LONDON • Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has said he did not get enough time to transform the London giants, who were on a "downward slope" when he was appointed, France Football magazine reported on Monday.
He had 18 months at the Emirates Stadium after a two-year stint with Paris Saint-Germain. That followed his spell with Sevilla, where he led the Spanish club to a hat-trick of Europa League titles.
"Arsenal had been on a downward slope for two years when I joined them," said the 48-year-old, who was sacked last November after a run of seven games in all competitions without a win.
"We stopped the rot and took the club to the Europa League final (a 4-1 loss to Chelsea) and took fifth place in the Premier League.
"That season we had qualification for the Champions League in our own hands but it all went wrong.
"We lost our four captains (Laurent) Koscielny, (Petr) Cech, (Aaron) Ramsey and (Nacho) Monreal and we really missed them.
"Some of our top players didn't have the right attitude and were asking for more than they were giving.
"I needed more time to manage to transform this club, into the new Arsenal I had been hoping to build."
Arsenal are 10 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea (41) and it is some gap to make up over the next 13 games. But new manager Mikel Arteta is convinced the Champions League remains within their grasp.
"At the moment we are far from it but there are a lot of games to play," he said. "It is very tight.
"Everybody is giving points away. It will depend on us. If we are able to put three or four wins in a row, we will be much closer."
Their cause would be improved, albeit very slightly, with three points at home to Newcastle.
But it might be a tough ask on Sunday against the Magpies, who are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions, and with Arteta winning just three games since he took over in December. Playmaker Mesut Ozil, however, says the team have improved thanks to the 37-year-old's fresh tactical approach.
"It's just two months that Mikel has been here and we have improved a lot tactically," said the German. "Everyone knows in which position they have to play or how (he) wants to attack or make a lot of pressure on the opposite team.
"We know it is a hard season for us but we want to win games to take the points to be maybe at the end of the season in the top four. Our goal is to be in the Champions League."
In terms of his own future, Ozil is unsure what will happen when his contract expires next year.
"I don't know what will happen because I can't see the future," he said. "What I can do is give everything for the team, for myself, to be successful and let's see what happens." AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE,
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS