Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has responded to Roy Keane’s furious criticism of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the aftermath of his side’s win over Manchester United at the weekend. In his post-match interview after scoring the only goal of the game at Old Trafford in Arsenal’s Premier League triumph, Aubameyang referred to Arteta as ‘Mikel’.
And ex-United midfielder Keane said on Sky Sports: “They didn’t show him respect when they called him by his name Mikel. He is the manager, the boss, the gaffer. That’s respect. Not Mikel.”
But Arteta insists he has no problem with his players calling him by his first name rather than by something more formal.
The Spanish coach is confident that there is an abundance of respect between himself and his players and so does not take being called ‘Mikel’ as a slant at his authority.
“I was told that Roy mentioned that,” Arteta said ahead of his side’s Europa League clash with Molde at the Emirates (8pm kick-off tonight).
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“I give them the choice to call me whatever they feel comfortable with. With some of them obviously I shared a dressing room.
“For me, I don’t feel disrespected. I understand why he is saying that as a player, but the way I feel with them – and I feel so close with them, with some of them I played with – so for me it is not an issue and it is not the way I would feel respected or disrespected.
“It is something that before I joined I was a bit concerned with, and at the moment I am not. Because I think it is not just something that has to come from me.
“It is something that both parties have to understand, respect and go about the relationship in the same way. To be fair they made it really, really easy for me in that sense.
“Obviously the feelings I have for them won’t change whether I am on one side or the other, because at the end we are part of the same thing. But it has not been something difficult to manage.
“I leave them the choice. There are people at the training ground who call me boss or coach. The French guys call me coach. It depends. It’s not an issue for me.”
And Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock, sat alongside Arteta, declared that Arteta is certainly held in high regard within the changing room.
The 38-year-old led the Gunners to an FA Cup triumph last season before winning the Community Shield this term against Liverpool.
Willock said: “We all really, really respect the manager. What he has done in the ten months he has been here has been mind blowing.
“We talk about it in the changing rooms and there’s never a lack of respect.”
Arteta, meanwhile, wants to see more from Willock following his brilliant display in the Europa League win over Dundalk last week.
The 21-year-old midfielder scored one and set up another in a 3-0 win at the Emirates and Arteta continued: “I told my message to Joe. We considered a few options for him but he’s a player I really like.
“He has some special qualities that only he has in this squad, and that we have to use.
“I think you could see the last game he showed what he can do, to play in those pockets and to make runs into certain areas.
“He’s got the ability to make the box, his physicality and he’s grown in his understanding of the game and areas where he needs to be involved to affect the game. It’s growing all the time.
“I’m really happy with the way he’s evolving, he’s doing everything he can, so the fact he’s not playing more is because of the competition in those areas.”
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