By Alphonsus Effi
Mikel Arteta Amatriain a Spanish footballer was born on the 26th of March, 1982 in a town called SEBASTIAN in Spain from a very humble parentage in Bosque Country.
Arteta began his football career at a town called Antiguoko where he met fellow famous mid-fielder Xabi Alonso as they played together every weekend along the gutters and beaches of San Sebastian and dreamed of playing together at REAL SOCIEDAD. However, at age 15, Arteta decided to play with Barcelona’s B team while Xavi Alonso signed for REAL SOCIEDAD. At Barcelona F.C, Arteta could not make it to this first team despite his potentials and was as a result sent on loan to PSG the famous French side (Paris Saint Germain) in December, 2002. Here, he was used as a playmaker, where he excelled and was almost bought but preferred to continue his football journey with Rangers F.C of Scotland.
Rangers F.C of Scotland signed Arteta for the sum of Six Million Naira in March 2002 transfer deal. He enjoyed a very successful first season in Glasgow and readily established himself as a first team regular player. He was pivotal in the winning of trophies and laurels; especially that domestic trebles of the Scottish Premier League Title, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.
His second and final season in Scotland with Rangers was extremely marvelous, where he scored six goals in the first six games of the season, enabling the club to qualify for Champions League group stages. Though, they did not qualify from the group-stage. The fantastic experience made him to return to Spain, where he commended his Scottish experience to had helped him develop as a football player. Acclaiming that Scottish Football was tough, really tough. It was physical people get at you and I had to improve on that a lot. I think I did that to get to the level that the Premier League required of me”.
Though his time in Spain was short-lived because hoping to key-in with Xabi Alonso his friend did not materialise at San Sebastine; REAL SOCIEDAD but Alonso left for England’s LIVERPOOL. Hence he allegedly played alone and failed to establish himself in the team.
In the year January 2005 transfer window, David Moyes, the present West Ham coach signed Arteta on loan with a view to a permanent transfer. Arteta played a vital part in helping EVERTON achieve the possibility of qualifying for the Champions League which they finished 4th in the Premier League. He scored his first EVERTON goal in a 4-0 victory over CRYSTAL PALACE. Thus, acting as a catalyst in signing a permanent five year contract in July, 2005 for a fee of Two Million pounds. Arteta started making success in British Football’s Premier League where he picked up both the “EVERTON’s” player of the year and Player’s Player of the season awards simultaneously. Likewise retaining his starting place, he continuously turned in man of the match displays and finished the season with Nine-goals from 35 League games and voted Premier League’s “Midfielder” of the year” by the viewers of Sky Sports, beating PFA Player for The Year, Christiano Ronaldo.
Arteta added more accolades to his growing collection during the 2007-2008 seasons. Here he picked up the NORTH WEST Footballer of the year award. Thus, becoming the first EVERTON Player in five years to receive the LIVERPOOL ECHO’s Sports Personality of the year award in January, 2008.
Mikel Arteta’s football sojourn did not end at Everton but continued his tasking and interesting journeys to the great Arsenal Football club of England, then coached by the famous French “Sweat Merchant” ARSENE WENGER. He signed with Arsenal on 31st August, 2011 on a Four year deal for a reported fee of Ten Million Dollars. He made his debut on 10th September, 2011 in a 1-0 home win against SWANSEA CITY and scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal in a 4-3 loss against BLACKBURN ROVERS at Ewood Park. He got his first chance to Captain Arsenal in the third round FA Cup victory over LEEDS United, a game that marked the second debut of THIERY HENRY. With the departure of ROBIN VAN PERSIE, Arteta was made the Vice-captain of Arsenal F.C for the 2012-2013 seasons. He was voted by fans as the fourth best player of the 2012-2013 campaign. In Arsenal player of the season poll, after leading the team to their 17th consecutive top four finish in the Barclay’s Premier League.
He became Arsenal’s new club captain ahead of the 2014-2015 seasons. He won his first trophy as full time captain, playing the full 90 minutes as Arsenal beat MANCHESTER CITY 3-0 in the 2014 F.A Community Shield laurel.
