Arteta’s first six months as Arsenal Head Coach revealed
Mikel Arteta has been at the helm of Arsenal Football Club for just under six months. In his first 3 months in North London, the shift in energy at the club was evident. A club that seemed out of oxygen in December looked reborn and up for a fight in March. Results under the former Arsenal skipper have been much improved and while everybody is aware that there is a lot of work still to be done, the consensus is that Arteta is the right person to trust with the task that lies ahead.
The suspension of domestic football in England due to the coronavirus came at an inopportune time for Arteta and his Arsenal squad. The former City assistant manager has, however, used these last three months to get to know his team better and improve his roadmap for the Gunners’ future.
The Athletic has taken a closer look into Arteta’s time with the Gunners so far.
Arsenal Technical Director Edu Gaspar had this to say about his first conversation with Arteta:
“It was about concepts, respect, people and staff not football. I was really surprised we connected straight away with our ideas, philosophy and lifestyle. So before we went through the technical part, I felt he was a special guy.”
Edu on Arteta’s management:
“I remember a match we lost or drew at home and didn’t have the best performance. But the way he talked to the players I really liked. It’s easy to connect to people when you win… But when you don’t win it shows a lot more about you as a coach.”
Edu on Arteta’s role in recruitment:
“Mikel has to be involved in recruitment, he must. We talk about what we need, the characteristics of the players, the system we’re going to play and then I start the process internally. That’s my role.”
Arsenal Director Josh Kroenke on Arteta’s interview:
“We spoke about club culture and setting a new tone. He told me some of the thoughts that he had and ideas they had done at City. It’s going to take some time — we’ve got a long road ahead of us. But the culture is changing.”
Josh Kroenke on Arsenal’s culture:
“Culture becomes cliche at times but it’s a very real thing. Mikel is making an imprint on the club that should hopefully play out over the next several years with improved results on the pitch, but it starts with a foundation.”
A staff member on Arsenal returning to training:
“I forgot how fun training is under Mikel. You saw people smile again, people who looked happy to come into work again, people happy to train again.”
Maintaining discipline in the squad
The Arsenal head coach has introduced a ‘wheel of fortune’. If a player breaks a rule like being late to a team meeting, he must spin the wheel to see what his punishment is. Some punishments include paying a modest fine, cleaning the dressing room and even polishing the skipper’s car.
Before he even gets to work, Arteta receives information related to training and fitness on his phone. His staff get to work by 7:30 am and they have breakfast. The squad arrives at 9:45 am to begin their preparations. The team meets at 11:00 am to run through clips and crucial messages.
During the lockdown, Arteta and his staff maintained contact with all members of the senior squad and provided them with specific tactical tasks. The goalkeepers were told to pay extra attention to their starting position because the head coach plans to use them more as Arsenal play out from the back.
The squad is under strict instructions by Arteta to commit a player from the opposing team before making a pass so that one player is eliminated from the game. He has spent a lot of time co-ordinating the press and has stressed on the importance of players remaining switched on when out of possession. The players have bought into his plans.
Arteta’s predecessors were called ‘boss’ by the squad. He is addressed as ‘Mister’ or ‘Mikel’ by the team.
Relationship with Aubameyang
Arteta had some doubts about Aubameyang’s lifestyle and professionalism. Guardiola’s Manchester City were close to signing him but decided against doing so for the same reasons. Arteta made it a point to sit down with his club captain and communicate to him that he had been proven wrong.
Arteta has formed a bond with the player during his time with the Gunners. He has personally intervened to convince the Gabon international to stay at the club. Pierre-Francois Aubameyang, father of Pierre-Emerick, looks after his son’s interests and has an inclination to conduct meetings in person rather than remotely. Until recently, that has not been possible and so there has not been much progress made on that front.
The Arsenal head coach organised a team meeting on June 12th. He looked his team in the eyes and demanded that the club have a change of attitude. He explained that it was no longer acceptable to say that they could beat anyone on their day. He said that it should be their day everyday. This is likely to be reflected in the team that he chooses for Arsenal’s first Premier League game back against Manchester City at the Etihad.
According to a source close to the club:
“Mikel has that ‘Arsene’ way of getting you to want to follow him.”