Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he was “shocked” by the atmosphere inside The Emirates when he arrived last December.
The former Gunners midfielder replaced Unai Emery, who had lasted just 18 months after replacing Arsene Wenger.
The atmosphere around the ground had become toxic after a seven-match winless run finally saw Emery sacked.
Arteta has admitted he was surprised by the discord that had grown between the fans and the team.
The former Man City assistant though is trying to put the building blocks in place slowly but surely.
“You cannot build something new [quickly], when something has been damaged and hurt badly, that you can see a big split between even our own fans and the team,” he told Arsenal’s official website. “When you were in that stadium 10 months ago, I was shocked.
“You have to rebuild that [bond]. In order to do that you have to build some foundations, and afterwards start a process. You have to prioritise that process at the start, and where you are going to get to.
“To do that you need some pieces that have to fill in there, and you have to start to create a puzzle and try to manage it because there will be bad moments and you don’t want to break it.
Arteta: We need the fans back
“All the time you have to be very alert because it takes very little to break what you are building.”
Arteta’s attempts to get the fans back on side has not been helped by an empty Emirates. The Premier League has been played behind closed doors ever since they initially shut down last March when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
“In our case, when you try to build a new project you need to engage the fans with the team. They have to see live what the team is transmitting. It is completely different on the TV, you are not able to do that,” added the 38-year-old.
“Without creating that chemistry between players and fans, for them to believe, for them to see live what we are trying to do, it is complicated.
“We need that. The players have to feel, ‘Wow, these guys are really behind us, they are really pushing, they are liking what we are trying to do… I feel more motivated, more engaged, I want to participate’ – and we are lacking that.”