then what can you expect Mikel to achieve with them? A big fat Zero.

          1. Th players you have mentioned though LC got us second but with the same set of players in the squad Artetas best finish is 8th,and this season ATM 13th while breaking record after record (not positive ones )

          2. Exactly Dan, but LC knows this and, somehow, he just cannot admit it – yet always says there was only two teams when AW was in charge….so we must assume that when we finished 8th, there was a massive increase in the teams able win the league.
            Laughable and completely bonkers!!
            He forgot to mention our worst start in over three decades, even with the “dross” players he mentions, both AW and UE got better results.

  5. Many ups and downs since he took over, and magnified by being at a prominent club. He faces the same questions as all managers.

    1. Is the team improving?
    2. Is team competitive with big clubs?
    3. Are youngsters being developed?
    4. Will tomorrow and the future be better than the present?
    5. Is the team achieving their goals?

    Fans are divided over these questions, as they patiently continue to wait as they have over the last decade.

    People will reach their own conclusions, but I will never question another’s love for our club.

    I love the club first and foremost, over managers and players, always. Although I may disagree with others over topics on here, I remember that we all love the club in our own way.

    Isn’t that what a supporter is when whittled down?

    1. Good to see you back Durand – hope all is well with you.

      Isn’t the motive for any person, the wish to better oneself?
      Isn’t that what drives any human being the need to improve?

      The employment of MA was and still is, a very divisive one from the fans perspective.
      More proven names were banded about like confetti, even if they were impossible to obtain.

      I have no issues whatsoever with the club asking MA to take on this project, or MA for accepting it.
      But we need to see progression and accountability, just as both AW and UE were judged on.

      It seems that we have regressed under MA, despite the fact that he has been supported by the owner in regards to the transfers in and out of players.

      We have a group of players, who have been selected, re-signed and promoted to the first team squad and, while there are still one or two left that are deemed surplus to requirements, we have, to all intents and purposes, a fully selected MA squad of players…. that are simply not performing to their potential.

      I agree that the last four games are encouraging, injuries have played a part, as has covid etc etc – but we are not the only club that has faced these challenges and trying to hide behind them, does no good whatsoever.

      I challenge any supporter of The Arsenal to come out and say that he doesn’t want Mikel Arteta to succeed – there will not be one take up.
      But we cannot keep looking back for excuses to try and cover the decline we are in and, one day, MA will have to deliver on the decisions he, not AW or UE, has made.

      I still hope he will turn out to be our most successful manager ever and that his decision to leave the comfort zone of assistant to Pep, will prove to be the right one.

      1. Ken, I am just a simple soul, I just want him to get us back into the top 4. i miss not being in the hat!! No chance of him being our most successful manager though, the modern game of hire and fire will see to that.

        1. More’s the pity Andrew – if MA can deliver as he did when he won the fa cup and charity shield with some of the players he has now replaced, I would be over the moon.
          After all, my simple way of looking at it is this:
          If one decides players XYZ are not good enough, after winning two trophies, the replacements bought in for a total exceeding £150,000,000,the results should show the manager has made the right decisions.
          Simple but obvious in my opinion.

          Klopp and Pep have been at their clubs for five plus seasons, I believe….so plenty of time for MA to stamp his style, vision and winning methods at the club.

      2. Ken my friend!
        Very well said by you, and I can only agree. I fully support Arsenal, and whether Arteta is the manager to lead the club into a successful future is yet to be seen.

        It’s hard to judge because no one knows what the goals are, they seem to change with every interview by the club staff.

        I will support Arsenal first, as always

    2. good to see you back in the fold Durand…your slightly more subtle tone suggests that either life has become more complicated recently, which if that’s the case I can only hope all is well presently, or you were sent to the infamous JA “sin bin”, which can be an incredibly frustrating designation that I would wish upon only a select few….regardless, it’s great to see your insightful and common sensical presence back on the JA posting train…take care

      1. Not in the “sin bin” just been busy and recently haven’t had time to read, digest, and respond as I would like.

        Glad to see we are winning lately, and the game this weekend should be a good indicator improvement.

