Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal fans to "trust us" as he looks to maintain his young team's evolution next season.
The Gunners suffered a cataclysmic collapse after their shock defeat in the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City at Wembley, winning only two of the last 11 Premier League games to finish fourth after yesterday's 2-2 draw at Fulham.
With FA Cup winners Manchester City having claimed the third automatic UEFA Champions League berth, Arsenal must now come through a play-off in August to take their place among Europe's elite for what would be a 15th consecutive campaign under Wenger.
While there is now likely to be plenty of movement in both directions at the Emirates Stadium over the coming weeks, Wenger called for the supporters who chanted "spend some money" as he walked off the pitch at Craven Cottage not to lose faith in his long-term vision for sustained success.
"They need to trust us because the club is in a strong position and we have a strong basis [of the team]," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online. "I share their disappointment and it is completely understandable because a few weeks ago we were in a position to win the league and in the end we play for qualifying in the Champions League. That is a massive disappointment.
"Whether we deserve [fourth place] or not, it is the points which count. The team has given a lot this year, has a strong basis and we want to improve that. We will be active and busy [in the summer] certainly and will try to make the right decisions. We have to take it on the chin and come back stronger next season."
Transfer action expected to take place
As well as bringing in some experienced cover - most likely in defence, with Blackburn Rovers centre-back Christopher Samba a long-term target - Wenger will now also jettison some squad players who have failed to step up when given the chance. Brazil midfielder Denilson has already declared his intention to leave, while Nicklas Bendtner's father claims the Denmark striker is "100 per cent open now to a change of clubs".
Time also appears up for veteran goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, Emmanuel Eboue, Tomas Rosicky, Sebastien Squillaci, Carlos Vela and perhaps even the inconsistent Andrey Arshavin, while left-back Gael Clichy is a reported target for Inter Milan. Wenger must also decide whether to bring youngsters back into the senior squad like Henri Lansbury, who helped Norwich win promotion, and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, loaned to Cardiff City, or allow them to move on.
The Gunners manager, though, will also continue to keep one eye on the future with expected signings of Southampton's starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Charlton Athletic left-back Carl Jenkinson. Even though pundits and supporters alike are calling for major changes, Wenger remains defiant it is only minor adjustments which are needed to finally end what would be a seven-year trophy drought in 2012.
"We have learned that we have the quality, despite what everybody is saying, but of course we need to gain some strength in some areas of the team," Wenger told reporters. "Mentally as well I hope the team has learned a lot this season because we could not cope with the number of games nor with the pressure in important moments of the season.
"I felt they lost confidence and you can see that there has not been the same sharpness on the mental front. However, this was also the season we produced the best games ever. We had the technical quality to win the league, but certainly not the defensive solidity to do it. We just had problems to deal with the disappointments and in the end it was difficult to get over the line."