MIKEL ARTETA has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson helped fire Arsenal’s title charge.
The Gunners boss says he was inspired by Fergie’s “brutal honesty” when the Scottish legend was Manchester United manager.
Arsenal’s 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford in 2011 even kick-started Arteta’s own Emirates career.
The Spaniard played for Everton and Arsenal when Fergie won five of his 13 Prem titles at United.
Arteta said: “What really captured me was his presence, his charisma and the way he talked. How honest and brutal he was about certain opinions he had about players and the game.
“I had a few conversations, not formally, but with people around him and it was more listening than talking.”
Arteta joined the Gunners just three days after Arsene Wenger’s side were blitzed at Old Trafford on August 28, 2011 — their biggest loss to United.
He said: “The circumstances are sometimes necessary for someone to be given the opportunity.
“Unfortunately it had to be the 8-2 because it was a big result.
“I don’t think it was just the result that got me here, but it probably helped. After that, the rest is history.”
After working as Pep Guardiola’s No 2 at Manchester City, Arteta became Arsenal boss in December 2019, landing the FA Cup in his very first season.
Since then, he has shown Fergie-style ruthlessness in booting out big stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil from the Emirates.
And Arteta has transformed the Gunners into title challengers, with a five-point lead at the top ahead of today’s key clash with United.
It will be the first time the Red Devils, revitalised by Dutch boss Erik ten Hag, have met Arsenal with so much at stake since the days of Fergie.
The two clubs shared seven Premier League trophies between them from 1998-2004 and the Scot riled his old rival, then Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, with his 2003 ‘squeaky bum time’ taunt.
And Arteta insists his side, boosted by the £21million signing of Brighton striker Leandro Trossard, have the style and steel of Wenger’s 2004 Invincibles.
He added: “Having those qualities, that balance in the squad is necessary.
“To have the mentality and capacity to control emotions required to play on the big stage is very necessary.
“The physical aspect is necessary, too.
“Without that you cannot compete over 11 months in the conditions in which we work.
“We haven’t been in a title race for many years.
“Words mean absolutely nothing, we have to do it on the pitch.”