Mikel Arteta believes his Arsenal project will go “bang” (in a good way) when he and his team get the chance to work in normal conditions again.
It’s a year since the Spaniard’s positive diagnosis for Covid-19 sent English football into standby mode and the ensuing months of behind-closed-doors football, coupled with the financial ramifications of the pandemic, have ensured he’s had plenty of challenges to deal with during his first experience of managerial life.
While his side continues to blow hot and cold on the pitch, Arteta is confident that the foundations he’s laid in the last year stand the club in good stead for when lockdown restrictions ease.
“I could never imagine that when I got tested and I had the symptoms that – okay, I could be ill – but all the consequences of this virus on all of us.
“It’s been really challenging having the first job to do that. And after that having only been in the job for just three months in normal conditions to start to have a completely different context and framework to work in has been really challenging.
“At the same time, it’s made us as a club, much stronger. We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with our fans, with our staff. That’s going to make a big difference.
“I think in the future when everything comes to normality and we’re able to work the way that’s needed to work with some stability, I think this project is going to go bang. This is where we are but sometimes it’s difficult to see those moments now. I’m sure of what we’re doing.”
Given the club are out of the domestic cups, labouring in 10th place in the table and in desperate need of a Europa League run to salvage the season, there will be many who question Arteta’s suggestion that Arsenal are making progress under his watch.
While he can see things the rest of us can’t, the boss admitted that the only way to convince doubters, who are on the outside looking in, is for his side to win football matches.
“You need to win to convince anybody that you’re doing a good job that the club is going in the right direction,” he said.
“If you are not inside every day and know exactly what is happening at the club, the only way to convince people outside the club is to win.
“It doesn’t matter how well you play and if you deserve to win every match. If you don’t win it, we are not going to convince you or any fan or supporter that we are doing a great job. It’s only about winning and that’s the only way to convince people.”