New Arsenal 1st Team COACH? (Thanks to Getty Images)
It now seems that our ex-skipper and the man who lead us to our first trophy in nine years in 2014 will be our new COACH and I for one am quite excited at the prospect. I have a soft spot for the man I admit and seemingly an affinity with him. I don’t write often these days but there was a time when I did, and two speculative articles in particular come to mind. Firstly, in the summer of 2011 I wrote a blog suggesting Arteta from Everton should be the man we signed to replace Fabregas. This, at a time when, as you would expect, our fans were desperate for a bigger name, went down like a lead balloon. A month later we signed him on deadline day. In May 2012, when Song was still at the club, I again wrote on Arteta, suggesting that Wenger should convert the Spaniard unto a DM, as he has all the intelligence and experience to be our Makelele. I was ridiculed for that piece and in August, having sold Alex Song, we did indeed see Arteta anchoring our midfield, allowing Ramsey t to have his best season in red and white and the team to win their first trophy in years.
Moving on over 5 years it seems the likeable, yet single-minded and determined Spaniard is to return to the club he served with distinction for 5 years on the pitch, as COACH. Many seem concerned at his lack of experience and are concerned he has not been a number one. In short, it is seen as a gamble. For me, it should not be seen as such IF the club get the structure, above him right. Why do I differ from so many other supporters? Because he is being brought in as first team COACH, not as manager. If we get the structure at the club correct, I feel this is a crucial distinction.
No one is disputing the fact Mikel Arteta is an accomplished COACH with a track record of improving talented players and taking them to a new level. Those denying this obvious fact are calling Pep, Sane, Sterling, De Bruyne liars, which they aren’t. I was told yesterday by a friend that Paul Davis, twice a title winner, under George Graham and for 16 years one of the leading trainers of coaches, at the PFA and now FA, who mentored Arteta thought is badges, described him as one of the best pupils he had worked with. His COACHING is modern, fresh, innovative and crucially enjoyed by his charges and the current Arsenal players, we know, found Emery’s methods dull and uninspiring. Much like the Bayern and Napoli squads under Ancelloti (no thanks.)
By now you won’t have failed to notice that I keep emboldening the words COACH and COACHING. This is because I consider this to be the key point at hand and it is why I welcome the Arteta appointment, but with reservations. Arsenal are looking to appoint a progressive, young, exciting COACH who can improve our squad, give our young talent confidence and implement a recognised structure and style. This is why I was not against the idea of Joachim Loew previously, despite his lack of club management, because Arsenal were not looking for a manager, but a first team COACH.
Therefore, the pressing issue for me is not whether Arteta is the right man for the COACHING job because we know he is a superb COACH. The question is, what is the structure above him, the lines of reporting and who is responsible for ensuring that structure is established and understood, thus allowing Arteta to do his job. Who is the Director of Football? Is it Raul or is it Edu and what are their responsibilities? What Arteta will need to succeed is a proper relationship with the DOF, in my view Edu and the two need to trust each other to implement a plan. Edu and the club need to be clear on the style of football, the players who fit and do not fit that style and know the timescale and economic restrictions around implementing that strategy. Sanllehi can go and do the deals but it should be Edu overseeing the identification and scouting of the talent the coach requires to implement the plan and the lines of communication between Arteta, COACH and Edu, Director of Football should always be open and two-way.
In conclusion, I welcome the appointment o f a young and talented COACH with the obvious affinity wit the club a huge bonus. The caveat and the concern for me is not the young, inexperienced COACH but the structure and clear roles created to allow to be a successful COACH and only a COACH.