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Mikel Arteta has warned that prospective football managers are being put off by the level of abuse and vitriol surrounding those in the role, saying he is aware of people who have serious doubts about a career in the dugout because of the potential effect on their wellbeing.
In a stark message that more must be done to protect individuals in his profession, Arteta also said he knows of experienced managers who are considering quitting the sport because of fears over the treatment they may receive. He was speaking after Steve Bruce, who was relieved of his duties at Newcastle on Wednesday, spoke movingly of the toll that fans’ revilement had taken during his two years in the job.
Asked whether there was a risk of younger coaches feeling reluctant to take the step up to management, Arteta said: “A lot of people think like that. I have a lot of friends who are doing the courses who doubt if they want to take the hot seat or whether it is better to be an assistant or something else.
“This cannot be the barrier, [having] fear about the treatment you are going to receive. The enjoyment as well is that big, that it should not stop you. But it is important that we take care a little bit of the environment and putting things in the right place. If not, I don’t think it will get better; it will get worse if we don’t do anything about it.”
Arteta revealed he has heard similar misgivings from managers across the age spectrum. “People who have been managers already,” he said in confirming he has taken calls on the matter. “Experienced managers, and they are thinking about not doing it again.”
The Arsenal manager said he reminds those people of “the focus, the passion and the love” that first led them to the job. But Bruce has said he is considering not returning to management due to the strain, something that rang alarm bells for Arteta given his colleague is 60 and has dealt with the full gamut of experiences over 23 years in management.
Arteta paid tribute to Bruce and said things must “start to change”, with an “open table” discussion required. In December he will be two years into his first managerial position and he said the level of scrutiny requires constant adjustment.
“You adapt, you learn and you try to take things into perspective. You agree or disagree. Criticism and opinions can make you better and you have to listen to that when it comes from the right place. You need to have the right people as well. The key is where you put your focus. If you put your focus there [on the criticism], you are going to be an unhappy man.”
Meanwhile, Other Premier League managers also offered their backing to Bruce. “It is sad to hear,” said the Brighton’s Graham Potter. “I suppose we sign up to it to a certain extent but there is a line that it’s not right to cross and it’s not nice when you hear that.”
Watford’s manager, Claudio Ranieri, expressed a hope that Bruce can put the experience behind him, saying: “When something bad is coming, I always think positive and that [bad] is over my shoulder and I look forward. I also hope Steve can do this.”
Arteta hopes his work will be well received on Friday night, when Arsenal face Aston Villa at the Emirates. They are waiting on the fitness of Bukayo Saka, who was substituted at half-time of Monday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace after a heavy challenge by James McArthur.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, believes the vote of Premier League clubs to temporarily stop teams agreeing sponsorship deals tied to their owners shows the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle has their competition worried.
Al-Jadaan, in an interview with CNBC Middle East, said the rest of the league would be concerned about the club’s resources. “I don’t know the technicalities of the [Premier League] but if people are worried about competition amongst clubs and particularly now we have invested in one of them, possibly it’s a good sign that there is a potential serious competitor coming their way, which is good for the whole football community,” he said.