Mikel Arteta says he is ready to take “bullets” for his players and that he remains 100 percent confident he is the man to turn things around at Arsenal.
Pressure has been growing on the Gunners boss following the club’s worst start to a league season since 1974 and four successive home defeats in the top flight.
Arsenal host Southampton on Wednesday night sitting 15th in the Premier League and just five points above the relegation zone.
Arteta accepts that results have not been good enough and understands the criticism that has been coming his way.
But he has issued a rallying cry to his players, calling for them to stand up and be brave in the face of such scrutiny, and says he is ready to put his chest out and take anything that comes his way.
“I feel the pressure all the time,” said Arteta. “When we had those [good] spells [last season], everything was not beautiful. In the last few months of last summer there were a lot of difficult moments, believe me. It wasn’t anything 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 right now and we have to face it.
“And we have to face it being brave, fighting and no-one giving up or anything because it is no time to hide, it’s time to put your face and your 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 out [and say] ‘hit me because you have the right to hit me because I’m not winning’.
“So what else can I do? Put my head down, work harder, and try to do things better and improve. It’s how we have to approach things in my opinion.”
When asked if he was the man who had to take the bullets rather than the players, Arteta added: “It’s natural, I accept it. It’s part of the job.
“When you are not getting results, at the end of the day it’s the manager who has the maximum responsibility.
“That’s why I accept them because you can say whatever you want to explain but in 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, hit me, guys.”
Arteta has received the backing of Arsenal’s technical director Edu this week, who spoke about the need for stability at the club following a period of such dramatic change in recent years.
The Gunners’ boss says he “appreciated” the public show of support and was adamant he could get Arsenal back on track.
“Yes,” he said when asked if he was 100 percent confident he could turn things around.
“We all knew the bumps were coming. I think I said many times in this room, it’s how we deal with them, how strong we are to get through them, and sometimes when things get ugly it’s necessary to get brighter and better.
“Nobody likes to be in the situation that we’re in in the Premier League and it’s not good enough and it’s not acceptable. It’s not a quick fix but that does not mean that we’re accepting the situation, it’s the contrary.”