Hector Bellerin: Mikel Arteta great choice as Arsenal manager and this is for the future
Spaniard says discipline in dressing room has changed since new manager took over
Hector Bellerin says he has seen enough already of Mikel Arteta to be convinced his former teammate is the right man to deliver long-term success at Arsenal.
Arteta, a previous club captain, was appointed manager in late December as successor to Unai Emery, bringing to an end his hugely successful three years as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Arteta’s early impact at Arsenal has not necessarily been reflected in their results, with the side winning once in seven Premier League matches to sit 10th in the table. However, they have suffered only one defeat in that time.
BellerinBallerin knows Arteta better than most, though, having arrived at the club at the same time – in the summer of 2011 – initially as a youth player before breaking into the first team two years later. Arteta retired in 2016.
Bellerin, 24, has been impressed with his fellow Spaniard’s first seven weeks in charge and is confident the club have made the right decision – both for the present and future. Arteta’s contract at Arsenal runs until 2023.
“Mikel has been an appointment that is not just to cover [a short time], this is something to build upon,” said Bellerin, speaking this week during the squad's Dubai training camp. “He has the Arsenal philosophy from the start; when he came as a player they knew that he was the right person to lead the dressing room, because he came as a captain as well.
“He’s a great choice and this is for the future. And that’s the way we’re training as well. We want to obviously win the games that we have in hand, but we also want to build a good foundation to be able to, whatever player comes, whatever player goes, it doesn’t matter what first XI is starting on the pitch, everyone knows what their job is.”
Arsenal in Dubai
Arsenal had slipped significantly during Emery’s second season, and by the time the former Paris Saint-Germain manager was dismissed on November 29, they had not won in seven matches – the club's worst run without a victory since 1992.
Arsenal had spent more than £130 million (Dh618m) on new players in the summer, but were without a league win in almost eight weeks and sat eight points off the top four.
After Freddie Ljungberg's brief spell as caretaker, the club installed Arteta, who has quickly brought more authority on the pitch and to the dressing room, something that was said to be lacking during Emery's 18-month tenure.
“They’re very different type of managers,” Bellerin said. “Mikel has always been very tactical in his work and in his whole life – he’s very professional with very clear ideas. He’s put that into the team very quickly.
“The discipline in the dressing room has also changed a lot and that’s a very important pillar to then build on.”
Arsenal’s five draws from seven league matches since Arteta’s appointment can be attributed largely to their profligacy in front of goal. They have scored eight times, but Bellerin believes the full extent of his manager’s tactical approach will be felt only once the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe rediscover their touch.
“It’s very early doors in terms of [Mikel] has a new philosophy, a new idea," Bellerin said. "And the way the team has implemented in the last few games we’ve played it’s clear there’s been a big change.
“Sometimes we need to be a bit more efficient in front of goal – that's also something that comes with confidence. When you see that you're playing better and controlling games better, the goals are something that's going to come. I'm sure you're going to see that very quickly.”
Arsenal will need to find that fast if they are to even think of top four. Lying 10th after 26 matches, they are 10 points off Chelsea, who occupy the final Uefa Champions League spot. Arsenal resume their campaign on Sunday, at home to Newcastle United.
Asked if gatecrashing the top four remains possible, Bellerin said: “We can always make top four; that’s the least that Arsenal can have as a target. But what we need to do is get the idea that the boss wants to implement, get it 100 per cent and, once we can, build from that.
“Once we can play every single game and can control every game in the way we want to do, top four is just going to be something that will come.”
Updated: February 12, 2020 11:36 AM