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With Arteta, Arsenal connected to the DNA of the club in such a way that it also returned to the European elite

The book about Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal shows how the Spanish manager lifted the Londoners back to the top clubs.

“Dad, thank you for taking me to Highbury for the first time on 21st January 1989, that was the day I started a passion for the club that will last me until the last day of my life.”

This is written by Charles Watts, the author of Arteta’s Gunners – The True Story of Arsenal’s Incredible Transformation in Hungarian in December 2023 (translated by Tibor Bán) of the volume published courtesy of G-ADAM Publishing in his thanksgiving.

Two things occurred to the author of the article about the above quote. It’s cool to have the same name as the former brilliant drummer of The Rolling Stones. And it’s great to see Nick Hornby’s Football fever come to life in Watts’ commitment to Arsenal.

The book shows how Mikel Arteta renewed Arsenal since his appointment in December 2019, first as a head coach, then as a manager, how he re-identified the club with his bosses, raised it to a higher dimension and made it competitive after the terrible period of Unai Emery.

As a lead-up to this, we get an insight into Arteta’s playing career. The Spaniard was Arsene Wenger’s key player at the time, his professionalism and other good qualities predestined him to become a (good) coach.

Mikel spent almost three years in Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff at Manchester City (see the Premier Leak podcast, in which Arteta is often referred to as the hairy Pep), before Emery’s assignment he seemed to be a candidate to succeed the legendary Wenger, but the leaders of the Londoners at that time did not choose him. but his compatriot (making a bad decision).

We can read about Arteta’s approach to coaching, which is based on humility, honesty, responsibility, respect and passion. The focus is mostly on his community-creating power, with which he managed to get his players and fans to believe in him and in him in a short period of time.

“He is the man who created a structure,” said Emi Martinez, Arsenal’s goalkeeper at the time, who has since strengthened Aston Villa and was the strength of the Argentine national team that won the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

One of Arsenal’s biggest assets, Bukayo Saka and Arteta

Photo: AFP

We can also get to know the circumstances of the signings that worked, to put it mildly (Gabriel, William Saliba, Martin Ødegaard, Ben White) and those that were terribly successful (Willian, Nicolas Pépé), the crises (poor results, the ordeal of Mesut Özil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Granit Xhaka ), the changes in management and the bad decisions they made (layoffs, deals with players’ agents) are also important parts of the book.

As one of the main virtues of the Spanish manager, who is a fan of Rafael Nadal, Watts credits the fact that he voted for young people (Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli) who have already become the team’s key players.

The good cooperation between Arteta and the technical manager and then sporting director Edu steered Arsenal in a new direction, which started on the right path. When the team struggled in terms of results, the leaders stood by the Basque boss according to the motto “trust the process!”. Even in the roller-coaster-like 2020/2021 season, signs of stability were visible.

They were all thinking of a long-term project, Arteta had to take several steps, until over time he would have shaped Arsenal in his own image. He wasn’t afraid of the big decisions (omitting Özil and Aubameyang), with which he stayed true to himself.

Martin Ødegaard, Arsenal’s mastermind

Photo: AFP

We can read about why Mykhaylo Mudryk did not become an Arsenal player (the club did not want to buy him above the price) and that Leandro Trossard landed in London as the Ukrainian’s B-option. Regarding the Italian Jorginho, who was signed instead of Moisés Caicedo, the author aptly notes that “the Italian was not considered the sexiest signing, but his acquisition seemed like a smart move”.

He got the fans on his side, based on the clean-ups and the picture shown, there was a good atmosphere again at the club, encouraging processes started at Arsenal (which we can see especially in the previous and current seasons in terms of the game shown and results), the Wengerist Spanish tried to capitalize to forge from this.

We can also follow last year’s championship run with Manchester City (which can be read on the other side from Bence Vályi’s excellent book), and we can conclude that Arsenal’s three draws in the three rounds before the rally against City (Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton ) caused the championship to slip away.

After the fifth place two years ago, this time Arsenal ran in the second position, collecting 15 points more than before. He won 26 championships, scored 84 points and 88 goals, ahead of Liverpool by 17 points, Spurs by 24, and Chelsea by 40.

William Saliba has quickly become one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League

Photo: AFP

After several years of failure, the club found its way back to the elite, several potentially world-class young footballers (Saka, Saliba, Declan Rice) carry the team on their backs. After a seven-year absence, Arsenal returned to the Champions League, reaching the quarter-finals in 2024.

Insider Charles Watts gives an enjoyable look at how Mikel Arteta has achieved it all in such a short space of time.

“I think that relationship is the right word. I would say that. The relationships within the team and the whole club worked, the people working in different areas also built a great relationship with each other. In addition, I think that the relationship between the fans and the team was excellent, the with the club, with the owners and with the whole world. We managed to connect with the DNA of the club, with our values, with our style. We have to move forward in the same way,” said Arteta at the last press conference of the 2022/2023 season.

His sentences apply almost word for word to the current season, during which Arsenal is again fighting for the first place in the Premier League, which could win the league title for the first time since 2004, after 20 years. Even if it doesn’t work out now, it is coded in Mikel Arteta’s work that it might happen sooner or later.

Mikel Arteta steered Arsenal back to winning ways

Photo: AFP

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