I was amused to see that if you scramble the letters of Mikel Arteta’s name you come up with: A TITLE MAKER.
Omens are not to be sniffed at, and if that anagram is a taste of what Miki is going to do for us I’ll grab it with both hands.
Mind you, for those who think we should have waited until he’d actually managed a team before snapping him up, there’s also an omen in his letters if you care to look for it: TAKE ‘IM LATER.
Enough of such nonsense.
It’s impossible not to feel encouraged and excited about the future now that we have a new man in charge.
Supporting a football team is a mixture of hope and despair and neither can exist without the other. We have been despairing of late, but now there’s a fresh start and – for a while at least – we can hope. It’s like that feeling you have on the morning of the first day of a new season: every fan of every club thinks that this could be their year.
So what about the man himself?
No doubt he has a big task ahead of him to turn around our fortunes, but it’s not the first time he’s arrived at the Emirates with the good ship Arsenal dangerously adrift and heading for the rocks.
He signed for us at the end of the summer transfer window in 2011 when we were all over the place and had just been hammered 8-2 at Old Trafford. Along with Per Mertesacker and Yossi Benayoun, who joined on the same day, he helped us find calmer waters.
When Arteta turned out for Arsenal he was an exemplary pro. He predominantly played as a deep-lying midfielder, the link-up man between defence and attack (forming an excellent partnership with the BFG). It was not his preferred position (he wanted to play further forward) but he never complained and did his job brilliantly.
The word that comes to mind to describe him is “precise.” Precise in his play, precise in his demeanour, very precise with his hair.
He’s had three and a half years learning from Pep Guardiola, the best club coach of the past 10 years. He’ll also have learnt plenty from Arsene Wenger and, let’s not forget, he experienced the famous Barcelona academy system as a youngster.
All this is encouraging, but the proof of this Christmas pudding will be in the eating. I don’t doubt Miki’s football knowledge and insight or his coaching credentials. But it will be his character and personality that will make the difference. Can he take that most difficult step from being a good number two to being a good number one? Can he impose himself on the fractious and demoralised egos among our squad? Can he deal with the very public pressures of coaching a top club like The Arsenal?
Your guess is as good as mine, but for now I’m happy just to have the hope.
One of my hopes is that he’ll take this squad by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. I sense that, over time, Emery lost the respect of the players and they also lost confidence in him. Miki needs to hit the ground running and show that he won’t stand for carelessness, laziness, bad attitudes and sulks.
He’ll be watching from the directors’ box today as we take on his old club Everton at Goodison Park, with Freddie Ljungberg in charge of matters for the last time.
I suspect Fred is relieved to be passing the baton. This little stint will have done his future prospects as a coach no harm at all, but it was hardly a good situation for him to step into with no proper assistant coaches and a team whose confidence is shot.
I would love Fred to go out on a winning note and I fancy he will. What his role is moving forward remains to be seen, but I hope he stays at the club.
The Everton game brings two great footballing superstitions face to face: it’s “ex players come back to haunt their old club,” versus “new manager bounce.” We’re at risk from the ex players, but if Iwobi or Walcott manage to bag a goal against us I hope we’ll have the fortitude to score more in reply.
As for our new boss bounce, I know Miki is not technically in charge today, but all the players know he’ll have his eye on them and they’ll want to impress.
Our crop of injuries doesn’t help. With Kieran Tierney already out for weeks the last thing we needed was for Sead Kolasinac to get crocked, but crocked he did get. With Rob Holding still out and Hector Bellerin doubtful we’re looking threadbare at the back.
Here’s my wild guess at our starting line-up:
Chambers Luiz Sokratis AMN
Pepe Aubameyang Martinelli
Everton are six places and four points below us in the Premier League table, but have started showing a bit of spirit since Duncan “Elbows” Ferguson took over as caretaker manager. They’ll be up for it today and I expect a close game which we’ll shade by the odd goal, perhaps 2-1 or 3-2 to us.
It’s way beyond time that we Gooners had something to be excited about it. Let the new era begin.
Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!