Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has called on his squad to take the bullets as they continue to receive heavy criticisms for what has been a disappointing season thus far.
He went on to vow that he would lead by example in accepting the criticisms. Arsenal have made their worst start in the Premier League since 1974.
The 1 nil loss at home to Burnley on Sunday ensured that they had lost 4 consecutive league home games for the first time in 61 years, and sit just 5 points above the relegation zone in 15th.
This wasn’t envisaged after Mikel Arteta and his men won the FA Cup in his first season in charge.
Regardless, he has urged his squad to be up and doing when they host a high flying Southampton side in the Premier League on Wednesday.
“I feel the pressure all the time,” he said. “When we had those [good] spells, everything has not been beautiful. In the last few months of last summer there were a lot of difficult moments, believe me. It wasn’t everything nice and easy and enjoyable.
“But obviously when you are winning you create a different mood and then the pressure once you win is to win again. And the pressure is always going to exist.
“I prefer that pressure when you are always thinking about winning and going into the next trophy. But this is our reality now and we have to face it. We have to face it being brave, fighting and no-one giving up or anything because it is no time to hide. It is time to put your face and body on the line.
“At the moment, I’m sorry, but we have to take the bullets. We are not winning football matches and you have to put your chest there and hit me, because you have the right to hit me because I am not winning. What else can I do? Put me head down, work harder and try to do things better and improve. It is how we have to approach things in my opinion.
“It is natural [criticism comes to the manager], I accept it, it is part of the job. When you are not getting results at the end of the day, it is the manager who has the maximum responsibility to deal with it. That’s why I accept it.
“You can say whatever you want to explain but at the end you have to win football matches and this club is too big to accept this many losses in the last weeks. So my chest is here and hit me guys.”
Meanwhile, the technical director of the club Edu has publicly defended Mikel Arteta for the job he has done.
He noted that the 38-year-old understood the magnitude of the task at hand after he was hired to replace Unai Emery who was sacked in November.
“What I know, and we all knew, when I took the job here is that this wasn’t a quick fix at all,” he added.
“I want to think that we are in a blip. The way we are losing the football matches makes me believe that, but we need to start to win because if not you start dropping and dropping in the table. Obviously that is not the situation we want to be in.”