The manager of Arsenal’s Academy has explained that the club still has some way to go before it can realistically expect the biggest honours in European club football
The Gunners currently sit 13th after recently rising from rock bottom – where they found themselves after their opening three games, in which they lost all three – scoring zero and conceding nine in the process, marking Arsenal’s worst start to a season for 118 years.
The former Germany international addressed comments made years ago by Arsenal’s former CEO Ivan Gazidis, when he claimed the Gunners would be able to compete with European powerhouses like Bayern Munich in three years time – that was back in 2013.
Eight years on and Arsenal find themselves further adrift now than where they were when those remarks were made, something that is clearly a great source of frustration for Mertesacker.
Speaking to The Beautiful Game podcast, Mertesacker explained: “Fans want to see the Premiership, they want to see the Champions League, they just go back on what was said at that time [by previous leadership].
“Now, there is some clarity provided on how the next 2-3 years will look like realistically, I think that is important as well because on the back of what was said by the previous leaders was ‘challenging with Bayern Munich, challenging to win Champions Leagues’ – we are so far away from that, and still the expectation is that.
“Someone needed to change that, make an effort going into the next period where you see other club’s overtaking us but we are here to put the energy in and provide excellence for other generations and for the squad that is here.”
The ex-Arsenal star was then pressed on whether he feels the current crop of players are good enough to secure a top-four finish this season, to which he responded, rather bluntly: “Probably not, my prime focus is on the next couple of games, but I am usually looking more long-term.
” Edu [technical director] needs to look more long-term – we need to build a foundation for the next three to four years, Edu lives in 3-4 year cycles, me being the academy head I live in ten year cycles now.
” Mikel [Arteta] needs to address the here and now, the next games are the most important as a football club.”
Arsenal’s next league game comes in the form of the north London derby against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur as Arteta’s men to look to make it three wins in a row.