Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted his frustration over his side's failure to fulfill its potential, following the departure of several influential players over the past few seasons.
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 League Cup quarterfinal at Valley Parade.
The Frenchman has previously twice clinched the double for the north London club, in addition to becoming the first team to go unbeaten for a whole season in 2003-04. However, his plans to rebuild a team capable of competing for honors have been hampered by the departures of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, and Robin van Persie in recent seasons.
And the former Monaco boss lamented what could of been in an interview with FourFourTwo 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 fairplay 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."
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