How much has the West Brom win shake off the Europa League disappointment?
Obviously winning helps and it was our duty to get the points that we needed at home, and to try to finish the season as strong as possible after the disappointment that we had.
What changes are needed this summer?
We have already had an incredible amount of changes at the club over the past year or so, more than ever. We are looking to improve and be much closer than where we are at the moment. In order to do that there are certain things that we have to improve.
What’s the next step?
Now it is how we evolve, there are a lot of things that had to be done and they have been done, a lot of changes to make and a lot of them have been made. Now it is time to evolve. To evolve you to have to take things so that when they are a little more settled and established, take them to the next level.
Would you say the team have made progression this season?
We have made progress in many areas, I would say performance included, and that is supported by many factors that we have looked at. Results-wise, to be where we want to be, it has to be improved.
Would you say Chelsea are the biggest test in the league?
Well probably they’ve been the best team in the league in the last few months, what Thomas has been able to do since he arrived has been exceptional. He put the team in two finals, the way the team is looking, how solid they are defensively as well, how composed and regular they have been in their performance has been excellent.
Whata are you expecting in terms of the latest team news?
We have to see today, there were some issues over the weekend again. We are playing every three days and there is no time to train yet, today is the first day so we will have to wait and see. Yes some injuries, yes.
Anybody absolutely ruled out for the Chelsea game?
Well the situation with David [Luiz] is that he is not yet recovered, we will see how he does in the next few weeks. The rest are still in contention but we will have to see today how they come.
What do you want from your team in the final three games?
I think it is the pride in the shirt that we wear, and that we want to win. Winning is going to put us in a much better position in the table, which is going to make us… the chance to finish where is mathematically possible, but it doesn’t depend on us at the moment.
How do you want to evolve your side?
That we have to do better, we have to be much more consistent, we have to win more games. In order to do that there are certain things that have to improve.
On top of that list would be what?
We will see what happens in the summer.
Will it be better that you have more days to coach the players next season?
I think that having a pre-season is going to be really helpful because we haven’t had any time to work together yet, since we arrived. But after that, let’s see where we finish next season and the amount of games that we have to play. But obviously, in terms of game preparation and time to coach them, it’s much better to be in that position rather than not having any time to prepare between games.
Are you expecting a lot of players to leave?
There are so many things to do because we already have a lot of players on loan and a lot of players with contracts still that we need to sort. It will depend what happens with a lot of those players and what we are able to recruit to improve the team, that is going to determine where we are.
Are the plans already underway?
We’ve been sitting down the whole year. We’ve been in constant communication and things will change, some things will stick to the plan that we already had and some other things will come out. But we sit down very, very regularly to talk about those things.
So you have a plan about this summer but it’s just about implementing the plan to where you want to be?
Are you upset with the criticism from former players over the past week?
I think everybody is entitled to give their opinions and when they have the chance to do that, they have to say what they feel.
Does it upset you?
Again, it’s nothing for me to say. I cannot control that. If you ask me what I would like to have around the team and around everything that is related to the football club, is that we have the unity and stability to work. But if it’s not the case, it’s nothing that I can do.
What’s your message to those fans who are doubting you after this season?
They are entitled to their opinions. The only way I can prove that is by having a team that performs on the pitch and makes them proud. That’s the only thing that I can do. The only thing I can be judged on is do I create the necessary environment for a top, elite team to compete at the higher level and get everybody in the condition to do their best? And after that, do I get the best out of the players that I have? The maximum, whatever the level is, do I get the best out of that? This is how I judge myself and at the end, in the outside world, how I am going to be judged is just with results, nothing else. What we’ve done good before, in the past, in the process… it’s irrelevant. It’s only what you get from that result when you are on that pitch.
Is there a lot of optimism going forward about building your team around these young players?
Absolutely. There’s great potential with them, they’ve shown that this season. They are ready to take responsibility in important moments. They have the level to do it, they have the hunger to do it and they have the right senior players around them to help them as well. It’s about how we click and how we are consistent. Because we’ve shown that on the day we can compete and beat the top teams but through 38 games, we haven’t done it. Through the Europa League, we have done it to the point that we are so close to getting to that final, but in 38 games that’s the duty that we have and the challenge ahead of us: to compete with the big teams in this league.
What is your message to the fans for when they return to Emirates Stadium?
That we can’t wait to have them back in the stadium, with the whole stadium or whatever the capacity that we’re allowed to have in the stadium for the last game. It’s something that we’ve missed in this process to have them together, to feel what the team wants to do and create that chemistry and get them closer to what we’re trying to do.
What are your plans for pre-season?
We are trying to finalise everything, with the Covid world, it’s been a real challenge to get any games or pre-season tour sorted out, but hopefully in the next week that will be confirmed and we can announce that, but this is what we’re trying to do. Obviously the Euros is going to condition the return dates of the players in relation to what they do in the tournament, so there’s still some question marks.
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What do you make of Jack Wilshere’s comment that the club needs more Arsenal people?
I think it’s very important to have people who have been here and have experience here and are well respected here. We have a lot of them as well around the training ground, at the stadium, so I don’t know if Jack is referring more to the type of people or players, or just people that recognise the identity of the club.
Will you have to pay off some more contracts in the summer?
I don’t know where the summer will take us. I think every situation will be different and hopefully we are not in that position anymore.
Will playes have to leave before you can sign players?
I don’t think it’s completely like that, but it will restrict and alter some plans in relation to what happens with one or two.