Arsene Wenger believes Mikel Arteta has a great future as a coach ahead of him but also made clear that the Spaniard must assemble a strong team around him to cope with the pressure of life as the main man in charge.
It’s widely expected that Arsenal will confirm Arteta as the club’s new head coach before the weekend, a role that he came close to being handed when Wenger left the club in the summer of 2018. On that occasion, Arteta was overlooked in favour of Unai Emery.
Having spent over 35 years as a coach, Wenger, now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, knows exactly what it takes to succeed at the highest level and believes his former captain has what it takes.
Always the diplomat, Wenger stressed that until the Spaniard is confirmed in the role, he’ll continue to back fellow ex-Gunner Freddie Ljungberg, currently holding the position on an interim basis.
“I am an Arsenal supporter,” Wenger said. “And at the moment I support the manager in charge and the manager in charge is Ljungberg. When Arteta will be in charge I will support Arteta.
“He (Arteta) is intelligent, he has passion, he has knowledge, but Ljungberg [does] as well.
“I believe that Arteta has certainly a great future, he has certainly learned a lot in his first position as an assistant coach and after that as well he will have to deal with the fact that he has no experience at that level and he will have to get surrounded well.”
As far back as 2015, when Arteta was still playing in Arsenal’s midfield, Wenger backed the Spaniard for a role in the dugout.
Here’s what he told Arsenal Player: “Mikel has a huge influence even when he is not playing. He is super conscientious, and every morning two hours before training he prepares and that is absolutely right.
“Just through his behaviour, his focus on getting everything right in the team, he has a huge influence. He has great experience and is respected throughout the squad.
“I really hope Mikel considers going into coaching. When you manage, you want to see your players continue and see them give their experience and knowledge back.
“You want them to give their expertise of the way we want to play football and the way we want to behave. It would be great if someone like Mikel went into management, so somewhere the spirit of our game can survive through the players who have played for us.”
Back in the present, Wenger was asked about Arsenal’s recent struggles – we’ve won just two of our last 13 games – and appeared to suggest that problems could be fixed quickly with the right recruitment policy.
“When I left the club was in a very strong financial position and they bought many players in-between – they have not all worked out,” he said.
“I believe that it’s not a question of time. The change can be very efficient very quickly, it’s just about the right decision-making and that’s all that it’s about in football, it’s about good players.
“We speak about the success of Liverpool, of course they have a great manager, but you have to say as well that in the last three-four years, they bought the right players.”