        Confidence is up, so lets hope it continues and is reflected in our play.

  6. Arteta will require time with his new players signed this season. Till December would be ideal, but first and foremost the next 3-4 games will be critical. Whatever it is, support for the Club is the most important obligation of genuine fans. Arsenal is most important, more than a manager of any player.

  7. Can’t blame Arteta for having the courage and ambition to take on the Arsenal job. You’d think that someone who has learnt from Moyes, Wegner and Guardiola would be able to combine the best of the three, however there seems to be no spark or ambition in how he sets the team up to play. When will we see it and where will it come I have no idea and we have already been told that it will be a long wait.

  8. Generally speaking, in life and work it is better to have tried and failed ,than not to have tried at all.Extending this adage to football Management,Arteta has experienced different obstacles and challenges as he works towards his goal, and not surprisingly, aided and abetted by a Director of Football who has a limited knowledge of European teams and players, he has made a number of glaring mistakes.Errors of judgement are not of course confined to first time Managers, but applied to those of immense experience such as Wenger and Emery to make but two.However, at least when you try, you attain new knowledge, which will hopefully help you to avoid making the same mistakes which have justifiably drawn heavy criticism.I would hope Arteta and Edu have now cut their baby teeth, and will go on to bring about the improvement Arsenal fans are rightly looking for.There are still players to be unloaded and others , like Saliba who will play a major part in our recovery.What Arteta ought to do is admit his failings to fans and concentrate on improving the squad, individually and collectively.He has undoubtedly a lot to learn, but then, don’t we all if the truth be told.

  9. Well any one entitled to his opinion and it is better to judge and criticize people from the back of a mic or a computer, when wenger left just like man U when Alex left everyone knew it will take time for that team to evolve and get back to its best glory days, for united they try solving that buying established high profile players but it still didnt work, they were shop changing managers but not there yet.

    All am trying to say is that it is not as easy as y’all think it is to rebuild a structure and so for Arsenal we knew for long that team was full of average and less committed players cos of the last Wenger years, most manager shy away from a job of rebuilding especially when they are not guaranteed finances, this is where i salute MA for taking this bold risk in fledging managerial career, if he doesnt believe he could do it, i guess he would have been long gone, he trust himself and the board that employs him trust him too and are willing to give him all the time all the time he needs to implement his ideas and the discontentment of the impatient fans will not sway their resolve. So lets hang on and support this project which BFG said its a long one.

    1. And yet, under AW and UE, the squad MA inherited had, in the previous two and a half seasons, wib a FA cup, reached the semi and final of the europa league and finished 6th and 5th in the Premier league…. the latter season, missing out on the CL by one point.
      Arteta went on to win the fa cup:charity shield with UE and AW’s players!!

      So how long and how much do you want to give MA to improve on those results, remembering that he has now replaced nearly all of those players he wanted out?

      1. The team ken needed refreshing and strengthening in the weak areas, not gung ho surgery and excuses of a rebuild. The attitude needed changing and a few tweaks. We have gone so far backwards its scary.

          1. Agree with your post at 6.24 100%, finishing 6th and 5th wasn’t good enough – so what does finishing 8th tell us?
            I think we have bought some very good players in, all it needs is for them to gel and be coached properly.
            That was what pre-season was all about surely?
            There are encouraging signs and I think we will win Sunday, but this really is MA’s squad now and the buck stops with him and him alone.

  10. If Arteta had continued using the same players he inherited from the previous 2 regime we would be in a worse state than we are now, those players where in their comfort zone on huge wages they where so bad he couldn’t sell them he had to give some away for free. I give him credit for having the bottle and tearing up the contracts and getting rid of them .
    The squad looks new and fresh, if he was to get the sack at Christmas the foundations would have been laid for the new manager and he would get credit for all the hard work Arteta put in he would need 3 or 4 top players to be challenging for the top 3 again not a complete new squad like Arteta .

