Cesc Fabregas on Mikel Arteta’s Struggles & the Problems Facing Modern Managers



Cesc Fabregas has enjoyed watching Arsenal under Mikel Arteta | RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images

Mikel Arteta will always remember his first few months in charge of Arsenal. The Spaniard helped get the Gunners back on track, and once football returned from its four-month hiatus in June, there’s a case to argue that Arsenal were the best side in the country.

While there were a handful of frustrating results, Arsenal did beat Liverpool in the Premier League and then went on to beat both Manchester City and Chelsea en route to lifting the FA Cup in August. There was reason to believe that the Gunners were back.

Fast-forward to this season, however, and the same questions which had plagued Unai Emery’s time at the Emirates have been asked of an Arsenal side who have lost four of their last six Premier League games.

?️ “As soon as something goes wrong, they prefer to get results and confidence.”@benhainess spoke with @cesc4official about Arsenal’s form and the pressure on Mikel Arteta.

? Watch the #RedBullStreetStyle World Final this Saturday on https://t.co/Wj7ehu8OK1 | @RedBullUK pic.twitter.com/bzrKPnH8SV

— 90min (@90min_Football) November 13, 2020

A particularly uninspiring Arsenal were unapologetically thumped 3-0 by Aston Villa just before the international break, with Arteta’s side crying out for somebody with the creativity of Cesc Fabregas, who made 304 appearances for the club between 2003 and 2011.

“Listen, it’s a transition period,” Fabregas tells 90min as he prepares himself to be a judge at Red Bull’s Street Style World Final. “Mikel has his ideas, but it takes time. The problem for a coach nowadays is that you have no time. You lose three games, everyone is asking for your head.

“I know it’s very, very difficult because you want to implement your ideas, and it’s a process. Sometimes, it’s difficult because football is moving very quickly, everyone wants to win, there’s pressure from the board, from the fans, from the players. You’re on the spot every single day.

“He’s trying to find his team. They have [Dani] Ceballos, they have [Granit] Xhaka, now they’ve added Thomas Partey from Atletico, who’s a very good player as well. They have Willian, they have [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang – top, top players, that’s 100% sure. Maybe they still need a little bit more time.”

Mikel ArtetaFabregas calls for patience | Pool/Getty Images

Fabregas has seen his former side sacrifice the attacking flair which won them the FA Cup last season in favour of a more pragmatic approach, with Arteta seemingly focused on shoring up the defence.

It’s a balance which Arteta is yet to fully figure out. His side have failed to score in three of their last four games, with their solitary strike coming in a 1-0 win over a Manchester United side who are struggling with similar issues.

Fabregas sympathises with his fellow Spaniard. He admits to being a fan of Arteta’s style of play, but concedes that managers these days cannot afford to spend too much time trying to get their team playing in a certain way if results aren’t going well.

“That’s they key nowadays, especially from what I’ve seen in the last four or five years with coaches that I’ve had,” he continues. “They come with an idea, they try to start with that idea, but as soon as something goes wrong, they become a little bit… not scared, but they prefer to get results and get confidence, rather than keep going with their philosophy or their ideas and lose.

“Like [Jose] Mourinho always used to say, you need to be pragmatic. Maybe at the beginning nowadays, you do need to get results first, I don’t deny that, but you have to have the personality. For example, someone like Patrick Vieira at Nice. I followed him at New York City and now at Nice for a few years. He has a young squad but he goes with his philosophy no matter what. He likes to play.

Cesc Fabregas, Jose MourinhoFabregas has seen Jose Mourinho go through similar issues | Michael Regan/Getty Images

“He knows that the kids will make mistakes, but he says ‘If you make a mistake, it’s on me’. He has the personality to not change. You will not see Vieira going 4-4-2 in a defensive way or something like that because he always believes in his players and his methodology. It’s very nice to see coaches like this.”

Vieira is one of the most famous leaders in Arsenal history, and Fabregas believes Arteta has shown similar attributes as a manager.

“You can see that he’s a leader, that he knows a lot of football,” he adds. “He obviously learned from one of the very best coaches in history, Pep Guardiola, and for him, that must have been a masterclass. I have no doubt about that.

Pep Guardiola, Mikel ArtetaArteta has picked up Guardiola’s style of play | Fred Lee/Getty Images

“He was at Barcelona, he knows what it takes to win. It’s an exciting moment for Arsenal, because I believe that even though it’s his first job, he’s showing personality, and hopefully he can do well for the club.”

In the meantime, Fabregas’ focus is not on Arsenal. Red Bull Street Style World Championships are coming up, and the midfielder has been invited to be one of the judges for the finale.

It’s something Fabregas is relishing, largely because he gets to help children from around the globe inject some positivity into what has been a thoroughly challenging year.

Very excited to take part as a judge on this year’s @redbull Street Style World Championship of Freestyle Football!
Let’s see what you got to offer ?⚽https://t.co/xzn6Kg31f6

— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) October 6, 2020

“It’s fantastic,” he says. “It’s difficult times for everybody. But with this experience, all these boys and girls are competing for something, which is amazing.

“They’ve been at home for months, and sometimes it seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. What Red Bull is doing, it’s a fantastic competition for guys and girls to prove themselves by doing what they love the most, and at the same time, improving and competing to be the best. There’s no better place to do it than here with Red Bull.”

You can watch the Bull Street Style World Final this Saturday on redbullstreetstyle.com





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