Mikel Arteta says his players can call him whatever they like, dismissing suggestions by Roy Keane that he’s being disrespected when they don’t refer to him as ‘boss’ or ‘gaffer’.
Working as a pundit for Sky Sports on Sunday, the Irishman – who was in a major grump after watching his former side get beaten by Arsenal at Old Trafford – took umbrage with club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang referring to Arteta as ‘Mikel’. His actual name.
“They didn’t show him respect when they called him by his name Mikel,” he growled as smoke whistled from his ears and his face went puce like a constipated toddler. “He is the manager, the boss, the gaffer. That’s respect. Not Mikel.”
Ahead of the Gunners’ Europa League clash with Molde on Thursday, Arteta was asked about Keane’s comments and whether it was an issue that concerned him.
“No,” he said, “I was told that Roy [Keane] mentioned that. I don’t know. I think it’s something very particular [to him].
“I give them the choice to call me whatever they are comfortable with. With some of them, I obviously shared a dressing room and for me, I don’t feel disrespected.
“I understand why he’s saying that as a [former] player, but I feel so close with them, some I even played together with them, so for me it’s not the way I’d feel respected or disrespected.”
He added: “I leave them the choice. Some call me boss, some call me coach, the French guys as well, they call me coach. It’s not an issue for me.”
Arteta also made clear that the players with whom he shared a pitch at the tail-end of his career – Calum Chambers, Mesut Ozil, Emi Martinez, Hector Bellerin and Mohamed Elneny – were quick to adapt to a changed dynamic in their relationship. That said, it did play on his mind before taking the job.
“Well, it’s something that before I joined I was a bit concerned by but at the moment, I’m not.
“It’s not just something that has to come from me, it comes from both parties, they both have to understand, respect and go about the relationship in the same way [as me]. To be fair, they made it really, really easy for me in that sense.
“Obviously, the feeling I have for them, that won’t change whether I’m on one side or the other. At the end, we’re part of the same thing. It’s not been something difficult, I have to be honest. It’s not been difficult to manage.”
We hope Roy is able to digest the above without choking.