ANYONE who believes Mikel Arteta does not have the right character to make Arsenal great again has got him all wrong.
The Spaniard comes across as a gentle man and his pal Michael Flynn — manager of League Two Newport County — declared: “He’s the most humble person you could meet.”
Yet Flynn, who spent two years studying with Arteta as they worked towards their Uefa Pro Licence, insists there is also fire in his belly.
And he warns those who believe the Arsenal job is too much for Arteta, 37, should think again.
Flynn said: “He’s got a temper, make no mistake, and if he has to he’ll show it.
“Remember Arsene Wenger. Remember what they said about him when he became the Arsenal manager?
“He also came across as this moderate, reserved person — and look what he became, one of the greatest managers of all time.
“People, and especially the Arsenal players, should not be fooled by how Mikel comes across.
“Yes, he’s a kind man. He has time for everybody.
“But don’t confuse kindness with weakness and if there is one thing I know about him, he is not weak.
“Anything but. He can be as authoritative as anyone.
“I’ve seen him in action. Not just when we were studying together but when he and Pep Guardiola were down at our place for the fifth round of the FA Cup last season.
“When Mikel talks, people listen — and those people are some of the biggest names in world football right now at Manchester City.”
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Flynn and Arteta also did their Uefa training with Freddie Ljungberg, the stand-in coach who will vacate the Arsenal hotseat.
Also on that 2016 course at the Welsh FA’s Dragon Park in Newport were Thierry Henry and Jurgen Klopp’s No 2 Pep Lijnders.
All remain on a WhatsApp group and Flynn said: “You think of the football brains among that lot.
“We were always getting together, comparing notes, discussing every aspect of what we were learning.
“Mikel was always studying, anxious to learn more, always intent on dragging out every last detail from our lecturers, from his fellow students around him.
“But he’s not just interested in all things football — he’s intellectual.
“He was a top player himself and you could always tell he was going to be a top coach. Put it this way, Pep didn’t give him the job just because he speaks Spanish.
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“This is an articulate, ambitious, tough man we, who can hold a football conversation with anyone — including Pep, including Thierry.
“Yes, he’s a lovely man and one I’m proud to say is a friend but just because he’s a human being doesn’t mean he doesn’t have what it takes to be a great success.
“And I believe he will become that. Just ask the City players about how much they will miss him.”