Arsenal have promoted Mikel Arteta from his role as head coach to a position of first-team manager, as the club come out in defence of their redundancies and subsequent squad investment this summer.
The north London side have moved to reward the Spaniard for the work he has conducted since returning to the Emirates as head coach in December, Arteta overseeing a challenging period and helping the Gunners to silverware with FA Cup success.
Amongst the most notable aspects of his arrival, however, has been a renewed togetherness amongst the squad with key figures such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka agreeing new deals in the belief that the club are once again heading in the right direction.
Arsenal chief executive, Vinai Venkatesham, has now revealed that Arteta will be handed significantly more power with a promotion to first-team manager, outlining the plans for the 38-year-old to work closely alongside technical director Edu to move the Gunners forward.
“Mikel’s been here since the end of December and the last nine months have probably been the most challenging nine months in Arsenal’s history – and we’ve been around for 134 years. Despite all of those challenges, Mikel has been driving this football club forward,” Venkatesham told the official Arsenal website.
“He has lifted the spirits and lifted the energy here at London Colney and with Arsenal fans all across the world. He is doing an absolutely phenomenal job.
Confirmed by Arsenal – Mikel Arteta becomes club's first-team manager.
Restructuring means head coach role no longer exists.
Essentially a promotion for Arteta. #AFC
— Mark Mann-Bryans (@MarkyMBryans) September 10, 2020
“The other thing that’s clear is that right from the day he walked through the door, he was doing much more than being our head coach. So we’re going to be changing his job title going forward. He’ll move from head coach to be the first-team manager. That’s recognition of what he’s been doing from the day he walked in the door, but also where we see his capabilities.
“He is doing a great job of coaching the first team and that’s his primary responsibility, but there is so much more that he can bring and that’s why we’re making this change, in recognition of his capabilities and also the job that he’s doing already.
“So in terms of how that will work, going forward Mikel will join a really strong team with Edu and they’ll be working really, really closely together to manage all the other elements of our football operations that are so important, whether that is analysis, recruitment, high performance or medical, they’ll be looking after those areas together.
“And they’ll also together be responsible for our technical recommendations, whether that’s players that we’re going to buy, whether that’s players that we’re going to sell, whether that’s players that we’re going to loan.
“Of course, working closely with me and the board and working closely with the owners on the financial elements to make final decisions. But those are going to be their responsibilities and I think we’re going to have a really dynamic team to drive this club forward.”
Venkatesham also defended Arsenal’s controversial decisison to make 55 staff redundant earlier this summer, the club cutting staff amid the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis before proceeding to invest in the squad with the signings of Cedric, Pablo Mari, Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes.
The announcements also came after a pay cut was agreed with the majority of the first-team squad, though Venkatesham insists investment is essential to ensuring the ‘long term health’ of the club in the same way as any other organisation.
“We need to make sure that we are looking after the long term health of this football club and, like any organisation, that means that you need to invest,” said Venkatesham.
“If you work for an airline then you need to buy new planes. If you are working at a restaurant you need to invest in the restaurant. Here, we need to invest in the team and that is what we are doing.”
Arsenal get the 2020/21 Premier League campaign underway with an away tie against newly-promoted Fulham on Saturday lunchtime.