Edu backs Mikel Arteta and predicts 'beautiful future' under manager

This article is more than 1 month old
  • Technical director calls for patience after ‘challenging’ year
  • Defeat to Burnley ensured worst start to season since 1974-75
Arsenal’s technical director Edu (left) has backed Mikel Arteta despite the team’s poor start to the season.
Arsenal’s technical director Edu (left) has backed Mikel Arteta despite the team’s poor start to the season. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside via Getty Images
Arsenal’s technical director Edu (left) has backed Mikel Arteta despite the team’s poor start to the season. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside via Getty Images

First published on Mon 14 Dec 2020 08.21 EST

The Arsenal technical director, Edu, has rejected any suggestion Mikel Arteta’s job is under threat and believes the club will have a “beautiful future” under their embattled manager.

Arsenal are 15th in the Premier League and Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat by Burnley confirmed their worst start to a season since 1974, leading to speculation Arteta may be sacked a year after his appointment. Edu is convinced the manager deserves patience after a turbulent 12 months and says Arsenal must revert to being “a stable club in the old sense” rather than repeatedly hiring and firing.

“Mikel is doing a great job, he’s doing really well here,” Edu said. “If we’re not talking about patience with Mikel. It would be very unfair to him because what a year we have faced: three months without football matches, a lot of things changing in the club. He started, stopped, and when he started to get an understanding of all the squad he stopped again. It would be really unfair to Mikel to say something about that because the year was so challenging for everyone, but even more for Mikel, who had just arrived at the club.”

Edu was speaking with journalists on Monday afternoon in a Zoom call arranged before Burnley’s 1-0 win at the Emirates. He urged those assessing Arteta’s work “not to be driven by results” and said his rebuilding efforts behind the scenes would bear fruit.

“If we start to see problems internally – if the players don’t believe anymore, if the staff isn’t good enough – then I will say ‘Hmm, I’m a bit worried’,” he said. “But it’s such an unfair situation right now because the way I see things every day, everything’s right. It’s strange to say that because the results are not coming but I see properly the way Mikel is working.

“ I want people to understand what we are doing. We are in the process to have a beautiful future.”

Edu returned to Arsenal in July 2019, five months before Arteta was recruited, having previously played for the club. The departure of Raul Sanllehi, their head of football, in August has given him extra power. It was put to him that if Arteta is under pressure then he must be too, given the need to overhaul a bloated squad that contains several expensive names associated with past failures.

“It is not about Edu or Mikel, it is about stability,” he said. “Now is the time to try to be a stable club in the old sense. Externally and internally, we need that. Since we arrived here we have been changing, changing, changing: now it’s time to be stable and together at the same time.”

Arsenal will look to strengthen in January but Edu played down any notion of cavalry arriving to save their campaign, suggesting internal solutions may have to be found.

“Why do people have to expect a magician to go ‘Boom! Come here, Messi’?”, he said. “No, it depends on us. We will try to do something but, listen, we have the responsibility to change it. Don’t wait for someone outside to come inside and be a magician because that’s not going to happen.

“If you can sign 20 players, which we’re not going to do, that’s not going to work anyway. So the main thing for me is that we, as a club, have to understand our problem.”

Arteta also received support from Pep Guardiola, who he assisted at Manchester City before leaving to take over at Arsenal. “When a club comes from a not good period, sometimes it needs time,” Guardiola said. “I will not have any doubts about his quality and capacity to put Arsenal in the place Arsenal deserve to be.”