Mikel Arteta may not know if his players will play in Europe next season but he maintains that he has confidence in the way the club is preparing for the summer whatever the outcome of the FA Cup final with Chelsea.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa killed off our chances of qualifying for the Europa League with a seventh-place finish in the Premier League and means the club hierarchy will have to wait until 1 August for a clearer picture of our financial situation as we look ahead to a potential squad rebuild.
The uncertainty makes it a tense time for everyone associated with the club but Arteta is trying to keep cool about it. Since he took over as head coach, he’s readily preached the importance of patience and hard work.
Facing the media ahead of Sunday’s final league game of the season against Watford, Arteta was asked how the club was preparing for the summer with the FA Cup looming large, captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract situation unresolved and a clear and obvious need to recruit players in key positions on a tight budget.
“Just look at the amount of unpredictable things you are mentioning there,” he said.
“That’s what I said after the Liverpool game. I have to say that I am very confident with the way that the owners and the board are approaching this crucial time for us.
“We know that we don’t have any margin for error, everything has to be so planned and with a great process to put the team into the next level very quickly.
“Once we know a little bit more and we have more information about where we are, it will be easier to make those decisions.”
While Arteta’s unerring belief in his project is a soothing balm for supporters, he maintains it’s not blind optimism. Well versed in the club’s history and prestige having captained it during his playing days, he also understands why supporters are teetering on the edge of frustration at the end of a trying season.
“Listen, when I came here, I knew the challenge,” he reiterated. “To come in the middle of the season with all the issues that were happening and once you’re inside you can dig even deeper and realise and start to understand why things happen and it’s the consequences of many little aspects.
“I am so convinced that we are going to do it right. We need a little bit of time.
“The fans, when they get nervous, it’s normal. For me, it’s not that they get nervous, it’s frustration.
“This club and its history…it’s there. People are relating this bunch [of players] with [past] success, with joy, with emotion, with trophies. We cannot change that and we must not try to change that.
“One, it makes us [a] big [club]. We must only think like that, it’s the only way to think about this club and the future of it.
“If we’re all in the same place like that, we will make it. But we have to do it and then transmit it to the players, to every member of staff and then to the public and the fans. If we do that and we are together with that mindset, we will do it.”
In fact, the boss is more than happy to embrace the weight of history.
“Absolutely, the situation is what it is,” he said. “Let’s take it, let’s embrace it, let’s do something, let’s analyse why things happened and the things that are not working have to get changed.
“If not, we’re gonna get back to the same spot in six months or a year or two years. We have to be so determined and clear in our process in order to do that in the best possible way.
“And then, this beautiful games is the most unpredictable in the world. You can do everything right and everything wrong and it can still work in both directions. From our side, we have the responsibility to do it really well, at least as well as we all know [from the past].”