Was there any frustration on your part that something from above that you have no awareness of has destablised the group?
No, because each of us has a role at the football club and my role is very clear. I get involved in some things and I don’t get involved in other things. There are some people much better than me at doing that that we rely on and we trust. That’s the way the situation developed.
There have been some questions whether Arsenal and Tottenham’s performance on the pitch doesn’t warrant their being in this competition. What’s your reaction to that?
That we are one of the best clubs in the world. That we could not be any prouder to represent this club, its history and we totally understand the demands and the excellence that we have to be pursuing for.
Can you expand on why you say that?
Because it’s history and you cannot deny the history. That history is attached to results, it’s attached to certain way of doing things, to certain values, to representing those in the right manner, to have the amount of support that we have around the world. That’s not a coincidence, that’s been earned over years and years with merit to a lot of people that have been involved in the history of this football club.
Is there any concern about the reputational damage to the clubs that have been involved in this process?
Some damage has been done that’s for sure. Now it’s our job individually to try to rebuild that trust with everybody. First with our supporters and our fans, then with all the other clubs in the Premier League and then with all the other people and around the world.
Probably with more time we will be able to do that. The club will be able to explain a little bit more the processes that went into that decision. And hopefully, slowly, we’ll gain some of that territory back.
If the Super League had gone ahead as planned how comfortable would you have been managing Arsenal in those games?
I don’t know. I don’t know the format, I don’t know the league, I don’t know anything to do that. We can be in that position in the league, we are in a semi final of European competition. So you can look at it from different perspectives. But obviously trying to do our best as we always do.
What does it say about these people that they’ve been planning this behind closed doors for such a long time and that there has been no consultation with supporters?
It makes me think that something is happening behind closed doors that needs to be put in a common table to discuss the future of football and our industry.
What do you think that future should look like?
I don’t know I’m not an expert, I’m not on that table. But for sure when that happens and there is that separation, something has to be done. Because there is a reason for it for sure.
Do you think there is going to be an issue now on the pitch with other teams potentially raising their game against the big 6?
I don’t know. I hope we don’t, and I would like everybody to understand that the players, they weren’t involved in it, and they don’t have to be the ones playing the price for it. I don’t think it’s fair on them. But it’s something that we cannot control. It’s just my opinion, it’s the way I would try to approach the situation with my players if we were confronting the situation from the other end. But I don’t know what will happen.
Would you be surprised if Everton raised their performance levels and will you prepare the players for that to happen?
I don’t know what will happen. It’s completely new and unprecedented what will happen. We will be prepared and we will do our best possible to react to the situation.
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Do you find this embarrassing personally?
It’s been very challenging, and I would say that it puts us on the back foot again. So everything that we’ve been through with months and all the territory that we want we feel like we’ve gone back a little bit. My biggest feeling and my biggest concern now is to get the fans back to watch the team. I’m feeling proud of it, get them in the stadium, get them close to them and start to create that energy.
Because that’s really what has been missing almost since I joined because in two months we had this pandemic and it’s the most necessary thing that the team needs at the moment.