Why Mikel Arteta Is All Wrong for Arsenal

Mikel Arteta
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Coach of Manchester City, Mikel Arteta looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on March 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Some people cannot help but wonder if the reason that Arsenal are apparently considering appointing Mikel Arteta is that, like Arsenal, the first two letters of his surname are ‘A’ and ‘R’. In fact, that must be the reason. There is absolutely no other good reason for making him the club’s new manager.

Mikel Arteta Is All Wrong for Arsenal

Arteta’s appointment is not a done deal yet. However, all the rumours and reports coming out of Arsenal suggest that he is the front-runner to replace Arsene Wenger. Frankly, that is absolutely extraordinary. There are at least three compelling reasons why he is the wrong man for the job.

The First Argument

The first is obvious: Arteta has no managerial experience whatsoever. It is all very well that he was apparently nicknamed ‘coach’ by some of his team-mates during his time as a player at Arsenal. This was because of his studious approach to the game. However, that does not qualify him to become the club’s next manager.

Similarly, spending two years as Pep Guardiola’s ‘number two’ does not prepare him for a managerial stint at The Emirates. Guardiola may be the best manager of his generation, but he has been a manager now for nearly a decade. Consequently, it is extremely unlikely that Arteta has contributed much to his development as a manager in the short time that he has been sitting beside him in the dugout.

The last number two to Guardiola to be given a managerial position was Tito Vilanova. He became Barcelona manager when Guardiola quit the Nou Camp in 2012; burned out by his four years in charge of the Catalan giants. Vilanova did win La Liga in his sole season in charge. Though, he also oversaw one of Barca’s worst ever defeats in European competition. This was when they lost 7-0 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League semi-final.

Moreover, what is particularly galling about Arsenal’s apparent rush to appoint Arteta is that it makes a complete mockery of the argument that experienced and successful Premier League managers like Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche are unworthy of being considered. This is purely on the basis that they have only managed so-called ‘small clubs’. Well, Arteta has never managed any club at all, so why is he being considered?

The Second Argument

The second compelling argument against Arteta’s appointment is that his own lack of experience as a manager is compounded by the lack of experience in appointing managers of the man championing his cause, Ivan Gazidis, the club’s chief executive. Gazidis has never had to appoint a manager, at least in England. Famously, of course, he was interviewed for his own position by Wenger himself. He was supposedly going to be Wenger’s boss. Consequently, a major gamble on Arteta is made even more reckless by the fact that the man appointing him has absolutely no track record of identifying managerial talent. If Gazidis had proven experience of appointing even one unproven manager who had then turned out to be a success, that would be something, but he has no such experience.

It is true that any appointment is likely to be a gamble. In the case of Arteta, though, the gamble will be a huge one. There is absolutely no guarantee that it will pay off, especially when the man making it – Gazidis – cannot point to even one prior instance of successfully appointing a manager.

The Third Argument

The third and final compelling argument against Arteta’s appointment is not so much about the appointment itself as what it would represent, namely that Arsenal, whose fans at least still regard them as a big club that should be challenging for the biggest prizes, are no longer a big club. If they were still a big club, they would surely be trying to appoint the best man possible for the job; a proven number one with a proven track record of winning major prizes.

By that measure, Arsenal should only be considering the likes of Diego Simeone and Massimiliano Allegri. They have all won domestic titles and made significant inroads in European competition; achievements, of course, that Wenger himself was incapable of in his last decade at Arsenal.

Instead, if all the rumours and reports are true, Arsenal are not seriously considering such men but instead are contenting themselves with a ‘number two’, and not even a long-established ‘number two’ like Rui Faria or Željko Buvač, who have sat beside Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp respectively for more than 15 years, but Arteta, a relative novice as a ‘number two’ and a total novice as a ‘number one’.

Nothing to Lose?

Of all the other arguments against appointing Arteta as the new Arsenal manager, probably the most egregious is that the club have ‘nothing to lose’ in doing so. Nothing could be further from the truth. Arsenal have already been allowed to drift aimlessly for more than a decade. During this time they have adopted spectacularly bad habits; from poor contract control of star players to the complete erosion of the club’s once famous defensive ability.

If Arteta is appointed as the manager, even more time will be lost in the future. And if that is the case, before too much more time has passed Arsenal will effectively be also-rans, a second-tier club whose sole ambition is to compete in the Champions League and not to win either the Premier League or the Champions League. That is why Arteta is all wrong for Arsenal. One can only hope that the power-brokers realise that themselves before they make such a ridiculous, utterly indefensible appointment.

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