Mikel Arteta was asked about his Arsenal future, less than a year after taking charge of the Gunners, and his response wasn’t what you would expect.
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Arsenal lost 2-1 at home to Wolves on Sunday, which marked their third-straight home defeat at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.
Speaking to reporters after the latest setback, Arteta was somber when assessing his future as Arsenal sit in 14th place in the table and are eight points off league leaders Tottenham.
“The day I decided to be a coach I knew that one day I will be sacked or leave the football club,” Mikel Arteta said. “My only concern is to get the best out of the players and give the best possible service to the club.”
Arteta is a bit of a somber, serious soul at the best of times, so perhaps these comments are a little over the top.
However, if you read between the lines this seems like Arteta is saying to the board ‘look, I’ve gone as far as I can with this squad. We need this overhaul. Are you going to back me?’
It would make sense for Arsenal to do that, as Arteta has made plenty of progress during his first 11 months in charge but there’s still a long, long way to go.
What can Mikel Arteta change?
Usually it is cheaper for clubs to oust a manager than moving on several star players who have lengthy, and expensive, contracts. That is the way it works. But Arteta has done enough in his first year in charge to prove he is worth backing with an FA Cup win, success against big teams and progress in key areas.
Arsenal have shored things up defensively, especially against the big boys when they can sit back and launch counter attacks, but that has led to them losing their attacking flair and creativity. Arteta needs to loosen the reins and allow the Gunners to become a more balanced, adventurous side.
After bringing in Willian, Thomas Partey and Gabriel this summer, plus Pablo Mari, Cedric and then Dani Ceballos on another season-long loan, he’s been backed but this is a long-term rebuild.
The big issue that Arteta has (and Unai Emery had before him) is a squad of players who have been at the club for a very long time and have no intention of moving on.
What is the priority?
Arteta has brought in a new gritty style at Arsenal but these poor performances cannot be overlooked and the former Arsenal captain knows that ultimately this is a results business.
As much as he is liked by the Arsenal players, fans and directors, the team has to win on the pitch. It really is that simple.
Winning games, not a playing style or mentality, is the first thing Arteta has to focus on. The rest can come in time.
Next up in the Premier League: a trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in the north London derby.