Mikel Arteta has brought “fresh air” to Arsenal, according to Nacho Monreal, but he doesn’t think that Unai Emery was given enough time as manager after Arsene Wenger’s exit.
Arteta was drafted in to succeed Emery in the Emirates Stadium hot seat in December 2019, having earned his coaching stripes as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City over the previous three years.
The 38-year-old, who took in a spell as the Gunners’ captain during his playing days, quickly began implementing his own philosophy in north London based around quick passing interchanges and playing out from the back, and got an immediate response from the players.
Arsenal recovered from a poor start to the 2019-20 campaign to salvage an eighth-place finish in the Premier League, while also embarking on a thrilling run to FA Cup glory.
Arteta’s men have struggled to build on that platform at the start of the new season, but supporters have bought into the Spaniard’s vision for long-term success and it appears he will be afforded patience while trying to usher in a new era.
Monreal is not surprised that his fellow countryman ended up in management, and thinks he will only get better and better in his role at the Emirates.
Asked if he knew Arteta would transition from the pitch to the touchline at some stage, the former Gunners defender told The Guardian: “Yes. You could see it. He was a leader, a captain.
“He expressed himself very well, spoke in every meeting, knowledgably. He communicated well.
“He was doing his badges, telling us his vocation was coaching. He was bright, tactically he understood, he grasped everything. That said, so fast?
“No. I didn’t expect that. But he will have learned with Guardiola. He’s brought fresh air and will grow more.”
Monreal, who left Arsenal to return to La Liga with Real Sociedad in the summer of 2019, added: “I would have loved to have played under Arteta. I spoke to Hector [Bellerin] about that.
"I had him as a team-mate and I would have loved to see him as a coach; there’s that curiosity in me. But I chose another path and came to San Sebastian. I’m happy for me and him because things are going well.”
Monreal went on to express his sympathy towards Arteta’s predecessor, with it his belief that Emery was always going to struggle after stepping into the shoes of a man who had spent over two decades in the Arsenal hot seat.
“Wenger’s departure was controversial,” he said. “There was a big divide among the fans, we saw it every game. After 22 years, the first post-Wenger coach was always going to have a difficult role.
“Maybe Unai [Emery] didn’t get the time he needed but he did a good job.”