A win v Chelsea was an incredible Boxing Day gift, and this makes it easier to write this post. But I would have written it anyway, as I believe there are good reasons to keep believing in Mikel to bring glory and beautiful football to the club eventually.
Five reasons to believe in Mikel Arteta:
- A football paradigm-shift takes time. Why was Mikel appointed by Arsenal? Inexperienced and young, he only offered enthusiasm, a vision for the game and having been taught by one of the best managers in the game; the sort of manager we should have appointed after Wenger left. So Arteta was given the job because he had a vision that fitted the club and the team – and it was not without risk. There will have been no illusion that not an evolution but a revolution was required to make Mikel’s vision – a paradigm shift in terms of system and style of football – a reality. Revolutions in football are hard as the players have the power and the unwanted players are hard to shift during these C19 days. Arteta needs much more time to create the right setting in terms of cultural changes, tactical adjustments and putting together the right group of players.
- His victories over the top teams are impressive. Other than JM – who does not currently manage a top team but has been successful enough to call him a top manager – Mikel has beaten them all this calendar year. This is a big sign that we have a manager who can prepare a team and give them confidence in the big games all the way to victory. For a young manager in his first season this is very impressive and promising.
- The signings of new players since he arrived are very promising too. Mari and Soares are good back-ups to first team players, Partey and Gabriel are top quality, and Willian, although yet to deliver on his investment, was a shrewd move imo. The only dubious one was Runarsson, and let’s not judge him too soon. He needs two more transfer windows to get the balance right in terms of his player group. This does not necessary mean spending loads of money, but half a dozen players will have to leave to make space for youngsters and two or three quality purchases. A new right FB, another quality central midfielder (as Allezkev has been telling us), and a CF who is strong in the air would do miracles I reckon – oh and a nr2 goalkeeper would be nice.
- Young players develop well under Mikel. He may not use them yet as much as many would prefer, but he is giving them chances and those who do well will keep playing. Arteta has to find the right balance between using both young and experienced players continuously, and it cannot be easy to keep all happy and motivated. If things do not go well we understandably cry out for change, any change, but Arteta will have to balance many needs and expectations, and I think he is doing a great job. Saka is getting better and better; Martinelli is getting chances straightaway from being fit again; ESR got his first start; Holding, although not that young anymore, is growing into a first choice for RCB, and; AMN and Eddie are getting chances to play themselves into the first team. Which other top-team manager is using so many young players this season?
- Arsenal are going through a difficult phase as Arteta’s vision and instructions are not baring fruit on the pitch as yet. The win against Chelsea is promising but we need to stay grounded and not just believe that all is fine now. We will see more ups and downs and the next two games, v Brighton and WBA, will be stern tests for him and the team. Yet I felt we were never played off the pitch, but did most of the damage ourselves. Arsenal were playing way below their levels and that is hard for the players: a mixture of nervousness and frustration set in and made things only worse. But sooner or later this will change again when the hard work on and off the pitch starts paying off; and for this we need a calm, humble and hard-working manager who just keeps believing in the course he has set out for the team. I have been very impressed by Mikel’s resolve and humanity during these very testing last few months. He does not blame, he does not hide, he suffers right in front of us, but he keeps believing and working hard to make the breakthroughs, and that is what I love about him.
So I see plenty of reasons to support Arteta, but then I do support our team as an amateur Stoic, and I can see this is not for everyone.
I will finish with a fine quote by Marcus Aurelius, probably the most qualified of all Stoics to give advise:
“When forced as it seems, by circumstances into utter confusion, get a hold of yourself quickly. Don’t be locked out by the rhythm any longer than necessary. You’ll be able to keep the beat if you are constantly returning to it.”