Mikel Arteta has spoken glowingly about the impact of David Moyes on his career, rejecting any idea that the West Ham manager is out of step with the modern era.
West Ham travel to Arsenal on Saturday in a reunion for Arteta and the man under whom he spent six and a half years as a player at Everton. Moyes signed him from Real Sociedad in January 2005 and the pair have remained close, speaking regularly even in the early days of Arteta’s first managerial job at the Emirates. Although Moyes has had a mixed time since leaving Manchester United in 2014, it would be wrong to judge him on a lack of success in succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson, according to Arteta.
“I admire the person, who he is, his values, how he deals with people, how he treated the players when were there,” Arteta said when asked about the attributes in Moyes that had influenced him. “How well he deals with creating a culture around a club, a chemistry between the players and the belief that we could do something as a team.
“He works really hard. He is extremely demanding; he’s got character, Scottish character that is impulsive, and I really enjoyed my time under him. Obviously the Manchester United situation, I think what happened there was very harsh on him. I know how he is as a manager and my opinion hasn’t changed at all. I spoke with him a few times [since taking over at Arsenal]. He has always been very supportive. He has great belief in me and we maintain a really good relationship.”
Moyes tends, wearyingly, to be bracketed among managers whose time has passed. But there are signs the 56-year-old is overseeing an upturn in his second spell at relegation-threatened West Ham and Arteta – whose assistant, Steve Round, is a former No 2 to Moyes – defended him against such charges.
“He is always trying to evolve, always trying to get the latest thing to his players and his club,” he said. “He’s not someone who sits down and says: ‘I used to do things like this 20 years ago, and I am still going to do things like this.’ If he does things he used to do 20 years ago it’s because he is fully convinced it is the right thing to do.”
One old acquaintance Arteta will not be facing is Jack Wilshere, a teammate for five years at Arsenal. Wilshere has not played since October because of a groin injury, the latest among a litany of setbacks that have ruined a potentially stellar career.
“He could have been phenomenal,” Arteta said. “It’s very sad with Jack. When I joined here and watched him every day in training, you would say he could be one of the best midfielders. He always had something; then he is starting to build again a career and then again another injury, again another setback. I was very impressed with how strong he was mentally.”
Should Arsenal prevail on Saturday it will be the first time since February 2019 that they will have won three straight league games, inevitably piquing optimism that a top-four place is possible.
“When we were in December nobody talked about the Champions League,” Arteta said. “It was an impossible thing and now everybody talks like: ‘Yeah, we have to get [there].’ Let’s go game by game.”