A few weeks ago, Mikel Arteta revealed to journalist Michael Calvin that he was a member of a coaching collective that meets online to cross-learn from each other’s experiences.
Featuring experienced heads from the NBA, NFL, rugby and beyond, it was described by Eddie Jones, head coach of England’s rugby union team, as being “like Alcoholics Anonymous – we all go in and share our problems and everyone tells you what they think. It’s fantastic.”
Jones, a prickly character with a ruthless streak and a fondness for picking fights with the media, has since spoken of his fondness for Arteta (“a super bright young coach”) and his admiration of Arsenal’s quick starts to matches, something he’s keen for his England side to replicate in the upcoming Autumn internationals.
Ahead of Arsenal’s match with FC Zurich, Arteta was pressed for more information about how he got involved.
“I was invited. I didn’t expect it and when I looked at the group and who was involved, I was extremely surprised because it’s people with so much experience, knowledge and different backgrounds.
“It’s fascinating, I really enjoy it, it’s really challenging, it’s inspiring and it helps us to think out of the box and to meet people that have been through incredible experiences.
“They are very willing to share everything that they do because it’s not a competition, it’s a different sport. That brings a different dimension at the level that you can share things.”
While he was reticent to go into detail about any specific details he’s borrowed from Eddie Jones, he was glowing in his appraisal of the Australian-born coach.
“A lot of things but I don’t want to share them. Eddie…his detail, his approach to everything, how he wants to gain advantages and get information from everybody, how meticulous he is, how competitive he is, it’s incredible, especially with the trajectory that he had, the experiences he had to adapt to other cultures, other environments, it’s just great to have people and connections like that in sport.”
Pressed further on what football can learn from rugby, he continued: “There are movements, there are patterns, things within the culture of a rugby team, the culture of a national team, how they have shifted from the way they used to coach 20 years ago and how they coach today and how that shift has come across, how they learn from experiences, how they learn about defeat, about coaching staff, how to build connections between departments and coaches, it’s a lot of things.”
All sounds very interesting. Here’s hoping the Arsenal boys aren’t forced to bond over pints of each other’s piss…we can’t be taking the egg-chasing stuff too far.