Arsenal’s Appointment of Mikel Arteta Shows Signs of a Modern Club
The Mikel Arteta hype train is cruising along without a hitch, and it is lovely to see. It may be early doors in his managerial career, but the Basque headmaster has turned heads since he replaced his native colleague along the Emirates touchline.
Though met with initial trepidation from certain sections of the Arsenal fanbase regarding his overall managerial inexperience, early signs are positive that the former midfielder can hack it in the top echelon of European football.
It wasn’t an easy bedding period, either. In the stands against another former employer in Everton, Arteta took charge for the first time away at Bournemouth; a venue that has given us one or two headaches in recent memory. Three days later he would lock horns with former Premier League adversary-turned-manager Frank Lampard and Chelsea, only to be gifted dates with Manchester United and then Leeds United in the FA Cup.
If you were to ask the majority of Arsenal fans if they would accept a 2-1-1 record after his first four outings, they’d happily take it. With Crystal Palace and Sheffield United around the corner, further tricky opponents are just over the horizon, but for the first time in a year, fans are hopeful and optimistic.
There is no telling if this is the response Josh Kroenke, Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham, and Edu were counting on, but I for one would like to think that this was part of what finally brought Arteta back to north London after he turned down our advances in the prelude to Unai Emery’s hiring.
In a time where many have taken to social media – in its various forms – to speak out about never feeling more disconnected from the club that countless have had a life-long love affair with, the appointment of Arteta could well be the first step in rebuilding a framework that was on the verge of collapse.
What is important to note is just how effective – and common – an appointment like this is; not so much in England, but on the continent.
The notion of getting into management once you hang up your boots is a popular one across Europe. By comparison, more and more ex-professionals in England go the route of punditry, journalism, or they choose to remain connected with a club in a tertiary role. But for many in places like Spain, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, taking up the task of managing at a club that you once donned the crest for is both popular and highly appealing.
Currently, the two best managers in the Premier League started writing their managerial stories at the clubs where they made their playing careers.
For Jürgen Klopp, after 325 Bundesliga appearances for Mainz 05, he immediately transitioned management with Die Nullfünfer after retirement.
As for Pep, everyone knows his managerial story: La Masia graduate, to club fan-favourite, and finally, arguably the best manager in the club’s history bar a certain Johan Cruyff.
Other recent and successful examples of former players who returned in order to manage include Frank De Boer, Phillip Cocu, Giovanni van Bronkhorst, and Frank Lampard (at current).
Additional examples closer to home for Premier League fans come by way of David Wagner, Daniel Farke, and Graham Potter.
Further still, we can see other “new age” examples such as Julian Nagelsmann and Florian Kohfeldt, young managers who jumped into big charges after completing their coaching education, which is growing ever-more popular.
The common factor in all these examples is the fact that all that were mentioned had very little to no experience as a manager before taking up their posts, with Lampard being the only one to begin his coaching journey in England. The debate of whether or not coaching education in England is good enough to breed the likes of Nagelsmann (hint: it isn’t) is a separate one.
What is undeniable is that level of experience is a convenient crutch for many to lean on when considering who should be the next man in charge at a particular club in question. Other factors are far more important, and the success of those listed above speaks to that very fact.
Between them are countless stories of success. Pep and Klopp are at the highest rung of football. Lampard has revitalized a Chelsea side that many thought would be in serious decline. The former Dutch international trio all won multiple pieces of silverware at Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord respectfully.
Wagner, Farke, and Potter elevated their sides to a level far beyond expectation, while Nagelsmann is the most sought after young manager in the world, and Kohfeldt won’t be far behind him in time.
Yes, there are countless cautionary tales as well regarding young managers: Thierry Henry being an example closer to home for us. But what is important to remember is that Arteta has been the protégé of a man who has seen and done it all, and under very similar circumstances.
Arteta on the touchline has won over his detractors and re-affirmed the opinions of those who supported the idea from its infancy. But this appointment is so much more than just appeasing the masses, a sentiment supported by the positive showings and improvement on the pitch we have already seen in just a few outings.
A man who is a proponent of modern and progressive football who understands what it means to play for a club of this size. Most importantly he lived and breathed the culture and wants to instil a sense of always playing with all you have for the fans that support you. This was a modern, European-style appointment that matches the long-term vision for the club since we left the Home of Football.
While there is still a teething period under Mikel Arteta, restoring “the Arsenal way” both on and off the pitch is a gigantic leap that needs to be taken. If early signs are anything to go by, our former FA Cup-winning captain is up to the task.