Mikel Arteta can be the next Arsene Wenger for Arsenal, claims Gael Clichy, but the under-fire Gunners boss is going to need time in which to complete a transformation from highly-rated assistant coach into top-class manager.
FA Cup and Community Shield successes are starting to feel like a distant memory for an inexperienced Spanish tactician who is finding out the hard way how tough life at the top can be.
Arteta cut his teeth working alongside Pep Guardiola at Manchester City after hanging up his boots, but the transition from right-hand man to front of house has not been as seamless as he had hoped.
Former Arsenal and City defender Clichy, who briefly worked with Arteta at the Etihad Stadium, told Stadium Astro: “Pep was a bit distant with the players and Mikel was really close because he was the link.
“He is younger, has got that vibe of being a player not long ago. You can have that being a No.2, but being a No.1 can you be like that? I don’t know.
“I heard that [Carlo] Ancelotti is like that. Not many have that ability. This is a big thing. I think Mikel in a few years will be the complete manager because he will have that link with the players and he will learn how to deal with everything around the team because being a manager is not being a coach.
"Time will help him, but do we have time in football?”
Clichy added: “No.2 is not being No.1, that’s a fact. It’s very difficult to estimate how good a manager you are going to be even if you have been a great assistant.
“Pep is one of the best, if not the best coach in Europe, so being at his side for that many years for sure you will be inspired by him.
“I’m surprised to see Arteta’s team playing the way they are, because that’s not what Pep would want. I’m not saying that is what Mikel wants, but I’m sure Mikel would like something different.
“The question is, is he approaching the game with a different philosophy because he feels the players cannot give him what he wants? Or is it because he doesn’t have the players he wants?
“Confidence is a big factor but I’m sure he is the right man.”
Clichy believes Arteta now needs to be backed by the Arsenal board, despite the north London outfit slipping to 15th in the Premier League table, with the potential there for him to follow in the footsteps of a three-time Premier League title-winning manager.
The Frenchman said: “What I want to say is, are we turning all the focus around the academy or be a club like Man City that is not afraid to spend money to be competitive?
"Are we going to be a club that does a bit of both and in a good season finish in the top-half of the table and in a bad season be fighting for relegation?
“We are not talking about any club, we are talking about one of the best in England and in Europe, so you need a clear vision.
“Arsene was who he was, but he had the vision. He had young players, turned them into superstars and sold them for big profit for the club. Fans turned on him because he wasn’t doing what they wanted in winning the title but he was qualifying for the Champions League. Now you think that wasn’t so bad.
“Mikel Arteta has got that in him, he could be the next Arsene Wenger. But Arsene had all the power. Anything going through Arsenal was going through him.
“Mikel is not like that. He has players that maybe he didn’t want. He inherited players that he didn’t want for the future and his team don’t have the money to get the players he wants. He’s trying his best, he has to keep on fighting.”