Mikel Arteta admits that he braces himself for bad news every morning as Covid-19 wreaks havoc with his day-to-day role of preparing his Arsenal players for matches.
While Premier League clubs worked their way back from lockdown to complete last season, the new campaign has been complicated by the return of international football and the dangers of allowing players to leave the protective elite-sport ‘bubble’ that has been cultivated in recent months.
Last month, Kieran Tierney had to self-isolate after a Scotland teammate tested positive for Covid-19 and in recent days both Sead Kolasinac and Mohamed Elneny have tested positive for the virus. After Willian ignored government advice on foreign travel to jet off to Dubai – something the club have spoken to the Brazilian about – the boss admits that he’s had to change the way he mentally approaches each day.
Asked if being a manager is ‘all-consuming’, he told his pre-Leeds press conference: “At the moment in the actual context [of Covid-19] it makes it that way.
“I feel so privileged to be where I am because I love so much what I do, I love to be sitting representing this football club and having the opportunity to spend time with these players and staff.
“But I think it is becoming a job where every time you are resolving issues and resolving problems. If you get shocked by that every day, then energy-wise it is very consuming.
“I come in now and I am expecting something to come in through the door and give me bad news and having to react quickly because I know it is coming right now.
“I try to prepare myself and my mood in the morning to say, ‘Okay, let’s see what we face today and let’s go for it.’”
It’s coming up to 11 months since Arteta took over as the main man in the dugout at the Emirates and he’s learned quickly that resilience is an important trait for any manager.
“Absolutely, and how you bounce back, how you navigate through difficult moments and how convinced you are about what you are doing and at the end of the day, how you judge yourself on the decisions you make, and where those decisions are coming at the end from you. Is it a real feeling, do you do it for someone else, or for any other opinion, or do you think it is the right thing for the club, the players or the staff.”
“It’s not ideal but we need to go through this. We are learning every day about it and there’s not much that we as managers can do as well.”