Clumsy, at best.
When Mikel Arteta faced the press before the Chelsea game, some of his quotes left me appalled: in a very Mourinho-esque way, he did throw some of his players under the bus, questioning their attitude and overall qualities.
It doesn’t bode well.
It won’t sit well with the players.
I never liked managers who publicly blame the players because it underlines two main problems: a deep insecurity and no sense of accountability.
For a manager who frequently spoke about personal accountability as one of the non-negotiables, to be so blind to his own frailties and put so much blame on others is very dangerous.
I don’t question the truth in Mikel Arteta’s assessment because we all know that these players could and should have done better but a press conference is not the right place to clear this out.
It damages the club on so many levels, from its image to the sense of solidarity within the dressing room, and will surely have a big impact in the relationship that the manager has with those players and the squad in general.
Earlier this season, Mikel Arteta was prompt to condemn Nicolas Pépé’s foolish behaviour that had him dismissed against Leeds United, in a very public way, but failed to repeat the same when Granit Xhaka was sent off against Burnley for a pretty similar offence. These double standards undermine the manager’s position, players do not forget when they feel they’re not treated fairly.
You always wash your dirty clothes in house, no matter what happens, and Mikel Arteta failed to follow this very simple rule despite being in a very delicate position, now that the season is nearing the end: had he delivered excellent results or at least very positive performances, the consensus within the dressing room might have been enough for him to force his hand the way he did but he’s en route to be the first manager to not qualify the team for an European competition and is going to record a mid-table finish for successive seasons.
It’s no secret that he is under scrutiny and would have lost his job, in different circumstances, so Mikel Arteta doesn’t look like a man in the right position to lecture his players.
By saying that the majority of the players tried their best but not everyone did, he alienated some players and possibly the whole dressing room, because players know that they might get the same treatment, at some point; the trust could be irreparably damaged and the sacred space that is a dressing room has been violated by the very person who should shield everyone from external influences.
On top of that, Mikel Arteta questioned his players’ qualities and their ability to push forward, another clumsy move: we all see the limitations of some players, we can all see how their development is stalling but a ZOOM meeting is not the right place to point the finger at them.
I don’t see anything but desperation in Mikel Arteta’s awkward behavior, the feeling of a manager who is making up excuses for poor performances and even worse results.
It might well be a not very subtle strategy to knock on the Kroenkes’ door and get them to invest but, if it is the case, it screams desperation because it would mean that Mikel Arteta’s voice is not listened to.
A manager whose point of view is valued wouldn’t have to go public in the way Mikel Arteta did, in order to push the board to act.
I’m genuinely worried that Mikel Arterta is unable to handle the increasing pressure that the poor performances, disappointing results and off-the-field controversies are putting on his shoulders, in a similar way to Unai Emery during his final weeks. Mikel Arteta went all out with his finger-pointing and there is no way back from there, this has to be crystal-clear for the board and the Kroenkes.
We cannot afford to be hesitant, as a Club, and repeat the same errors that were made in the past, so the Club should be aware that a public feud between the players and the manager is destined to ruin next season, too. They either back Mikel Arteta fully and basically build a brand new squad for him or they show him the door now, before things get nasty as next season unfolds.
Back him or boot him, there’s no room and no time for a pointless compromise.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.