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Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal promotion recognises work during challenging period

Arsenal v Chelsea – Heads Up FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Catherine Ivill)

Mikel Arteta has been promoted from head coach to manager of Arsenal in recognition of his work in “probably the toughest nine-month period” in the history of the club, according to chief executive Vinai Venkatesham.

It was announced on Thursday that Arteta would now be the first-team manager as opposed to the head coach, while Venkatesham took over the mantle of chief executive having previously operated as managing director.

Appointed in December to replace Unai Emery, Arteta also took the title of head coach – the role which Arsenal introduced after Arsene Wenger’s near-autonomous 22-year spell as manager came to an end in 2018.

However, constant changes in the structure and hierarchy of the club in an attempt to secure a return to the top four of the Premier League and to Champions League football meant Arteta was taking on more responsibilities than had been expected of Emery.

The recent departure of head of football Raul Sanllehi, who was pivotal in the decision to appoint Emery as Wenger’s successor, saw Arteta then allied with technical director Edu.

The pair, both former Arsenal midfielders, are now responsible for all of the technical decisions at the Emirates Stadium, with Arteta now recognised as the club’s manager.

“We are going to change Mikel’s job title,” Venkatesham confirmed.

“Mikel joined as head coach, as you all know, and, I think as you all know, he hasn’t been a head coach from the very first day he walked in the door.

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“He has been doing much more than that. So we are going to change his job to first-team manager and that is really a recognition of what he has been doing from the day he walked in the door and also the capabilities that we believe Mikel has.

“He has walked into probably the toughest nine-month period this football club has had in its 134-year history.

“During that period, Mikel has lifted the spirits of fans, staff, players and driven this team to an FA Cup semi-final and an FA Cup final, winning that trophy and winning the Community Shield. That is no mean feat.”

Venkatesham’s own role change comes on the back of a difficult time for the club’s former chief commercial officer.

He and Sanllehi signed off on 55 redundancies as the business counted the cost of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool v Arsenal – Community Shield – Wembley Stadium

Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to victory in the Community Shield (Justin Tallis/PA)

Some of those employees are finding out this week whether their positions have been cut and Venkatesham admits the decision has left him having sleepless nights.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I’ve been at this club for 10 years and this is not a big organisation, we don’t have hundreds of thousands of employees all around the world.

“We’ve got hundreds of employees all based within 30 miles of each other. I know the people, I know their families, I know people very closely.

“So, to make a decision that we had to propose redundancies was really, really tough and we did that for the right reasons.

“I would be lying if I said there had not been sleepless nights and this week is a week where lots of people have been finding out about how it all lands, so this has been a really, really tough week at the football club – tough for me but much more tough for the people directly impacted.”