Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal’s underachieving stars that he will be “ruthless” as the new boss looks to restore a winning mentality to his troubled club.
Arteta, who had been working as an assistant to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, was hired by Arsenal on Friday after agreeing a three-and-a-half-year contract to replace the sacked Unai Emery.
The former Arsenal midfielder arrives at the Emirates Stadium to find a team in crisis following a wretched run that cost Emery his job and reaffirmed the sense the Gunners have lost their way since the final years of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League after a run of one win in 12 games in all competitions, Arsenal hope Arteta can steady the ship and eventually turn the north Londoners into contenders for a top four berth.
And Arteta, speaking at his official unveiling at the Emirates on Friday, made it clear he will take a hardline to ensure the malaise doesn’t continue any longer.
“I have to engage the players, when I was here with Man City (last week) everyone was a bit down,” Arteta told reporters.
“We have to have the right culture here, if we don’t then the tree will shake.
“After that we can talk about other things. We need an immediate impact and need to raise the level of the performances to start winning games and engage with the fans.
“The ambition of this football club is very clear. You have to fight for trophies and be in Europe. The rest is not good enough.”
Arteta has earned praise from Guardiola for the work he did with City’s players during their title-winning campaigns.
The Gunners boss is ready to put the lessons he learned from Guardiola into action, starting with a single-minded approach to installing his own philosophy at a club desperately lacking purpose and unity in recent years.
“What I have learned mostly is you have to be ruthless, consistent and fit the culture of the club to sustain a winning mentality,” Arteta said.
“Every act is important. Pep’s work-rate is incredible. The staff have to be able to transmit it and when the players buy into that, you can be strong.
– ‘Be responsible’ –
“I want to do things my way by convincing them it is the right way for everybody to live better.
“Everybody has to be responsible and I do not want them hiding, I want people who deliver passion and energy.
“Anyone who does not buy into this, has a negative effect, is not good enough for this environment and culture.”
The 37-year-old won the FA Cup twice in a five-year playing career with Arsenal, then joined City to work with Guardiola after retiring in 2016.
He revealed he came very close to taking the Arsenal job following Wenger’s departure in 2018, but conceded it was not the right time for him then, whereas now he has the knowledge to make a success of a difficult situation.
Given the huge problems lurking in Arsenal’s unbalanced and inconsistent squad, many fans wanted a more experienced boss to replace Emery.
Arteta is adamant he won’t be fazed by his first managerial role, saying: “I will give every drop of blood for this football club to make it better.
“I feel back home. I am extremely happy and proud to have been given the honour of being manager of this football club,” he said.
“I have prepared for the challenge and am ready. If I didn’t feel that, I would not be siting in this chair.”
Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League since 2004 and appear light years behind champions City and current leaders Liverpool.
One of the main issues facing Arteta is how to deal with German midfielder Mesut Ozil, who has endured testing times of late with Arsenal and is the subject of speculation over a January move.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal’s leading scorer, is also said to be unsettled by the team’s struggles and Arteta wants to get to know those two and the rest of the squad as soon as possible.
“I want to understand how they are feeling and what they need,” he said.
“Then I can take the excuses out of them and focus on the things which are relevant on and off the pitch. It is my job to get the best out of him (Ozil).”