  11. So under MA, reaching the semis of the EL is seen as a success,but Emery getting us to the final was and still is seen by some as a failure, interesting.

    1. Siamois
      The conclusion I’ve come to is that under an experienced manager like Emery it was at least a high expectation that Arsenal would reach the EL final. He was a European winner multiple times and had coached PSG

      The same could not possibly be said about Arteta who had been in management for less than 18 months in total.

      1. SueP, the great Arsene Wenger didn’t manage to do it after contually making the Champions League and even having reached a final in it. It is thus not easy to do.
        In addition Emery improved on Wenger’s last season’s position whilst having far less control as “head coach” than either Wenger or Arteta.
        One would think Emery was brought in as the “fall guy”, so the Board could bring in Arteta.

  12. Im so sick u all expecting arsenal to finish in top 4 just cause he spent 160 million

    when will u all realize we are competing against teams that spent 200mil+ for past 3 4 years
    its a young group 7 player under 23 all coming together

    im sorry admin pat i like ur opinions but these one was either just to criticize arteta or ur out of ideas

    1. Actually your sums are way out
      Arsenal are in the top 3 spenders in the last 5 years .
      No one is saying we should be competing for the PL title because that won’t happen as the Liverpools and Chelsea’s of this world have competent managers where as we have an experimental manager .
      What fans do expect is for us to at least be competitive with said teams and not lying in 13th place in the PL .
      Money is not the issue ,are manager is .

    2. I think you will find by the signature that this is not my opinion but one of our readers.

      Please feel free to send in an opposite opinion anytime you like mate…

  13. So, having just recruited 6 talented young players, who are all delighted to be at our Club, and are in the process of integration in terms of tactics, team shape ,communication etc you, in your infinite wisdom are suggesting the man who was mainly responsible for bringing them to Arsenal, should hand in his resignation?Even the most ardent of the anti Arteta brigade would find it difficult to support you, but perhaps rational thinking goes out the window when it becomes an obsession.

  14. Under Pep…Arteta learnt to put a good team together but Arteta needs to learn other qualities from a different manager…….I think Arteta is more like the Pep/Morinio type of manager….he is not the Wenger/furgie type…….and he is no father figure to the youngsters as well……..I think Arteta still needs time and more experience to be a Arsenal manager………..just my opinion

  15. There’s several obvious reasons why Arteta should have never been offered the coaching position at the Emirates, let alone the managerial title:

    firstly, for experiential reason, as the task at hand was far too arduous for such a novice to undertake, especially without a Dein-type figure within the administrative branch

    secondly, there’s no evidence to suggest that being a Pep underling is a gateway to managerial success, in fact, quite the opposite, historically-speaking

    thirdly, at this particular time, when the best and the brightest, within the managerial realm, are currently plying their respective trades in the PL, to expect that this “green” candidate could succeed was a bridge too far, logically-speaking

    finally, the fact that we didn’t require him to seek a coaching position in the Championship or abroad, when he was first being considered, prior to or following Unai’s ultimate hiring, suggests either a lack of proper planning on our part or a lack of commitment to the craft on his behalf

    with this in mind, this was either an irresponsibly lazy or fanciful hire on the part of ownership, considering the problematic circumstances within the club, at that time, and the fact that competition for the top 4 or 6 positions had never been more difficult proposition…so even though the moniker of Mini-Arsene makes some sense, due to his propensity to exhibit many of the less than flattering traits of the latter version of our former manager, he’s clearly NO early days Wenger, which is the only version that is worthy of emulating

    1. Is it allowed to suggest that you may be wrong? I think he is building a squad as per his process and he will be very successful.
      Not today. But no house was ever built in a day, and if it was it would fall down very quickly….

      He is our manager, and I will support him until we have a new manager, is that allowed?

