Steve Round believes Arsenal have put in place the foundations to become a ‘real force’ with Mikel Arteta building a young squad imbued with ‘togetherness and spirit’.
The 51-year-old assistant coach was the Spaniard’s first appointment when he returned to Emirates Stadium in December 2019 and he’s witnessed first-hand the raft of changes that have been implemented behind the scenes during testing times for the club.
While it remains to be seen if Arsenal can cap off a season of encouraging improvement with qualification for the Champions League, Round, who tends to shy away from the limelight, is certain that the club is heading in the right direction.
“In Mikel Arteta, we’ve got an exceptional manager – there’s no doubt about that,” Round told the official matchday programme ahead of the win over Manchester United.
“And an incredible person too, the sky’s the limit for him.
“The job he’s done over the past couple of years is amazing – the changes he’s made and how he’s started to develop this exciting, fresh new team.
“He’s building a real togetherness and spirit, not only with the players but within the whole club.”
He continued: “There’s been huge change at the club and we’ve now got a really fresh and exciting team.
“When you are developing like this, you know there are going to be bumps in the road, of course there are. But they are starting to build a resilience, a robustness, a spirt and a cohesive togetherness which is really exciting.
“They have gelled. When they lose they are devastated – devastated for each other, the team and the fans. And when they win they are so together and spirited. The connection is definitely there and it’s a joy to be a part of.
“Yes we need to improve, yes we need to be better and more consistent, but when you realise the average age of this squad – the next three or four years look very exciting.
“There’s something here we can get behind and if we keep developing we can become a real, real force for years to come, I’m sure.”
Round also paid tribute to the contribution of his fellow coaches, which, in addition to the experienced Albert Stuivenberg, includes two twenty-somethings in Miguel Molina and Carlos Cuesta and new set piece coach Nicolas Jover.
“At the club right now, we’ve got a lot of talented colleagues behind the scenes,” he explained.
“We’ve all got different roles to look at within the game, and Mikel takes all that information, processes it and then uses it with his own perspective.
“I’ve got to say we’ve got an exceptional coaching team around us, and although some of them are young, their knowledge is just amazing.
“They are incredibly good communicators and very forward-thinking in the way they use technology and get their message across. That’s very applicable to the new modern player.
“It’s important to have a lot of communication throughout the coaching group, we have diverse thinkers but everybody is on the same page and has the same aligned culture. We want to develop every day and everyone within the club and Mikel is very big on this. We share everything, we’re very open-minded.”