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  • Arteta the rookie.

    I couldn’t find any rookie managers among the Premier League managers last season, except Arteta. It is a risk no-one seems to want to take. Particularly someone who comes from outside as Arteta did. Yes, he had Arsenal DNA but often the only way a rookie gets a chance is if they are at the club as a player or coach and they try them as interim managers. That rarely works out, though. Liverpool being an exception as Bob Paisley, their most successful manager, was appointed when Bill Shankly resigned and Paisley was first-team coach. They also employed Kenny Dalglish as player-manager who did very well, and Roy Evans who did ok.


    Would you hire this young boy?

    But, in general, top teams don’t appoint rookies. Arsenal, in the past, had great success with rookies, George Allison, Bertie Mee, and Tom Whittaker spring to mind but Pat Rice and Freddie Ljungberg are examples of promoting from within that didn’t work out. It is an enormous risk that owners don’t wish to contemplate.

    The Kroenkes were key

    Arteta essentially took over from Unai Emery who failed to win over the fans. But for sure he was a top manager and continues to prove that. His weakness seems to be also Arteta’s, dealing with egotistical superstars, but it seems most likely that if he had been given his chance, he would have turned things around, probably by getting rid of the big egos.


    Stan and Josh - the dynamic duo?

    But I feel it was the Kroenkes who made the difference. When Arteta came for his first interview, it seems he impressed them, and they felt they could work with him to create something special. But even they couldn’t stretch to a rookie. They weren’t popular at Arsenal and Emery was a proven candidate. I believe they had this nagging feeling that they had got it wrong, this young man with the ideas, the knowledge, the Arsenal DNA, and above all the feeling that this was the guy, which made them feel like I sometimes have when I bought something expensive – I bought the wrong brand or model. So Emery’s collapse to Chelsea in the Europa League final gave them a chance to correct their mistake and bring in Arteta, their man.

    A big mess at other teams

    I have had misgivings over the Kroenkes but I think I was wrong. They know sport, and they know big business as it relates to sport, something that most big businessmen don’t. Look at the current mess at Chelsea, Man Utd and Everton, all with lots of trophies in their showrooms. The Kroenkes have been loyal to Arteta and have provided him with what he needs to bring the club back to the top. Josh seems to be there most of the time and from everything I know, he trusts Arteta’s decisions.


    Farhad Moshiri didn't have  a clue at Everton

    Getting rid of our captain and superstar Aubameyang and moving on Ozil were hard calls and yes, exposed a weakness in Arteta. Ozil, in particular, was not known to be difficult to deal with. But it allowed Arteta to do things his way, with young players ready to listen and improve. The seasoned pros brought in since have not been a problem. Jorginho, Havertz, Trossard, Raya, Rice and others have bought into the Arteta way and the camp seems happy.

    The plan is working

    Of course, now, one cannot really refer to Arteta as a rookie. He has garnered a respect throughout football as a top manager which means even top pros will listen to him. Two tight second place finishes in a row against the behemoths of Man City, plus a quarterfinal in the Champions League means he has proven himself. There are only a small handful of jobs in football bigger than Arsenal so he has shot himself to the top at a top club in his first attempt. It has been a bumpy ride so far, with periods of Arteta out ringing around the Emirates, even this season. But the Kroenkes have always remained steadfast. They have a plan and Arteta is a huge part of that plan. I believe that they are using their knowledge to help by bringing in the right people, and keeping Arteta at the club is crucial to their plan.


    Roman Abramovich didn't like Mourinho's bus driving skills

    The most successful owner in recent times has been Roman Abramovich but he let Mourinho go when surely what he should have done is create a dynasty with him that could have lasted a long time. Abramovich’s problem was that he didn’t like Mourinho’s football. Parking the bus annoyed him.

    At all costs, win?

    This does not seem to be a problem at Arsenal. The football is exciting, swift, and full of deft touches. Progress keeps getting made. However, Arsenal do need to make the next step. Win things. Arteta has grown as a manager and the players have grown as players. Honestly, how many Arsenal fans would swop any of the present team for someone else? And yet, new players will be brought in. The challenge is to get them to fit in quickly and to be sure they are better than what we have. City do it every season and make that aspect look easy. It isn’t. Arteta will be expected to do it. And Edu and the Kroenkes will play a massive part in identifying and being willing to pay for these players.


    Klopp was burnt out?

    Win we must, though. Klopp did not win that many trophies at Liverpool but enough to cement his legend as he chased a Man City whose resources seem endless. Now it is Arteta’s turn and he must at least equal Klopp. One league title and one Champions League were his highlights but it seems like Klopp burned himself out in that chase.

     The Kroenkes know what they are doing?

    This is where the Kroenkes can really make a difference. Support Arteta as he takes on Goliath. Take away any burdens they can. Honestly, if Arteta does burn out like Klopp, then who is out there? Not many candidates when one club is hoovering up all the trophies.

    The Kroenkes took on a rookie manager. If it had gone wrong, I am not sure they would have survived. But they got it right. The rookie manager lost the support of some top players. They got that right when they supported him. The rookie manager had many fans screaming Arteta out. They got that right when they said, no, he is in. The pundits were shrieking that Arsenal were bottlers, doing a Totteringham at the finish, but beating the Spuds and Man Utd away and Chelsea at home on the way to winning the last six matches shows that the Kroenkes got that right as well.


    Gary Neville - Arsenal are bottlers

    The Kroenke’s got it right in choosing a rookie, something that no top English side has done for a long time, particularly as they were unpopular, and they could have gone for a top name, a Conte or a Mourinho. Maybe it is time to revise our opinion of our Americans. Maybe they do know a little about running a football club after all. Recognising talent is surely a great asset? And recognising unproven talent has proven even better. I hope, but also believe, that great days are coming.


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