Strictly speaking Arsenal have given Mikel Arteta a promotion. It is just that he has been doing this new job since the first minute he walked back into the Emirates Stadium.
Ahead of the new season Arsenal have confirmed that Arteta is no longer just their head coach but their first team manager. That, along with Vinai Venkatesham’s move to chief executive, is something the club hope will put a full stop on a period of transition that dates back to before Arsene Wenger’s departure.
Arteta arrived determined to improve more than just his playing staff, to have a hand in the cultural revival of Arsenal as an organisation. Its success is already apparent on the pitch with the FA Cup win and a change in mentality. The likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea have already been defeated by a team that, in their managers’ words, enjoys suffering together.
If Raul Sanllehi’s departure as head of football informally increased Arteta’s powerbase, today’s announcement formalises that. He is more than just the man that picks the team and it is notable that he has the same job title that Wenger held during his 22 year reign.
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“He hasn’t been a head coach from the very first day he walked in the door,” Venkatesham said of Arteta. “He has been doing much more than that. So we are going to change his job to first team manager and that is really a recognition of what he has been doing from the day he walked in the door and also the capabilities that we believe Mikel has.
“He has walked into probably the toughest nine month period this football club has had in it’s 134 year history. I say probably, but I checked with Mr [Ken] Friar and he has been here for 70 of those years and he says it is the toughest period the club has ever had so, take it from him if you don’t want to take it from me.
“During that period Mikel has…