Mikel Arteta says he gave everything as an assistant to Pep Guardiola but admits he now realises you have to be a head coach to understand the rigours of the profession.
The Spaniard has been flying solo at Arsenal since late December and has barely had a moment to take stock.
In the space of 12 weeks he’s appointed his coaching staff, traversed a transfer window, played 15 fixtures and been on a mid-season break to Dubai.
Ahead of Wednesday’s trip to the Etihad, his first game against Pep Guardiola since his move, Arteta reflected on his new life and how he continues to stay in touch with his mentor.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “I thought with Pep and City it was [24/7], I always felt it that way and I always lived the profession like this when I was an assistant. But you need to live being a manager to really understand the role.
“We are very much in contact, there are things you can’t forget quickly. He’s someone that is very supportive to me and we have a great relationship so obviously we talk.
“Since I was 15, he was captain of Barcelona, and he was a role model for me. Then we played together a little bit, we moved away, he did his life. Then we started to talk again and about the possibility to work together in England and we have spent a fantastic four years together.”
It’s well known that Arteta’s relationship with Guardiola was forged at the Camp Nou and that the pair stayed in touch despite geography separating them for more than a decade. Naturally, it’s assumed that the young pretender has been soaking up the philosophy, methods and ideas of his older friend.
“He certainly had an influence on me as a player,” said Arteta. “Then as a manager at Barcelona, the way he transformed that club and the way he made them play.
“Obviously, when you are with him every day you see why he is such a successful manager, why he’s won everything he’s won and why he always makes his team play the way he does.
“There are a lot of similarities to what I want to do but obviously everybody is different.”
Last year, City won the domestic treble and it was said that Arteta was the perfect candidate to step into Guardiola’s shoes should the Spaniard look for a new challenge. Having flown the coop, albeit to return to a familiar nest, that scenario, for the time being, seems unlikely.
“When you make a decision you have to be glad,” he said.
“I’m so happy that I am here and I’m so proud about the possibility I’ve been given to manage this football club and about the process we’re in, the buy-in from the players, the staff and the club and the trust they are showing me. What I had was fabulous but now I’m focused on here.”