Raul Sanllehi [far left] was instrumental in Mikel Arteta’s appointment as ‘first team coach’ (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal’s former head of football, Raul Sanllehi, says the club have made a ‘mistake’ in changing Mikel Arteta’s role at the Emirates to ‘manager’.

The Spaniard left the Gunners shortly after Arteta’s appointment in December 2019, with the club choosing to discard of Sanllehi during the pandemic.

But he was instrumental in Arteta’s appointment as ‘head coach’ to replace Unai Emery and the appointment was part of a new set-up at the club that Sanllehi had been working hard on for over 18 months.

He wanted a new, forward-thinking set-up that allowed a head coach to focus primarily on the first team, an academy coach in Per Mertesacker, a director of football in Edu and himself as head of football operations.

However, after Arteta guided the Gunners to an FA Cup victory in his first season in charge, he was rewarded with a name change that saw his role change.

Arteta was made ‘manager’ which gave him more influence over the direction of the club and decisions made across the board, rather than just control of the first team.

But Sanllehi says that was a ‘mistake’ and the decision ‘betrayed’ the club’s model.

Arteta is now ‘manager’ at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

‘They have betrayed the model a little bit now,’ he told the Athletic.

‘By going back to the manager at the top, that is a mistake, but that is their mistake. I would have not allowed that to happen. But that’s fine, it is working so far for them.

Earlier in the interview, he had put forward his belief that the first-team coach should focus solely on the first team.

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‘I do not agree when clubs call the first-team coach ‘the manager’,’ he said.

‘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.’


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