Mikel Arteta says he’s excited for Arsenal’s future after completing two years in charge of the club.
Buoyed by the form of his youthful squad and a run of three wins that has propelled the club into the top four for the first time since his predecessor, Unai Emery, was in charge, the Spaniard struck an optimistic chord as he took a moment to reflect on the distinct phases that have made up his hectic time at the helm.
“It’s been an incredible journey and I am really happy and proud with the company that I have had on the journey,” he told Arsenal.com ahead of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Sunderland.
“I would say we have been through different phases throughout those two years. A phase where straightaway we had to pick up results and try to turn around the situation we were in.
“Then we had the two trophies, which was a big lift and a great memories, apart from not having the people, our supporters with us to enjoy that one.
“Then a year where we had everything: we had Covid, we had so many changes around the club from top to bottom and a really difficult one to manage, with some difficult moments and then finishing the season in a really strong way.
“Now it is a new phase where we start to rebuild the team, we take a very clear direction with how we want to move forward with the club, a real connection between the team and supporters, the ownership and board and I think now it is excitement.
“Excitement to keep driving this project forward, to keep working with this really young squad, but ready to compete, to get better and take the club back to where it belongs.”
For much of the last 24 months, Covid-19 has provided an unwelcome backdrop to pretty much everything Arteta has had to contend with and, judging by the current situation, it’s likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
It’s been very draining for the Gunners’ lean leadership structure and for those across the rest of the club, both on and off the pitch.
“I think it is very difficult for everybody,” said Arteta of the latest wave.
“It is very difficult for yourself and the way you have to do your work, it is very difficult for Vinai [Venkatesham], because he is dealing with a lot of meetings, a lot of responsibilities to try to defend the interest of the club in the right way, it is difficult for the players, for myself, for the staff because we don’t know really who is going to be available to do what, and we are all trying to help each other and get the best out of the situation.
“We have to respect the decisions I made because we have to believe that those decisions are based first of all on the wellbeing of all of us, that we are involved and secondly because we have to protect the game, and that is important as well.”
When Covid first started throwing curve balls in Arteta’s direction, he wasn’t able to lean on any managerial experience to keep his best laid plans on track. He’s learned quickly that the only thing he can expect is the unexpected.
On his approach in the last few weeks, the boss said: “Have a really positive approach and your mindset ready that unpredictable things are going to happen – and stop complaining about everything that happens. Then you will find excuses, we can find excuses for everything.
“We know what is going to happen, we know bad news will come probably so we have to expect it and try to prevent it if we can with all the protocols we have. But we have to be prepared as well with Plan B, C and D.”