Mikel Arteta has confirmed he had no prior knowledge of the European Super League before Arsenal announced their intention to join.
Arsenal were one of six Premier League clubs to confirm their entry into the new breakaway tournament at the start of the week. However, the move was met with severe backlash. Now, all six of those English teams have withdrawn.
The fall out from the competition’s apparent collapse is continuing. Several clubs have now issued apologies to their supporters for their roles in the tournament.
Arsenal did so two days ago but the questions have kept coming. Arteta had to fend off several at his press conference ahead of their match against Everton on Friday.
When asked if he agreed with their decision to join the ESL, the Gunners manager said he knew nothing about it.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said.
“Before I could start to read or evaluate or have any opinion on it the competition was dead already.”
Arsenal have had to apologise for the events of the past few days and Arteta confirmed the club had said sorry to him as well.
“Yes,” Arteta responded to a question of if the club had apologised to him. “Starting from [chief executive] Vinai [Venkatesham], the ownership, and everybody that is involved in the process.
“All of them with the right intentions to defend the club and put the club in the best possible position for now and for the future but accepting that the way it’s been handled obviously has had terrible consequences and that it was a mistake.”
The club’s owner Stan Kroenke and his son Josh have also been in touch with Arteta.
“Yes I had some communication with them as well,” the manager confirmed. “I spoke with them yesterday. Those communications were in the same terms.”
Arteta also confirmed that the Kroenkes had sent their apologies to him as well.
“Yes absolutely,” he said.
“Obviously, they have the maximum responsibility to run the football club and this is what they said.”
The ESL project has shown there is a gap between the thoughts of some owners and wishes of their fans. There were very few supporters of the competition.
Arteta, though, still trusts his owners after answering a question about why they thought it was a good idea.
“Well I don’t know but I know the people that works in the organisation,” he said. “First of all they are very caring for the interests of the football club and secondly they are very intelligent and professional people.
“So I’m sure that they have the right reasons to start something but it clearly didn’t work, or it wasn’t the right time, it wasn’t done the right way and it was time to step back.”
Arteta doesn’t feel let down
The boss continued his defence of his employers by denying that he felt let down by them.
“No, I feel very supported by everybody at the club,” he said. “I feel privileged, again, and I will say it loud and clear, again, the way we have dealt with this pandemic internally, with all the issues that we had in recent months, there have been loads and unprecedented for this football club, internally and externally.
“I still see everybody coming here with a smile on their faces and proud to represent this football club. That for me is a big achievement and something I’m really proud of.”
Now the attention must turn to the pitch, where Arteta insists his players will still be focused.
“Well, I will try to prepare the team in the best possible way so that isn’t the case,” he said.
“We know that we might have a situation outside the stadium because our fans want to express their feelings, and our job is to try to make the team as focused as possible to perform on the pitch.”