Mikel Arteta is facing fresh scrutiny as Arsenal manager following the Gunners’ exit from the Europa League on Thursday but sympathy is in short supply for the Spaniard from West Brom counterpart Sam Allardyce.
Arsenal’s semi-final elimination at the hands of Villarreal after a goalless draw in the return leg is another low moment in a forgettable past few months for the north London club, who currently sit ninth in the Premier League.
It seems likely they will miss out on European football next season for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign, and Albion can deepen the gloom around the Emirates Stadium while boosting their slim survival prospects on Sunday.
The pressure is growing on Arteta, in his first managerial job, and Allardyce, whose side sit 10 points adrift of safety with four games of the season to go, believes how the former midfielder responds will be key to his future.
Allardyce said: “Do I feely sorry for him? No, we don’t feel sorry for ourselves, we all feel the pressure, we all want to win.
“It’s difficult when you experience it for the first time and how he comes out of it will determine his career going forward.”
Allardyce, who has never before been relegated while at the helm of a Premier League club, added that Arteta’s backroom team need to rally around the former Manchester City assistant.
Allardyce added: “It’s how good his backroom staff is now, how well he’s lifted by what he or his staff believe in and continuing to plough forward irrespective of what criticism he may be getting.
“It’s a lonely job, it’s even lonelier when you’re facing the sort of criticism he’s facing at the moment and because it’s his first job that may have a deeper, underlying effect on him.
“But if he’s worth his salt he’ll use that in a positive way and come fighting back like we all have to do if we’re going to succeed.
“In the manager’s role we have to take the good with the bad and when the bad arrives we have to be able to cope with it. Hopefully he then gets better for it, learns by that experience and moves on.”