The club announced a £47m loss on Friday. How difficult is that going to make your summer transfer business?
We don’t know yet because we have so many things to do. We have people on loan, people finishing contracts. There was a lot going on in the last two transfer windows that had to be done the amount of things we had to do which was probably unprecedented and it will be again in the summer. So we are trying to put a plan together to see with the resources that we have to see how much we want to improve, how we’re going to do it and at what cost. That has so many factors attached to it. It’s not just about one thing or about just an amount, it’s about a project that time-wise, how to build it is going to face some effort from everybody. We know that and the challenging moments that we are facing at the moment are making it even harder.
Arsene Wenger clearly felt the financial pressure. Are you the same or can you separate the football and the finances?
I am because I want a sustainable club. We all want a club that can be run with our own resources. It’s great that we have a club with the support of our owners and we have had that in the summer when it was much needed because of everything that has happened with COVID and what has happened with the club in the last few years without the Champions League and the heat that that took. But our responsibility and everything that we are planning from the future is that the club can go back to being sustainable on it’s own and being all the time as strong as possible in every department. The financial part of it is crucial as well.
How important is European qualification to the amount of money you’re going to be able to spend this summer?
It’s another big important factor because that gives us the opportunity again to keep our club involved in Europe whether it’s in the Europa League or Champions League. We know the aim is all the time to be in the Champions League, but at the moment things are looking difficult, but possible. The financial package that is attached to it at the moment is really, really important.
It was a year ago this week that you caught COVID. How much has the pandemic affected your ability to do your job?
I could never imagine that when I got tested and I had the symptoms that – okay, I could be ill – but all these consequences this virus would have with all of us. It’s been really challenging and obviously having a first job, to do that, and being in the job for only three months, in normal conditions, to start to have a completely different context and framework to work has been really challenging but at the same time it’s made us much stronger. We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with out fans, with our staff. That’s going to pay some big tributes I think in the future when everything comes to normality and we’re able to work with what is needed, with a bit of stability, I think this project is going to go ‘bang!’ This is where we are. Sometimes it’s difficult to see it in moments now, but I’m sure where we’re going.
Will the experience make you a better manager?
Yes, because I think we have lived something that, not just young managers like me, even managers who have been in the game 30 years, I talk with them a lot, say ‘listen I don’t know how to manage that, this is a new situation for me, I never experienced that in my life’. It’s been really challenging for all of us and we are trying to navigate through this in the best possible way. Some with many more problems that we already inherited and some others that they were in a different stage of that project. But I think it has effected all of us.
Do you need to win this tie against Olympiacos to show that any progress has been made?
You need to win convince anybody that you are doing a good job, that the club is taking a good direction. If you are not inside every day and you know exactly what is going on at the club, the only way to convince people is to win. It doesn’t matter how well you play, if you deserve to win every single match, if you don’t win it I’m not going to convince you or any single fan or any single supporter that we are doing a good job. It’s only about wining and that’s the only way to convince people.
Aubameyang has nine goals in his last eight starts. Does it feel like we’ve got him back?
Yes. Obviously, there are much better stats, stats related to who he is and what he needs to bring to the team. But still I think he could score many more and he can do better in other aspects. He needs to keep having that mentality and he has that mentality. We need players to perform to the maximum. If Auba is in much better place the team will be in a much better place because at the end the games are decided in both boxes and what he can produce in the opponents boxes can have a great impact for our team.
Is the feeling that he is coming into form at the right time?
In big moments you need to have big players performing and making a difference because at the end it’s going to define where we finish in the season. It looks like in this moment he’s firing and he’s happy. Physically he’s in a good moment and he’s full of confidence. I think yeah it’s a good moment for the team and him.
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