‘Arteta knows he will be judged on results’ – Arsenal boss feeling pressure but can pull through, says Winterburn
Mikel Arteta knows he will be “judged on results”, says Nigel Winterburn, with the Spaniard being backed to pull through the pressure that is mounting on him at Arsenal.
FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs over the summer, which came within a matter of weeks, had many believing that the Gunners had rediscovered their mojo.
More shrewd transfer business was also said to have been carried out, with the likes of Willian, Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey mixing youth, experience, graft and guile.
Old habits die hard, though, for Arsenal and inconsistency has become an issue once again.
The north London giants are off to their worst start to a season in 39 years, with catch-up already being played in the race for top-four finishes in the Premier League.
Questions are inevitably being asked of Arteta as a rookie manager desperately seeks a winning formula, with the 38-year-old learning quickly how difficult life at the top can be.
Winterburn admits that Arsenal are doing their boss few favours at present, but he believes the right man is at the helm to deliver a reversal in fortune and become a better coach along the way.
The former Gunners left-back told FreeSuperTips: “Mikel Arteta is a new manager with very limited experience. I like what he's trying to achieve at Arsenal, but most people would agree that this is going to be his most tricky period so far.
“He’s realistic, he knows that he's judged on results, particularly the way that we report things now, especially with social media, punditry podcasts, every game is analysed. It’s so stringent, and he knows if this poor form continues, the pressure will mount on his shoulders.
“He has to learn on the job here at Arsenal, and this involves going through periods where things are not plain sailing. From my point of view, I wish we were winning every game and sitting top of the league.
“If Arteta can come out the other side of this difficult period, it will allow him to develop as a manager, and tell him a few things about the players that he's got at the football club as well. It's not just him, it's down to the players also to try different things and come up with the right combinations.”
Part of the problem for Arsenal appears to be that they do not know which system and personnel suits them best, with Winterburn eager to see Arteta revert back to a five-man defence.
He added: “When Mikel Arteta first came to Arsenal, he selected a back five to make us more stable defensively, but his preferred option is actually to play with a back four. However, I’m not convinced Arsenal are good enough to play with a back four.
“It’s not only about the back four, it's also not being sure about the protection in front of the defence as well as the midfield combinations of late.
“I still believe when Thomas Partey comes back, we’re going to be significantly stronger. Although people talk of him as a holding midfield player, we've already seen in a couple of games that he’s able to take the ball off the defence from deep positions and get us moving forward, quicker.
“We need to move forward with the ball a lot quicker than what we're doing at the moment. It all feels a little too structured and slow of late.”