As he starts his inquest into Arsenal’s difficult campaign, Mikel Arteta admits he’s made mistakes.
After winning the FA Cup in August, just eight months after taking charge at the Emirates, the Spaniard claimed that the Gunners were capable of winning titles.
While the addition of the Community Shield ensured optimism was carried into his first full season, Arsenal’s form quickly tailed off before Christmas to the point we were looking over our shoulders at the relegation zone.
While the first team squad has rallied since the turn of the year, our erratic home form has proved costly both on the domestic front and in Europe. While there’s still an outside chance the Gunners could qualify for the inaugural Europa Conference League, realistically, we won’t qualify for a UEFA competition for the first time since the mid-nineties.
Ahead of Wednesday’s penultimate game of the season at Crystal Palace, Arteta said: “I want to reflect in the next week or so when we finish, but I’m sure that I’ve done a lot of things wrong, 100 per cent I can tell you now before going through it.
“So how am I going to make much better decisions, get the best out of these players, out of this football club and the resources that we have.
“I have spent a lot of time and effort identifying critical points to change, then how those changes are going to be made [and] in what timeframe we can do them. I want to spend time building, creating and with all the foundations that we have in place now, evolve the team, the club, everything, the way we want to do it.
“I want a pre-season where we can work with the players and create. I am a really creative person, I want to create and evolve and a lot of time since I came here, it’s been to determine and make some very, very difficult decisions where I’ve had to undo [what’s gone on before].
“I want to do more, more, more and more because the capacity that we have to do it is incredible. I’m so excited about that. I see that moment where there’s a lot of change to be a big opportunity for our future.”
Put to him, somewhat hyperbolically, that he’s a footballing Picasso, Arteta responded: “I’m not saying that. I’m saying that I love to create.
“There are a lot of good things we’ve done since we changed many things, but there is still a lot to do, a lot to catch up but the potential is incredible.
“I can see the ambition from the club first and when I can see that type of ambition we have an incredible margin to achieve what we want.”
You certainly can’t fault the manager’s enthusiasm. In the coming weeks and months, he has to turn that energy into something tangible. If he doesn’t, then we all know that football has a canny habit of pulling the rug out from under you.