Academy boss Per Mertesacker tells Arsenal fans not to expect Champions League football for up to THREE years… but insists supporters must ‘trust’ Mikel Arteta despite slow start
- Per Mertesacker has told Arsenal fans to ‘swallow disappointment’ at present
- The German says Arsenal may not play in the Champions League for a few years
- Ex-defender Mertesacker is currently the north London club’s academy manager
- He was responsible for promoting Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka at Arsenal
- The 36-year-old has told Arsenal fans to trust current manager Mikel Arteta
Per Mertesacker has told Arsenal fans to be prepared to ‘swallow disappointment’ and expect the club to be without Champions League football for ‘maybe two or three years’.
The German, who played for the Gunners between 2011 and 2018 before retiring, is currently working as the club’s academy director and has been crucial in promoting the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka to the Arsenal first-team.
Mertesacker has revealed he is impatient to get the club back to where it belongs, which he describes as challenging for trophies with the Premier League’s biggest clubs, but insists ‘that’s not the reality’ and claims Mikel Arteta needs time to implement his first-team plan.
Per Mertesacker has told Arsenal fans to not expect Champions League football for a few years
Mikel Arteta’s (left) Gunners are currently in the bottom half of the table after a slow start
When asked what state Arsenal are in at the moment, the 36-year-old told The Beautiful Game Podcast: ‘Massive transition, that’s what I would class it as.
‘I think it was clear when Arsene (Wenger) left (in 2018), the void that needed to be filled wouldn’t get sorted in a couple of seasons, or three to four years.
‘You always want the shortcut, you know, bang straight back into the Champions League, straight back into being successful. I think even myself, realising and working now with the academy, going more long-term developmental, I think we see kind of similar-ish traits in the first team, and I hope that Mikel gets the time that he needs.
‘I’m impatient. I want to be successful tomorrow, I want to go back in the Champions League tomorrow, I want to speak to people and say “listen, we have got the best club in the world who challenges for titles every single year.” That’s not the reality. I think the earlier we get on the train of we are in a big, big transition still (the better).’
Mertesacker (right) is Arsenal’s academy boss and helped bring Bukayo Saka (right) through
Arsenal began the current Premier League season terribly, with defeats in their first three matches to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City – all of them coming without the Gunners scoring a single goal.
Arteta’s side have recovered in recent weeks with slender victories over Norwich and Burnley, but face a crucial fortnight with north London rivals Tottenham coming to the Emirates Stadium this weekend before a trip to high-flying Brighton next week.
While Spanish head coach Arteta’s future has been under threat in recent weeks, Mertesacker has told Gunners supporters to ‘give him the trust’ so he can return Arsenal to the Champions League, a competition they have not played in since the spring of 2017.
‘To have sustainable success there needs to be some trust,’ Mertesacker added. ‘I’m all for trusting people in people. If it is Mikel Arteta, and I perceive him to be the right person, let’s give him the trust and the development squad that he can take to the next level that will achieve Champions League football, maybe in two or three years.
Mertesacker has told Gunners fans to trust Arteta (right) despite a poor start to the season
‘From a club person, that’s my take basically at the moment, because I’ve worked with Mikel very, very closely.
‘I know how much he wants it, I know his work ethic, I know how intense the squad works at the moment to get to a better level. I think we all have to swallow disappointment at the moment, which I’m keen to change, but the environments that we are going to deliver in the next years will be key for our success.
‘The stakes are very, very high, and I understand that there is a lot of criticism, but some people need to swallow that and try and grow with it, and Mikel is someone that does that.’