MIKEL ARTETA joined a 'sinking ship' when he took over as Arsenal manager, claims Joe Cole.
And the former England midfielder reckons the Spanish boss needs more help from Edu to sort out the rebuild project.
Arteta replaced Unai Emery at the Emirates in December 2019 and finished last season eighth while winning the FA Cup.
But this term, with the club languishing ninth in the Premier League and no silverware, it has been a miserable campaign that is effectively over already.
Arsenal look on course for a first season out of Europe since 1995-96.
But Cole has some sympathy for Arteta and called on Edu, director of football and transfer chief, to do more.
He told BT Sport: "I feel for Mikel in the sense that he joined a sinking ship, in my opinion.
"The club had been on a steady decline, I think he’s a talented coach.
"It’s a massive job to take as your first job, Arsenal Football Club, but then you’ve also got to look at Edu bringing the players in.
"Whoever is bringing the players through the door, whoever it may be.
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"Mikel needs to take some responsibility and I hope he’s doing that privately when he’s doing his appraisal, but this is where they’re at now, Arsenal, and the fans need to understand that.
"The bright spark is that they have some of the best young players in Smith Rowe, Martinelli and Saka."
Since Arteta's arrival, the incomings at the Emirates are Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, Willian, Gabriel Magalhaes, Runar Alex Runarsson and Thomas Partey as well as loanees Mat Ryan, Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard.
Other than Odegaard at times, none have really set Arsenal alight with any consistent form.
With this season already written off by many Gunners supporters, attention is turning to summer recruitment – and exits.
Hector Bellerin is expected to leave, as are Lucas Torreira, Sead Kolasinac, Ainsley Maintland-Niles and Matteo Guendouzi.
And Arteta has called on Stan Kroenke and the board to back him in the transfer market with funds for new signings.
Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard, Eduardo Camavinga, Yves Bissouma, Joachim Andersen, Max Aarons have all been linked with moves in recent weeks.
Owner Kroenke and technical director Edu remain convinced Arteta is the right man to lead the club back to the big time.
But if the team is still mid-table by the end of the year then Arteta will be replaced.
Last Thursday’s Europa League semi-final exit to Villarreal leaves Arsenal staring at a worrying financial situation after reporting a £47.8million annual loss in March.
Yet as revealed by SunSport, Kroenke will still sanction the signing of two or three big players this summer as part of a campaign to win over the fans protesting against his continued ownership.
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