Mikel Arteta has praised the way his staff and players have reacted to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and says he’s using the unusual circumstances to deepen his relationship with the team he assembled in December.
Arteta’s positive diagnosis for Covid-19 sparked a rapid escalation in English football’s response to the virus. Within days the Premier League campaign was suspended and it remains so for at least another month.
Despite coming out the other side of things unscathed, he urged people not to take the virus lightly and thanked all those frontline healthcare workers across the globe who are putting themselves on the line for their peers.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, he said: “We are living in a unique situation, so I think all of us are trying to react to the situation that is coming on a daily basis and trying our best to overcome the situation.
“First of all I would like to send a message to all the people who have lost their loved ones, those who are suffering in hospitals, having difficult moments and are sick – we have a massive gratitude to everyone who is involved in healthcare, in hospitals, people in services, people trying to provide food, transportation, everything that is so relevant to us.
“And please to everybody, we are a little bit behind other countries, for example Spain, where I know the situation they are living at the moment, and while we are having the opportunity a little bit to minimise the risk, I encourage everybody please to be responsible and stay at home as much as possible.
“That is all we can do from our position, we don’t have the ability to help others in other circumstances, so please at least stay at home and do what is required.
“We have to try to help the NHS as much as possible and we have to give the opportunity to the elderly people who needs this more than anybody else to get the treatment they require. We have to slow the process down and the virus down, so please stay at home.”
It’s hardly ideal to be stuck indoors away from your players, however, for a new coach who has endured such a hectic start to life at the Emirates, Arteta appreciates the opportunity to get to know his staff on a deeper level.
He said: “First of all it’s a great opportunity for me to get to know the people there and I was talking before about the senior people at the club, but as well my own coaching staff, the people that are related on a daily basis.
“And then the communication with the players. Now I’m at home, they are not sitting next to me. We can open conversations in a different way and I think that over a worldwide situation it’s affecting them and it’s making them feel more human and vulnerable as well. They can feel relaxed talking about anything that we have to do. So I’m taking that opportunity as well to share different conversations with them that in my opinion have been really useful.”
He added: “I’m really impressed and I feel proud of where I am,” he said when asked about how the club is operating.
“In difficult moments is where you really see the people and how they react, how they think and how they prioritise things.
“All the phone calls I’m having with all the members of the board and all my technical staff, all the coaching staff, all the players, how aware and how encouraged they all are to try to help, to try to be on board with the situation and to try to make things easier for the club has been amazing.
“To be fair I have to say that I’m very privileged to work with these people.”
He went on to reveal how he and the training team are working with the players, who’ve all been set individual fitness plans to see them through until team sessions can resume again.
“There are different aspects that we have to try to maintain,” he said.
“One is health and that’s the most important one for sure. We’re just trying to cover all the necessities that players, staff and employees need to try to sustain the club with healthy people. That’s the first one and that’s our responsibility.
“The second one is the physical aspect. They all have programmes and they all have individual work to do that they are really doing and really trying to maintain themselves so they can prepare themselves for when we have to get back playing. The third one is the mind.
“There is the psychological support that they need, which we are giving them, and as well I’m giving them a lot of homework to do because I’ve been reviewing everything that we’ve been doing since I joined.
“There are things we have to maintain doing, improve and develop, and individually they are really enjoying the challenge. We might get a few coaches after this virus, or at least a few players that are willing to go down that path because I think they are really enjoying the process.”
We have to say, we’re very impressed with Mikel’s words on the situation. He speaks with real authority and maturity. He also turns 38 today, so happy birthday to him.
We’d urge you to watch / read the full interview on Arsenal.com.