It was their former captain Mikel Arteta they turned to when Arsenal sought a new manager to revive their season in December, following the departure of Unai Emery. The one-time midfielder has been given the task of leading one of the world’s leading clubs in his first managerial position, and in many ways is perhaps fortunate that he was not appointed when he was first considered in the summer of 2018, when Arsène Wenger, the most successful manager in Arsenal’s fine history, had left after almost 22 years.
If the Spaniard remains inexperienced and has inherited a squad that requires rejuvenating, in Wenger he spent five years working under one of the finest managers of the modern era and who succeeded having been appointed in similar circumstances. He also spent over three years working as a coach under another, in Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, and in the knowledge that a once-inexperienced Guardiola’s first senior managerial position – at Barcelona – was a remarkable success.
Arteta, incidentally, is perhaps familiar with unenviable circumstances. When he arrived from Everton as a player in 2011 for £10m, he did so shortly before the summer transfer window closed and after the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, but swiftly settled and surpassed expectations. “There is a lot of work to be done but I am confident we’ll do it,” he said, upon his appointment. “I’m realistic enough to know it won’t happen overnight, but the squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy.”