His first game for the club, came on the last day of the season, which was quite remarkable, where Arteta came on as a Substitute and forced Aston Villa’s Goalkeeper MARK BUNN into scoring an own goal after his shot went off the Crossbar. At full time, he received a standing ovation from the crowd as a mark of respect and recognition to a disciplined and dedicated talent to a highly recognised superficial international Football Club of great repute, with talents.
While appointed, he stated that he believed the club had lost direction that he didn’t’ want players to shirk responsibility “I want people to take responsibility for their jobs and I want people who deliver passion and energy in the football club. “Anyone who doesn’t buy into this or that has a negative effect or whatever is not good for this environment or culture.
It is pertinent to note at this juncture, that most pundits were not happy with the appointment of Arteta as Arsenal’s coach because he was regarded as too in-experienced to handle a team like Arsenal football club. He was regarded as a green-horn in the “sweet merchant” business to take Arsenal to loftier heights in the game.
Amidst all these talented efforts in his footballing days, this great footballer was attracted into the coaching profession after retirement. Likewise, he had three options after retirement, firstly to lead the Arsenal academy, by Arsene Wenger, secondly, to join Pochettino (his team mate at PSG) backroom staff and lastly to join Pep. Guardiola’s coaching staff at Manchester City.
He eventually joined the coaching staff team of Guardiola at Manchester City. It was with Guardiola, that he had his practical experience in the business of coaching. It was at Manchester City, assisting Pep. Guardiola that he was contracted by Arsenal management to coach the (). This was on the 20th December 2019, he was appointed manager after signing a deal until 2023.
Invariably, majority favoured the appointment of Maximillano Allegri, former Juventus coach, already in the market, Carlos Ancelloti famous championship winning coach with numerous to P-clubs, who was also in the market then, as well as Pochetino of Tottenham Hotspur, who were preferable candidates for the Arsenal F.C job, at that initial time. Conversely, the Arsenal F.C management preferred former retired captain, to saddle them to glory. On 26th December, 2019 Arteta walked out of the dug-out for the first time as an Arsenal F.C manager for their Premier League match against F.C Bournmouth which scored 1-1 draw a piece. Thanks to a second half equaliser for the Gabonese captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
Nevertheless, a 1-1 draw was not a better start, the Spaniard would have dreamed of, he later pronounced that he was pleased with the attitude, passion and fighting spriit of his players. On January 1st 2020, Arteta won his first match as Arsenal manager, after a 2-0 goal margin against Manchester United at the EMIRATES STADIUM likewise, on Saturday 18th July, 2020, Arsenal beat Arteta’s Former employer Manchester City 2-0 in the F.A cup semi-final with goals from Pierre-Emerrick Aubameyang, culminating in Arsenal reaching the F.A cup final on four occasion in seven years, significantly as Arteta’s first, as a manager.
Regardless of the feat, MIKEL ARTETA is still regarded by most pundits as officially recording the worst records after his first 19 League games than the club’s last four bosses, including flop UNAI EMERY.
The Gunners fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at relegation bound Aston Villa lately. The defeat proves that Arteta has now picked-up just 30 points from his first 19 games, with Arsenal down in tenth position at the league. Thus, he has just won eight of those 19 games, drawing six and loosing five in all. This not-with-standing, his job was still not threatened at the Emirates unlike his predecessor Umain Emery, who throughout the first half season of his tenure, amassed a reasonable 11 wins and just three defeats and a total 38 points.
Even Emery’s predecessors like Arsene Wenger and Bruce Rioch both performed better than Arteta, earning 33 points in their first 19 games.
The defeat at Villa Park, saw Arteta lead Arsenal F.C to a third straight season loosing ten premier league games. It’s the first time the Gunners have struggled since the turbulent seasons in the 1990’s, where they performed below expectation between 1981-1982 and 1987-1988.
Consequently, despite these travails Arsenal under Arteta are still trading and ending the season on 8th position down the log, in a group of 20 team contesting the premiership.
Though did not qualify for any of the European Championships as a result, but being a green-horn in the managerial business at the Premiership, especially, starting with a top club like Arsenal F.C, its worthy to enthuse that the future is bright for the young manager to attain loftier height with this great club, especially if winning the F.A cup later in the year (1st August) to be precise and put the great Gunners back into a position of reckoning in the great footballing community/culture of England and the world in general.