Champions League

Arsenal’s indecision on Arteta could set club back years

Arsenal responded to their disappointing Europa League exit with a victory over West Brom at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, the biggest talking point to emerge from the weekend was not related to the 3-1 win.

No prizes for guessing Mikel Arteta’s future has been the hot topic. With the Gunners struggling in mid-table, some fans hoped they’d wake up to the news on Friday morning that the 39-year-old had been sacked after their European exit. But it seems club owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment are willing to give him a little while longer to prove himself.

Reports say that the prospect of a campaign without European football for the first time in a quarter of a century has prompted the club’s ownership to promise ‘significant’ investment ahead of the summer transfer window, and that they’re willing to give the Spaniard the first few games of the 2021/22 season to prove himself. Why?

Throughout KSE’s involvement with the north London club, they’ve been heavily criticised for a number of issues – none more so than failure to sufficiently invest in the team. However, it’s not that Arsenal haven’t spent money, it’s that they’ve spent it badly. And so to back a manager whom they’re seemingly not sure about only to sack him a few weeks down the line next season has the potential to set them back even further.

Arteta’s first full season in charge, whichever way you dress it up, has been a disaster. They’ve lost 13 league games and the campaign isn’t even over yet, they were dumped out of Europe by Unai Emery and failed to put up a respectable defence of the FA Cup.

One of the few things you can give the manager credit for is the ruthlessness he’s shown when moving to clear out the ‘dead wood’ in the squad. Arteta was instrumental in the termination of Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis’ contracts.

Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi
At least these two aren’t around anymore | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

His job has undoubtedly been more difficult due to having to deal with issues regarding an oversized squad, and finding solutions to get fringe players off of the wage bill has proven tough. Unfortunately, trimming down the squad has been necessary in order to free up budget and space within the group for those he plans to recruit.

Even if KSE were to break the bank this summer – don’t hold your breath – if Arteta fails to deliver the desired results and is shown the door early next season, surely that would just create the same issue for whoever replaces him?

Fundamental mismanagement has finally caught up with Arsenal and for those under a certain age, this is an all-time low point supporting the club.

Mikel Arteta
Arteta should be under more immediate pressure | Pool/Getty Images

Competent owners (or ‘football people’) would assess Arteta’s first full season in charge and make a decision on whether he’s the right man to take the club forward. Delaying the call has the potential to do further damage from both a sporting and financial perspective. To invest significantly in somebody only to sack them a few weeks into the new season would be irresponsible, and KSE would be simply kicking the can down the road.

Their fear or reluctance to make tough decisions is what has led to this situation in the first place – further highlighting their clear incompetence. Mistakes are forgivable but to repeat errors of seasons gone by and expect different results is pure stupidity.

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