Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta graciously congratulated Manchester City for winning the Premier League on Saturday, but there was no concealing his agony.
This was after his team had led the race for so long but lost form in the crucial run-in.
Eight points clear two months ago, Arsenal won only two of their last eight games, with defeat to Nottingham Forest handing the title to Pep Guardiola’s unstoppable side.
“It’s a really sad day. We fell short,” a grim-faced Arteta told reporters after the 1-0 loss at the City Ground.
“I congratulate Manchester City. They are the champions, they deserved to win. I apologise because we have generated that belief that we could do it, but we were unable to and that is my responsibility.
“Today we should have played much better. We gave them a goal.
“When you come to April and May, you need 24 players playing at their best, full of confidence and ready to go, and for many reasons we have not had that.”
Arteta, who used to work under Guardiola at Manchester City, has however achieved a remarkable turnaround in form for Arsenal, who are a comfortable second in the world’s toughest league.
They led the standings for 248 days this season: the most for any team who have then failed to win the Premier League.
“It has been an incredible journey for us over 10 months competing with Manchester City, being ahead of them for so long. We were so eager to go for something in sport and we didn’t reach it,” Arteta said.