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Ex-Arsenal chief Raul Sanllehi says he’d never have hired Mikel Arteta as manager and decision ‘betrayed the model’

, Ex-Arsenal chief Raul Sanllehi says he’d never have hired Mikel Arteta as manager and decision ‘betrayed the model’

FORMER Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi has claimed he would have NEVER made Mikel Arteta manager of the Gunners.

The 56-year-old Spaniard reckons the appointment “betrayed the model” in place at the Emirates, and Arteta should have stayed on as head coach.

Mikel Arteta was made Arsenal first-team manager in September 2020

Raul Sanhelli left his role as Arsenal head of football in the summer of 2020

After joining in December 2019, Arteta’s role changed from head coach to first-team manager the following September, shortly after Sanllehi left the club.

It saw the Arsenal boss take on more responsibility off the pitch instead of simply focusing on churning out results.

And Sanllehi, who is now director at Spanish second division side Real Zaragoza, believes making Arteta manager “betrayed the model” in place at the Emirates.

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Sanllehi told The Athletic: “I do not agree when clubs call the first-team coach the manager.

“First-team coach is first-team coach, that is enough. Nowadays, the workload is overwhelming, and I need him to concentrate on the first team.

“Anything that distracts you from that is not your responsibility — travel arrangements, the pitch, salary budget, medical department.

“We will get other people to do that. The first-team coach is short-term oriented — just win tonight’s game.

“They have betrayed the model a little bit now. By going back to the manager at the top, that is a mistake, but that is their mistake.

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“I would have not allowed that to happen. But that’s fine, it is working so far for them.” 

Sanllehi reckoned he had a “dream team” in place at the end of 2019, just after Arteta had been appointed as head coach, not manager.

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He said: “I remember in December 2019, I had dinner with the four guys: (Arsenal’s then newly-appointed head coach) Mikel Arteta, (technical director) Edu, (head of football operations) Huss Fahmy and (academy manager) Per Mertesacker. 

“On the toast, I said, ‘Now, it is on us. Now it is exactly the model I asked for. If it does not work, we have no excuses’.

“That team for me was a dream team at that time. Then in March, everything just fell apart. It was sad.”

The pandemic saw Sanllehi lay off 55 members of staff at Arsenal, before being axed himself.

And despite Arteta taking on more responsibility as first-team manager since then, the Spaniard is delivering on the pitch.

The Gunners have enjoyed a brilliant start to the campaign, winning six out of seven games so far.

Arteta’s side are top of the Premier League and there is talk of a potential title charge being whispered quietly by some fans.

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