Southampton awaits tonight and the pressure against Mikel Arteta has never been greater in his short stint into football management. Now I know the instant reaction to a defeat results in micro analysing every detail and often an anger fuelled decision in that moment that everyone needs to be sacked.
I often like to play devil’s advocate and weigh up both sides of the story before jumping to the simple conclusion that Arteta is not the right man and needs instant dismissal. In this instance I have to sway towards the give Arteta time side of the fence.
Yes, I agree the Spaniard has made some glaring mistakes; his continued insistence on selecting Willian over any other player is an annoyance I do agree with. The persistence with players out of form in general rather than choosing on merit (or the younger hungrier players) is something the manager should really address. With each defeat the drum beating for the likes of Ozil, Torreira, Saliba and Guendouzi gets louder because now if the results aren’t great with the players he chose over them then fans have every right to question.
But Mikel Arteta is at the beginning of a journey, this was never a 6 month project to turn us into the new Man City. We have to think in the long term here, he’s had one transfer window acquiring some but not all of his targets. Targets that may have made a difference to the team right now and may well come in during the January window.
When Mikel was signed up we as Arsenal fans had learned from Unai Emery that there is no quick fix, we had a manager who was experienced and won things and yet by the end of his tenure it’s safe to say he failed to live up to what Arsenal fans hoped.
There was a general consensus from Arsenal fans that yes Mikel is inexperienced but he’s a former play that would understand our values, he was also part of a highly successful management team under Pep Guardiola. Learning from Emery there is no quick fix and we would need to give our manager time. This will be a 2/3 year project to get us back to a level of expectation for an Arsenal team. We had witnessed not only with ourselves but with other teams replacing a top manager will result in a lot of bumps. It will get worse before it gets better and we will need to give Mikel time and stand by him.
So why is it 10 or so games into the season fans are screaming for his sacking? Let’s be real here we are not going to win the league and we are not going to be relegated. We are in a transitional phase right now and things are being tried and tested, a lot hasn’t come off but we are currently in a period that is not an unpredictable revelation. We all knew it wouldn’t be plain sailing. Why sack the manager at the very first period of not so favourable results? He will learn from what he has done, the results will improve another transfer window may well provide the reinforcements needed to bring the greater plan to fruition.
Now I’m not saying every fan that wants him out is flat wrong but I’m arguing the point that he needs time to right his wrongs, build his team and rebuild Arsenal back to what we want. If 10 games are all it takes to decide a manager is good enough then we will fall into a never ending cycle of disappointment. Many top managers names are being bandied about to replace Mikel Arteta but I do wonder how much time those managers would be given taking into account they will have the credentials of winning? The expectation levels needs to be realigned to one that factors in some time for the manager. Any manager that comes in needs time and we will face the same problem on a constant loop if we can’t give the manager a bit of leeway to get things right.
The Burnley result was terrible but we were let down but Xhaka who made an error of judgement which all Arsenal players should know better about. With 11 on the pitch we were in control and growing stronger.
We had fans back for the Burnley game and yet the ‘Highbury the Library’ tag never sung truer by the silence around the stadium for majority of the game. If as fans and one of the lucky 2000 that had the chance to attend the match it would have been nice to have some vocal support that would 1. boost the Arsenal player’s confidence and 2. Intimidate the opposition. There was a lot more vocal support in the previous Europa game but it seemed very silent at a time the team needed the fans most. The only clear noise heard was the booing at full time. It would have been nice to have had a 12th man advantage but that never materialised. Now as we have entered Tier 3 in London we don’t have that for the Southampton game. We are back into the situation where no fans led to more away wins than home in the premiership. Needless to say this season is full of weird results. Yes Southampton is in form but was West Brom in form when they went to the Etihad last night?
The goals will come back, the wins will come back and the performances will come back. Just have patience, dare I use the term Trust The Process.