Mikel Arteta admits that Arsenal are a long way from competing with the biggest clubs at home and abroad but he’s not shying away from what he believes is a long-term project to restore the club to the top of the game.
Starved of Champions League football for the last couple of seasons, without a league title since 2004 and currently, 42 points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool, the club and its supporters are experiencing a low point that the new boss is desperate to arrest.
He’s just well aware that the underlying issues are going to take some time to sort.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports ahead of Sunday’s game with Newcastle, he said: “It has to be a long-term project. In the short-term we cannot achieve all the things that this club needs.
“It wants to fight now with the top teams in this country and in Europe, but it is not possible.
“We are very far behind at the moment and everything shows how far behind we are.
“We need to make that gap shorter and shorter. But it’s going to take a lot of right decisions and a great amount of energy and commitment.”
Arteta isn’t shying away from the huge responsibility even though he’s never held a head coach role before.
The 37-year-old seems very pleased that he’s been able to lean on old mentor Arsene Wenger for a bit of support along the way.
“He has been very supportive,” he said. “I had a very good relationship with him. He’s a very calm person, very reflective and very, very intelligent.
“I learned a lot with him as a player about how he managed people, the love and respect that he felt for the game, his values, the type of game he wanted to play and the messages that he used to send to us as well.”
After a breathless first seven weeks at the Emirates, Arteta also noted that he’s putting in similar hours as he did at City under Pep Guardiola but that the pressure of being the main man is another level.
“I was putting in the same amount of hours for the last four years at City, for sure,” he said. “But the decision-making all the time and the responsibility you feel to really lift the players and transmit the energy you need to them, that’s the real difference.
“It’s all-consuming and I am adapting to it. But I am happy with how it’s going so far.”