There is no doubting Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is under severe pressure.
However, his failures and successes are shared intrinsically by technical director Edu Gaspar. Arsenal faces perhaps the greatest period of uncertainty and turmoil in the club’s history.
Currently languishing in 15th place, twelve points off of the top four and only four points above the relegation zone, Arsenal’s entire leadership team is under intense scrutiny. Manager Mikel Arteta is certainly the target of most fans’ ire but the responsibility of this situation falls at the feet of his Brazilian counterpart Edu Gaspar as well.
It was only a few months ago that the vast majority of supporters sang the praises of both men. In his first six months as manager Arteta had seemingly brought the club back from the brink, spearheading a cultural renaissance in the locker room and guiding the club to a record 14th FA Cup.
With the deadline day acquisition of star midfielder Thomas Partey, Edu was being applauded as a keen transfer strategist. However, with new lows being set day after day it’s hard to imagine a world where the pair aren’t both fighting for their jobs.
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The emotional link between fans and both of these former Arsenal players has certainly played a role in the way this season has unfolded. Along with the absence of fans in the arena, it can be argued that Edu and Arteta have gotten somewhat of a pass for this terrible run of form because of their link to the club. Although Arteta is the one front and center when it comes to criticism, Edu is just culpable. If not more so.
If the manager’s ship sinks it is hard to imagine a scenario where Edu doesn’t go down with it.
Arteta has certainly made a catalog of mistakes this season. From the poor handling of William Saliba‘s first season in England to the stubborn persistence with players like Granit Xhaka and Willian, Arteta has made several rods for his own back.
While most of the players don’t look like they have downed tools completely, there is a general malaise and persistent fear throughout the squad that the manager has not been able to arrest. Currently, in his first managerial stint, Arteta has not shown the capacity to stop the rot and that failure has to fall squarely at his feet.
However, if Arteta’s fate is sealed then Edu must be attached to his hip. Arsenal’s technical director has failed to properly build a healthy playing squad and manage the direction of this club during a difficult time.
From simply failing to finish the paperwork for Saliba’s loan deal to green-lighting the signing of seemingly subpar players like Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson – as well some very questionable long-term contract offers for players like Cedric Soares, Pablo Mari, and Willian – Edu’s run as the head of football operations has been littered with equally confounding decisions.
The bottom line is that Arteta is tasked with securing short-term goals by winning games and claiming as many points as he possibly can, while Edu is meant to have his eye on the club’s mid to long-term goals.
Currently, there is no indication that either man has fulfilled their responsibilities and unless they turn things around together, then both men must suffer the same axe. If this current project fails then a new slate with fresh ideas and a new perspective is desperately needed.