Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is frustrated by his side’s failure to fulfil their potential following the exits of several key players.
The Gunners’ hopes of ending a seven-year trophy drought suffered an embarrassing blow on Tuesday night when they fell to a shock defeat against League Two side Bradford City on penalties in the Capital One Cup quarter-final at Valley Parade.
The Frenchman has previously twice clinched the double for the north London club, who became the first and so far only team to go unbeaten for a whole Premier League season in 2003/04.
However, his plans to rebuild a team capable of competing for honours have been hampered by the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri in recent seasons.
And Wenger lamented what could have been in an interview with Four Four Two before Tuesday’s Cup exit against Phil Parkinson’s Bantams.
“My regret is that we already had a great team two or three years ago which could compete on four fronts,” he said.
“We just missed out in the Champions League against Barcelona, when we could have scored in the last minute and then we just missed out on the Premier League too.
“But you could feel the potential was there, and I thought, ‘Okay, let’s do this together’. Then the team split up, sometimes after five or six years work, it is frustrating, you have to start all over again.
“We have lost recent players earlier in their careers – to lose van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri and (Alex) Song in just two years, it is a massive amount of potential, of course you worry.”
Wenger, whose contract expires in 2014, has come under increasing pressure of late due to his self-sustained business model that is pioneered by chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
It helped the Gunners make the move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 and also gives Arsenal an advantage, with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations soon to be implemented.
Despite the oil-funded successes of Manchester City and Chelsea, Wenger is sticking to his guns.
“I am not saying I never made mistakes,” he said.
“I was fortunate to work for this club for 16 years and I hope I respected the transitions of this club. I feel fortunate, but I think somewhere as well I tried at least to pay the club back with the trust they had in me.”