A new era has begun, folks.
Mikel Arteta, the prodigal son, is about to lead his first training session as head coach of the Arsenal, after leaving the Club three years ago.
It’s safe to say that the whole place is excited: the former Manchester City assistant coach had everyone lighted up during a flawless first press conference, speaking of commitment, attacking football, rediscovering the Club’s identity and restoring some pride.
In a stream of questions about his philosophy, his learning curve and his style of play, only one was about the results that Mikel Arteta is expected to achieve, in spite of our current position in the league and the impelling need to get back to the Champions League.
Why is that? How is everyone perfectly fine with Mikel Arteta being given a free pass until the end of the season? It sounds mature and sensible from a crowd who hasn’t really presented its best face in the past three years or so.
I’m fully behind Mikel Arteta and the concept of him having enough time to assess the situation, think of any improvements and implement them – on the pitch and in the squad.
It will require time, energy and some investments from the board so it makes all the sense in the world to give him time and support.
I believe it’s down to the fact that Mikel Arteta represents a vision, a philosophy and not only the person in charge of bringing results, something Unai Emery was ultimately unable to be.
Unlike Unai Emery – the pragmatist – Mikel Arteta is a visionary, a man of high principles, in the same mould of Pep Guardiola or Arsène Wenger, his mentors.
At the Arsenal we’re likely to enter another phase of inconsistent results, ups and downs, big changes and disappointing seasons but it might feel completely different when compared to Unai Emery’s last nine months in charge.
As painful as it is to miss out on our goals, it feels completely different when we fail while trying to build something, whether it is giving playing time to youth players, implementing an intricate way of playing or change the mentality.
Unai Emery’s unforgivable sin was to put all his eggs in the “Results” basket, which left him with nothing to show when things didn’t work, one of the few mistakes that Arsène Wenger never made.
While the lack of bravery proved to be Unai Emery’s undoing, it was the Frenchman’s lifebelt: without the free-flowing attacking football, the youngsters blooded and trusted over the years and the innate elegance and class he carried himself with, the “Barren Years” would have been unbearable for many of us and would have resulted in Arsène Wenger’s dismissal much earlier that it actually happened.
Mikel Arteta seems to have picked up the best of Arsène Wenger and mixed it up with Pep Guardiola’s ruthlessness, which sounds extremely promising.
If, as a Club, we keep up with the initial buy-in and support this man and his mission, we might be up for a nice surprise; there will be many bumps along the road but we should stay focused on the building process, be happy with the step-by-step progress and forget about the results, for a long moment.
We’re about to enter a second era of no trophies and occasional banter, let’s not forget about it and keep our eyes and hearts on the bigger picture.
Up the Arsenal!