It’s a tough reality, but it’s one we need to come to terms with because this rebuild is going to take time
Arsenal’s 3-1 win away at high-flying Leicester was very encouraging, as was the fighting spirit we showed to turn around the Benfica tie in dramatic fashion on Thursday night.
But we’ve seen false dawns too many times before, so it’s very important to keep our feet on the ground and come to terms with the fact our status as an elite club is over. At least for now anyway.
As it stands, we can’t hide from the fact Arsenal are a mid-table team looking to work their way back into the big time.
And the sooner we accept that reality, the easier it will be to get on board and support the club through what has been a tough recent period.
The Arsene Wenger era is long gone and it had arguably evaporated many years before he finally parted ways – nothing but a distant memory.
A legend of the club? Certainly. Do we love him? Of course. Does what Wenger did for the club really matter right now? Sadly not quite.
Things change quickly in football and the whole climate of the sport has moved on massively.
We aren’t a title challenging side, we haven’t been a top four side for four years now and we’re barely clinging on to hopes of qualifying for a Europa League spot.
Yet it’s as if we as Arsenal fans still think we have a God given right to be among the big hitters year in year out. We don’t.
Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of it for many years – fickle and overreactive about results, whether good or bad, criticising every minor detail and complaining that ‘we should be doing better because we’re Arsenal’ – but perhaps it’s time for us to rewire our thinking?
The reality is that the club has been run so poorly from top to bottom for such a long time that we are now fully in rebuild mode.
From management of the finances to recruitment of players and even the staff we’ve employed at the top end of the hierarchy, it’s been a shambles.
Yes, performances on the pitch aren’t at the level we all want yet, but there is no guarantee that changing manager every five minutes will work.
I’d rather see a distinct plan we commit to, rather than this merry go round hire and fire approach you see at Chelsea.
But things are starting to change under Arteta, admittedly it feels like a slow burner at times, but some of the signs are promising.
It’s not going to happen quickly, it’s not going to always be enjoyable, but we have to buckle in and embrace the positives of what Mikel Arteta is trying to do.
We all know the Willian situation has felt like a disaster (until this week) and Arteta’s continuous persistence in using the player has been baffling at times, while many of his tactical decisions have sometimes been questionable.
The Spaniard is certainly far from perfect, but it’s a work in progress and he’s learning all the time. So let’s hope both he and Edu will learn from the mistakes we’ve made.
And there is so much else the club has already done during Arteta’s tenure so far to take hope from.
The dead wood is gone. No more Mustafi, Kolasinac, Ozil, Sokratis et al. And hopefully more is on the way out in the summer.
Exciting Hale End youngsters such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe are performing brilliantly, while other potential future superstars like Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Magalhães are at the club – and here’s hoping we can sort the William Saliba situation out.
Some of our best players are still only in their early 20s, namely Kieran Tierney at 23 who is captain material in the making, and we’ve finally got our hands on that elusive powerhouse in central midfield in Thomas Partey.
You can see the building blocks are being put in place, but it takes a long, long time to reshape the entire structure and mentality of a club which has fallen into such bad habits on and off the pitch.
There are of course many factors to be wary of, such as the financial repercussions of missing out on European football this season.
But we need to hit the reset button and realign our expectations for now. That isn’t to say that Arsenal shouldn’t be performing better in every aspect than right now – of course they should.
Realistically though, we need some composure. We need to try and stop overreacting to every result, whether it be positive or negative, and perhaps we can fully start to judge Arteta at the end of next season.
Unless we implode beyond repair and there’s no choice but to get rid of the manager, we need to persevere and wait for the flower to blossom.
Give the guy a chance, he’s trying to overhaul so many things at the club and he cannot do it overnight.
If at the end of next season, there’s no real improvement, perhaps we can start to question the process.
Until then, let’s just support the players, support the team and maybe, just maybe, we will see something special happening in the next few years.