Mikel Arteta says he feels like he’s returned home after he was appointed Arsenal’s head coach three-and-a-half years after he retired as a player at the club.
Arteta has been handed a four-year deal and will watch the Gunners against Everton from the stands tomorrow before formally taking over on Sunday.
In his first press conference, the 37-year-old explained why he believes he’s the right man to lead Arsenal at a time when the club is struggling on the pitch.
“I feel back home, I’m extremely happy and proud to be given the opportunity to be the manager of this football club,” he said.
“I’ve been preparing for a few years for this challenge, I know the expectations, I know the level, I know the stature of this club and what it deserves. I’m ready for that challenge.
“I can’t wait to start working with the players and everybody at the club. I’ve got a good vibe. I sense a good energy since I walked in at London Colney. It’s giving me more energy. I feel so happy. I can’t say anything else.”
Arsenal have won just two of their last 13 games in all competitions and currently sit in 10th place in the Premier League, seven points off the Champions League places. Arteta knows he needs to make an instant impact and to boost the confidence of a squad playing well below the standards expected.
“The first thing is to change the energy,” he explained. “Last week, I was here with Manchester City and I was a little bit down after the game when I felt what was going on.
“We have to try and engage everyone. I have to try and convince the players of what I want to do and how I want to do it. They have to start accepting a different process, a different way of thinking. I want to get the staff and everyone at the club with the same mindset.
“We have to build a culture that has to sustain the rest. If we don’t have the right culture…in difficult moments, the tree is going to shake, my job is to convince everybody this is how we’re going to live. If you’re going to be part of this organisation it has to be on these terms and in this way. After that, we can talk about other things.
“Obviously now, we need an immediate impact, we need to start winning games to raise the level of confidence of the players.
Finally, we need the fans. We need to engage with them, we need to transmit our behaviours and our intentions and what we want to bring to this football club. That’s the only way. If we give them, they’ll give us a little bit back. Then we’ll start to feel the connection.
“We need these two things together. When they are together it’s so powerful. I’ve been outside this football club and when you’re outside, you realise how massive it is. This is how I feel. I’m excited, I feel we have the right team, I’ve had many conversations with the senior people at the club. I feel we’re on the same path. I have a good feeling.”
Put to him that Arsenal have lost their way in recent years – the club haven’t qualified for the Champions League since finishing runners-up to Leicester in 2015/16 – Arteta agreed.
“That’s what I’m sensing from the outside. I’d like to start making some steps to understand the reasons why, what the reasons are behind it.
“There will be a history behind it. I have to try and understand quickly why this is to implement certain things that will be quick wins for the players and staff and everybody. That’s the challenge now. I don’t have much time to train, much time talk about other things.
“There are some important games coming up and we need to create the right vibe and energy. Everybody at the organisation has to feel so privileged to be here. There’s no other way.”