LONDON — Arsenal hired Mikel Arteta as manager on Friday, hoping its former midfielder can turn around the fortunes of the ailing London club after spending more than three years learning the coaching ropes as assistant to Pep Guardiola at English champion Manchester City.
Arteta signed a 3 1/2-year contract as the full-time replacement for Unai Emery, who was fired three weeks ago.
Arteta was persuaded to leave his role at City despite potentially being in line to be the natural successor to Guardiola.
“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.”
The Spaniard retired in 2016 after spending the last five years of his playing career at Arsenal. He returns to Emirates Stadium with Arsenal having regressed, no longer in the Champions League or a challenger in the Premier League.
“We all know there is a lot of work to be done to achieve that but I am confident we’ll do it,” Arteta said. “I’m realistic enough to know it won’t happen overnight but the current squad has plenty of talent and there is a great pipeline of young players coming through from the academy.”
Arsenal is languishing in 10th place in the league, as close to the relegation zone as it is to the top four.
Arteta was close to taking charge of Arsenal after the departure of long-time manager Arsene Wenger in the off-season of 2018. Emery got the job, however, but couldn’t revive the team and left it in something of a mess when he was let go last month.
“I want to do things my way by convincing them it is the right way for everybody to live better,” Arteta said. “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.”
Head of football Raul Sanllehi said the club interviewed other names before opting to pursue Arteta.
“We met several top-class candidates and Mikel stood out to every single one of us as the perfect person for us,” Sanllehi said. “Mikel understands and what it means to our fans around the world. We look forward to him getting down to work and bringing the best out of our squad as we work to get our season back on track.”
Arteta takes over a side that is porous in defence and has a lack of quality or leadership in midfield. The team is in its worst shape since the mid-1990s, before Wenger was in charge.
“Mikel Arteta has certainly a great future, he has learned a lot in his first experience, in his first position as an assistant coach,” Wenger said this week. “He will have to deal with the fact he has no experience at that level, and he will have to get surrounded well and have a good environment at the club.”