Apologies if you clicked on the headline hoping to see an unflattering picture of Mikel Arteta carrying a bit of timber.
That’s not the kind of weight I’m talking about.
If tubby managers are your thing I would refer you to archive images of Sam Allardyce, Steve Bruce, Chris Wilder and – for you really incorrigible chubby chasers – Diego Maradona.
I want to talk about ‘weight’ as a phenomenalogical concept, more akin to ‘gravitas’ or ‘substance’.
All the most successful football managers have it, regardless of whether they’re built like a barrage balloon or are so small they would blow away in a breeze.
Love ’em or loathe ’em, Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho, Klopp, Guardiola, Ancelotti all had or have the gravity of a small planet, attracting success and devotion in equal measure.
It comes, I think, from a combination of innate character strength, a clear vision and an obsessive work ethic, with communication skills thrown in.
Most Arsenal fans have been encouraged by Arteta’s start to his managerial career.
In short order he has stopped the decline that was becoming precipitous under Unai Emery, brought back a sense of organisation to the team, stamped his authority on the squad (to some players’ cost) and even won a trophy in his first half-season in charge.
People are beginning to notice and there have been several news stories in the past week that have all attested to his capabilities.
For a start, there was an excellent interview with Nicklas Bendtner on Arseblog’s Arsecast podcast on Friday. During a wide ranging discussion about the big Dane’s life, career and time at Arsenal, Arseblog asked him what he thought of Mikel Arteta, with whom he had played.
Bendtner said it was obvious even back then that Arteta had the qualities to be a successful coach. He also told the Guardian that Arteta had “an iron will almost unlike anything I have ever known.”
Next up, Dani Ceballos gave a press interview in which he explained why he had pressured Real Madrid to allow him to return to Arsenal this season.
This is the key quote: “With Mikel I found happiness as a player and as a person. And that is key for a player.”
Madrid may be one of the two or three biggest clubs in the world, but the pull of Arteta brought the talented midfielder back to N5.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, came Arsene Wenger’s endorsement of Action Man.
Speaking in the Observer the great Frenchman, when asked if he had advice for Arteta, said: “To continue to have a grip on the team as he has at the moment, and to go to the end of his beliefs.”
Adding that he thought Arsenal could be a “surprise package” this season he backed us to finish in the top four or even better.
All these observations point to a growing sense among many well- informed people within the game that Arsenal may have a very special young manager on their hands.
An intelligent, focused, serious and strong personality who has learnt from two of the best coaches of the modern era in Wenger and Guardiola.
I don’t want to go overboard. Many a career has burned brightly for a short time only to sputter out and disappear.
But all the indications are that we have found a gem. And that the club’s owners need to back him all the way because if they don’t, you can guarantee that others will.