      1. as I’ve said all along, if he had stayed the “process” course from the offing, instead of deviating for his own selfish pursuits, last off-season, I would have given him considerably more leeway, but as that wasn’t the case, he should have lost the reigns when his experimental “retool” plan failed miserably…now if he had a rather lengthy CV, which included a “rebuild” initiative, I would have better understood why he was allowed to remain at the helm, but the fact that this wasn’t the case whatsoever, any responsible owner would have sent him packing at season’s end…unfortunately our largely absent and indifferent owner not only allowed him to continue with his “blind man” experimentation, he likewise signed off on the largest transfer kitty in our history…mindboggling, in my estimation

    2. “There’s several obvious reasons why Arteta should have never been offered the coaching position at the Emirates, let alone the managerial title”
      Bro ,not several,we are talking multiple upon multiple reasons ,do not be the FF (👍)I thought you was when we first engaged,don’t ever speak half truths and let that sh1t go ,don’t hold back buddy , several,should never been seen to come out of your mouth again regarding Arteta and his flyby excuses .

      1. as you know, I’m not one to mince words…my original inclination was to use numerous or a myriad of reasons, but for some unknown reason I opted for the more child-friendly several…I think it was simply a by-product of early day gin consumption mixed with a sativa chaser…I will do better in the future DK…thanks for the p in the d

    3. These “obvious reasons” are merely opinions.
      To suggest that the ownership are irresponsible or lazy simply because they do not agree with your perspective is the height of arrogance.
      What exactly do you mean by “early days Wenger”? This is yet another meaningless phrase thrown in to discredit Arteta.

      1. I shouldn’t even respond to someone who can’t seem to differentiate between “mere” opinions and those based on “real world” facts, but here goes…regarding point # 1, please provide me with a list of first-time managers, in the modern era, who orchestrated an organizational “rebuild”, at a “big” club no less…as to my second reason, feel free to likewise provide me with a list of former Pep assistants who went on to be productive/successful managers…with regards to my 3rd reason, most would agree that 3 of the best managers in the footballing world are currently plying their respective trades in the PL, which is why it wasn’t the most logical time to opt for such a novice managerial/administrative tandem and finally, considering the fact that we were contemplating Arteta prior to hiring on Unai, don’t you think it might of been wise that we insisted that MA get some experience, even if only a year’s worth, as a prerequisite to him potentially being offered the position at a future date…btw “early days” Wenger refers to the glory days, from his initial hiring until the ribbon-cutting at the Emirates, which was innovative, progressive and awe-inspiring, from a footballing standpoint, unlike the rather underwhelming “latter years”

  16. Yes, he needed more experience and probably starting from a smaller club, Arsenal name is bigger than him especially after Wenger era.

    We are expecting much from him, and so far he wasn’t consistent!

  17. Biggest mistake Arsenal or Arteta made. He should have started at the bottom like most. He has too many character flaws and they spill over. Grudges, constant changes and no stability, poor tactics, poor playing style, micro-management……etc etc, all those characteristics could have been trialled and errored at a lower club. It has cost Arsenal dearly. With Arteta it not possible to have a team at the top, challenging.

  18. Article on Arteta gets more airtime then an article on arsenal.

    Same was true on wenger articles, unai articles… anyone see the link?

    Too much obsession on the manager then the club!

    Where is the article on Arteta wearing the wrong socks??

    Why does the continuous debate occur so early in the season…. people have hung a man out to die, case closed no listening to anything else.

    We win we moan, we loss we moan, we draw we moan, we buy we moan, we sell we moan, we try we moan….

    I’m bored

  19. Whoever says this transfer window was bad is in love with their agenda, if you ask me.

    As much as I’d sack Arteta and Edu if I had the power, they did have a great transfer window. Every signing they made was an actual upgrade. They didn’t shift some of the deadwood nor did they get a 1st choice striker. I do believe that either Laca or Auba will be sold come January.

    Auba probably got a half-season to prove himself worthy of the contract.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs