Arsenal fans have reacted with delight at the appointment of Mikel Arteta as the new head coach after he penned a contract to switch to the Gunners from being the assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Arteta, a former favourite of supporters from his stint as a hard-working and creative midfield player under Arsene Wenger (he played 150 times after signing from Everton in 2011), sealed the deal to switch from the Etihad Stadium to the Emirates Stadium yesterday afternoon. The confirmation followed two weeks’ off intense speculation that he would indeed be offered — and accept — the role after Spanish coach Unai Emery was axed.
Emery bit the dust after a dismal run of form for the Gunners under his stewardship and former attacker Freddie Ljungberg was made interim head coach. But he oversaw just one win in four matches in charge — as well as two draws — and wasn’t seen as experienced enough at the top level to take the team forward and arrest the alarming weakness and general malaise running through the club.
Now, though, Arteta, who is aged 37, is the new boss after signing a three-and-a-half-year deal. And he said of his appointment:
“It is a huge honour. Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in the world. We need to be competing for the top trophies in the game and that’s been made very clear to me in my discussions with Stan and Josh Kroenke, and the senior people from the club.”
The fans, too, are happy at his arrival. Chris Adsett, a season ticket holder at the club for 21 years, said:
“He must have something about him to be employed by Pep at Manchester City with the responsibility of being the No.2 in charge. Added to that, of course, he has the benefit of knowing the club and its traditions and values. I am keen to see how well he does, and remain hopeful that he can help turn things around for us this season and then start again in the summer to build something special.”
Meanwhile, lifelong supporter Kevin Welling says Arteta’s first task is to sort out the defence, which has been woeful at times during the course of this campaign. He said:
“I don’t think that anyone can doubt that we have gifted players going forward and have goals in the team. But at the other end of the pitch, apart from the keeper Leno, the back line has been dreadful. Passing out from the back just doesn’t suit the personnel we have at our disposal. If Arteta can get that right then we may have chance of resurrecting the season and trying to get in the top four. It’s a big ask but who knows?”