Just 16 games aren’t much to judge a managerial career on, but in the case of Mikel Arteta it is all the data we have to go on. The raw numbers say he has begun his career in the dugout at Arsenal with a 50 percent win rate. Not at all bad for a novice, but we aren’t exactly dealing with your average coaching rookie.
Arteta, a former club captain of the Gunners, has learned at the feet of the master and fellow Spanish boss Pep Guardiola. As part of the backroom staff at Manchester City, he was in the setup that landed a clean sweep of major domestic trophies in English football last season.
Although the Treble isn’t an achievement Arteta can claim outright, he is cast in its reflective glory. After leaving the Etihad for the Emirates Stadium, it took him four games to get his first win and that was over Manchester United on New Year’s Day.
That saw Arsenal embark upon a 10-match unbeaten run which was only ended by their extra time away goals rule exit from the Europa League courtesy of Olympiakos. Arteta doesn’t match up well to predecessor Unai Emery in that regard.
His fellow Spaniard steered the Gunners all the way to the 2019 Europa League final, but they were comprehensively beaten by London rivals Chelsea. Emery lost his first two games after taking over from legendary manager Arsene Wenger, but they were arguably tough fixtures. Despite that difficult start, he went on to win 12 of his next 14 games in charge. That gives Emery a superior win ratio of 75% in his first 16 matches.
The trouble with comparisons between Arsenal’s two Spanish coaches is one is a seasoned manager that has been the boss of some big clubs in Europe. Succeeding Wenger was always going to be something of a poisoned chalice, but Emery made a pretty good fist of it and drew upon all of his experience.
Arteta hasn’t had spells in charge of Valencia, Sevilla and PSG. Where the Gunners were once prominent in most football betting markets, their status is sadly somewhat diminished to falling well short of the dizzying heights that have been set by Man City and Liverpool of late. Expectations have been dampened as a result. For all his time under Guardiola, Arteta is still in the infancy of his own managerial career.
When you consider that and the fact that his start to life as the boss at Arsenal is only two-thirds as good as Emery, it’s pretty decent going. There were previous links with roles at Rangers, where he played before coming to the Premier League, and Everton where he made his reputation on the pitch in England.
Moves to either of those clubs would arguably have been an easier step. That is not Arteta’s way, however, and the high regard in which he has always been held during his football career remains unchanged as he takes his first steps out on his own in management.