Bacary Sagna is not surprised to see Mikel Arteta thriving as Arsenal boss after witnessing his managerial capabilities firsthand during their time as teammates.
Arteta was Gunners captain between 2014-2016, lifting two FA Cups as skipper.
Former right-back Sagna has given an insight into Arteta’s period as club captain and the role he had in Arsenal’s comeback win in the 2014 FA Cup final against Hull City.
“Mikel was always vocal while he was the captain; he was a natural leader,” Sagna told Lord Ping. “When we were 2-0 down after ten minutes, I remember thinking ‘this is going to be my worst day in an Arsenal shirt if we can’t turn this around,’ but I never lost faith on the pitch.
“The team had the togetherness to get back into the game and we had a coach in Arsene Wenger who played a massive part because he was so positive.
“He didn’t think about the half that we had just played and at half-time he was telling us to relax and to keep playing our own game. Mikel was also very positive at that moment and trying to motivate the troops.
“Mikel has always been a natural leader and I wasn’t surprised to see him becoming a coach.”
Sagna continued: “As a captain he was always speaking to Wenger. He liked to relay Arsene’s messages and he was very big on team bonding. He would ensure that there were certain standards playing for Arsenal and that all of the players were giving their best for the club.
“He was very sensitive about every detail, not just on the pitch and in the dressing room. He made sure that all of the players stuck together.
“When new players joined the club, he would make sure that we all went out for dinner together and he also made sure that the player’s wives got on well. He wanted to make sure that everyone in the squad was happy on and off the pitch and their families were too – he created a natural vibe within the squad. Everyone was brought together.
“He used to talk a lot to the younger players about their professionalism and being a good pro. He analysed every single detail.”
With Arsenal competing at the top of the Premier League, Sagna says it is not a surprise to see Arteta make such a great impact in a little over three years in charge.
“No,” the Frenchman responded when asked if he was surprised by Arteta’s success.
“When he went and joined Pep’s [Guardiola] coaching staff at Manchester City that would have accelerated his development as a coach. In Pep he had one of the best role models any coach could have and both men have known each other for a long time from their time at Barcelona where Mikel started out as a player.
“He learned from the best, so I wasn’t surprised to see the impact that he has had as a manager.
“I used to go and watch football at his house and he was very vocal about the tactics that were played – he would sit there and analyse every single detail of the games!
“He had a natural desire to discover more and to try to understand every detail.”
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