When the draw was made and Arsenal avoided the three big-hitters on their proposed pathway to the Europa League final, there could be no excuses for failure. Slavia Prague, Villarreal and then whoever would follow. In many ways, the ideal route.
That opportunity has been squandered in embarrassing fashion. Aspirations of lifting European silverware dashed, a trophy that Arsenal have perhaps never felt more pressure to win than before.
Not because of quality of opposition left, nor the immediate entry as a top seed in the Champions League, but instead because it was their only route left into Europe.
Bowing out in whatever fashion from the competition would have been tough to swallow, as it always is. Knowing it spells the end of a 25-year spell without European football next season adds layers to the dismay. This is a low few supporters will ever have endured previously.
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Mikel Arteta’s awful short-term player planning at Arsenal damaged success
Leading that troupe of underperforming players is a man who in 18 months as a football manager has overseen the history books being rewritten weekly. Not in a positive sense.
Mikel Arteta bears the brunt of the criticsm this team has faced. He hasn’t shied away from it yet that does not excuse it. Throughout his time in north London mistakes have been remedied with further errors, culminating in Arsenal crashing out of all three competitions they entered and facing the likelihood of a mid-table finish in the Premier League.
Uncharted territory for the masses.
Looking back on his tenure so far, if he was called up to the boardroom to be relieved of his duties, there is little he could say in his defence to argue such a decision.
A panoply of questionable calls, bemusing statements and managerial mysteries, the cases for his sacking pile up. He will not lose his job just yet, but he very well deserves it, even if whether making that call will have any impact, detrimental or otherwise.
Among his most failed ventures, was developing for the short-term, not the long-term.