How would you describe this season in one word orphrase?
Extraordinarily challenging, but incredibly stimulating and I would say three dots, then big opportunity coming up.
You’ve said the external perception of Arsenal’s season has been different from how you’ve seen it. How do you think it should be perceived externally?
Well externally I think every supporter should be aiming for us to be lifting trophies. And when that’s not the case, because that’s their dream, they’re not going to be happy and they’re going to be disappointed. But I think they know what has been going on and it’s not today, it’s not from yesterday, it’s not from last year. We know what’s going on, we know where we were, but that’s the past. Where we can be, that’s the future, and I will be focusing on there.
What have you learnt the most about yourself this season?
That there are a lot of things that you cannot control, that I’m extremely proud to work with the people I have next to me, that this club is even bigger than I thought and even better than I thought. And that I am prepared to do anything that it takes to give the club the most success, the most joy, and a feeling of pertinence and a feeling of being proud of what we are trying to do. I won’t stop until I do that.
What’s been the best thing this season and on the other side what’s been the most frustrating thing?
The best thing has been to keep staff, employees and everybody together when you are not winning. In these circumstances when there are so many people, some inside and some outside that are trying to hurt. To keep them together, block that and stay strong I think that’s some achievement because normally when that happens, that cracks and then everything falls and it didn’t.
Are the people inside that were trying to hurt it still there?
If I were a player and you were trying to persuade me why I would want to play for Arsenal next season what would you say?
I need an hour to do that. But I think I could convince them and we have been able to convince them to come here instead of someone else. I think just looking at this badge, the history and who we are, that should be enough. But if they need something else we are prepared to do something.
How important is it to you personally to get all your transfer business andcontractstuff done early this summer?
That would be ideal for everything as early as possible, to have all the players that we know they are going to continue here on the first day of pre-season. But it’s not going to happen. We have the Euros and everything is going to be delayed. There are that many things to be done it’s going to take time. But we know how key it can be. What we don’t want is to have the situation we had last year.
How has this season changed you as a person?
I have always been very competitive. I just try to be facing the challenge that it comes and not hiding from it. I know how big the task is. I know how big and how good the level is in this league and still what the expectations are with us. We have to manage that and to manage that is probably the hardest thing.
As well it shows that with the right determination, with the right decisions, the potential that we have it’s huge. And then the biggest question mark is the time frame. How long does it take you to get where you want to go?
When you signWillianhe said you told him you wanted to be winning the Champions League in three years. Do you regret saying that now? What needs to change for that ambition to become a reality?
There cannot be any other ambition at this football club, it cannot be. If you don’t have that you can’t achieve it. There is only one winner in the Champions League and there is only one winner in the Premier League. The rest of the teams have failed. For any of the other teams finishing second or third is not a big achievement.
Now the perception is different, now it’s an achievement to be third or fourth in this league. Would the fans agree with that? Probably no, but for the people internally that are working every day and knows the standards that have been set it’s so different.
Last year with 61, 62 points you were 5th in the league and almost in the Champions League. This season you won’t be there and next season you won’t be there because the level is increasing all of the time.
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Do you think your squad will look so different next season that those ambitions start to become a reality?
I can control what we can do I cannot control what the other teams will do to go to another level again. But we have to focus on what we can do to get a better squad, play better, compete better and obviously finish better than we’ve done this season.
There were some incidents with Spurs fans fighting with stewards this week. Do you have any fears that something similar might happen at the Emirates this weekend?
I don’t know I’ve never seen an incident with Arsenal fans. I really hope that none of that happens because it’s never happened here.