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‘It wasn’t the right time’ – Arteta reveals he was ‘close’ to replacing Wenger as Arsenal boss

18:34 GMT 20/12/2019
Arsene Wenger Mikel Arteta
The Spaniard has admitted that he nearly took over at the Emirates two summers ago, but was pipped to the post by Unai Emery

New Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that he was ‘close’ to taking the top job in the summer of 2018, after Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign as manager finally came to an end.

However, former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery was appointed instead, and despite a promising start, he was sacked in November after a 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt capped off a run of woeful form and poor football.

Arteta, 37, admits that it could all have been very different, as he was a strong contender for the post before Emery was hired, but concedes that it was not the right moment for him and that the experience he has gained since puts him in a better position now.

“I was a little bit close [to replacing Wenger],” Arteta admitted. “It wasn’t the right time. The right time came now. I’m glad I learned a lot from that experience. It was great to be part of the process. I was very prepared for this one and it helped.”

The Spaniard hailed his former coach for bringing him to Arsenal as a player and claims he would not be in this job if not for the Frenchman.

He went on to explain his vision for his time as head coach as he learns a new role in his career.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if [Wenger] didn’t have the vision to join this incredible club.

“I have my ideas that I would like to keep for myself. I have to corroborate myself when I see them act and behave.

“I want to do things my way by convincing them that this is the right way. I want people who are comfortable with what I’m asking them to do.

“I want people who deliver passion and energy to the football club. Anybody who doesn’t buy into it is not good enough for this club and culture.

“I need to understand how they’re feeling, what they’re lacking. If I reach that point I can help them, they will trust me and follow me.”

Arteta also admitted that he was convinced by the stature of the club to take on what is a sizeable task of restoring Arsenal to the top of English football.

“Sometimes in this industry you can have a plan and an idea of how to develop. And then emotions get involved. When Arsenal knock the door, and it touches my heart, it makes it very difficult [to say no].

“It was a very difficult decision. But I felt the club needed someone to appoint. They were so convinced they wanted me that I said I have to take the challenge.”