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Why Arteta’s superb man management skills are changing the club’s previously damaged culture

By Allan Riley

When you look at the best managers in the world, there is usually one area in which they truly excel in. For Pep Guardiola it’s his tactical ingenuity, Jurgen Klopp’s ability to maximise the level of performance from players who appeared incapable of producing such levels and Jose Mourinho is his ability to build a siege mentality around a club.

For Mikel Arteta, however, one key area stands out. His man-management ability. When speaking to The Kick Off recently, Kieran Dyer said that in modern football, good man-management is absolutely key in order to succeed as a coach. It seems that Arteta has taken this in mind and ran with it.

Since his appointment in December, Arteta has seemingly united a club that was becoming more and more disillusioned with every loss under Unai Emery. Upon his arrival, Arteta made sure to go around to every non-playing member of Arsenal staff and personally introduce himself. This has allowed the Spaniard to improve the atmosphere at London Colney.

Arteta has also managed to have a profound effect on the players. For example, Granit Xhaka seemed on the verge of leaving the club after his meltdown against Crystal Palace under Unai Emery. Under the former Manchester City assistant, however, the Swiss international was convinced to stay at the club. Not just that, Xhaka has now become an integral part of the way Arsenal play; a far cry from his form at the start of the campaign.

Upon Arsenal’s triumph against Liverpool in the Community Shield, Kieran Tierney said; “Coming into games like this we're starting to believe more and more and I think that's what it's all about, belief and spirit. Mikel drilled that into us since day 1, defensive organisation and the transition. It's not by luck and it's not by chance. It's by hard work."

Arteta has turned around the mentality at Arsenal. He’s cultivated a winning culture within 9 months. Towards the latter days of Emery, as well as under Freddie Ljungberg, the players looked frustrated and uninterested. Under our new head coach, this atmosphere been completely transformed into something where everyone is totally committed to the cause, and is all fighting for one and other.

Arteta hasn’t revolutionised Arsenal’s culture by himself, however. Steve Round has joined the Spaniard’s backroom staff, tasked with helping change the culture at the club. This combination of Round and Arteta has worked wonders at Arsenal, with the players at Arsenal looking more energetic and enthusiastic, which has led to a dramatic upturn in performances on the pitch.

As many positives Arteta’s man-management has, there are also some drawbacks. The ostracization of Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi from the Arsenal squad- the former in particular- may have impacted the team. However, Arteta does seem to be disciplining Guendouzi after his misdemeanours in Dubai, even saying that he is open to the idea of bringing the young Frenchman back into the fold (whether or not this is a bargaining tool to drive the price up we’ll wait and see.

However, for every one of these situations, you can point to someone like Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, who seems like he is close to signing a new contract when it looked likely that he was going to leave under Emery. Arteta also managed to convince the players to take a 12.5% pay cut due to the coronavirus pandemic, when other club officials couldn’t.

This proves that Arteta is very adept when it comes to his man-management. He seems to have an older brother aura, something Jose Mourinho had in the very successful early stages of his managerial career. Arteta is 37, if he can keep this blend of positivity and honesty at Arsenal, then he’s already halfway there in his journey to becoming an elite manager.

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