Long expected given Arsenal’s recent run of poor form, Unai Emery’s dismissal as Arsenal manager was confirmed earlier today. The decision comes immediately after the Gunners’ poor display in a 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurth, in the Europa League competition.
Time has been called on Unai Emery’s time at Arsenal! For a manager of his reputation, it does, no doubt leave a significant stain on an otherwise impressive resume. For Arsenal, a team that sadly has underperformed with some consistency, it means the club must once again begin their pursuit of replacing legendary manager Arsene Wenger.
Emery’s coaching record in London
Unai Emery cut an increasingly lonely and forlorn figure in his last weeks in charge of Arsenal. It was a far change from his early days in London. The Spaniard was greeted hopefully. Having previously impressed in La Liga with Valencia and Sevilla, and having just guided Paris Saint-Germain to renewed success in Ligue 1, Emery was deemed to be the man capable of taking Arsenal into a new era.
His time in London got off to a rough start, losing his first two derbies, against Manchester City and Chelsea. A few weeks into preceding there were signs of improvement. Arsenal, lead by an excellent attacking line featuring the Wenger scouted Lacazette and Aubameyang, managed an 11 game streak without defeat.
But, success narrowly escaped Arsenal who ended the season in fifth place in the Premier League. Emery’s great record in the Europa League could also not be transferred. The Gunners reached the final only to be defeated by fellow English side, Chelsea. It would have seemed that not a lot of progress had really been achieved since Arsene Wenger’s recent departure.
The 2019/20 season was greeted hopefully by fans. Arsenal had brought in players on a streak of high-spending. This was a noteworthy change. But, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, and David Luiz failed to make an immediate impression. Arsenal struggled. By late November, the team’s mission to finally reinstate themselves as a team capable of playing in the Champions League looks to be in serious jeopardy.
Unable to mitigate dressing room rows
It’s no easy task keeping alliances when in charge of a top Premier League side. Mourinho felt this at Manchester United and Chelsea. Even Wenger may have been a victim of these issues, regardless of his status in the club. But, Emery’s desire for discipline may have seriously soured relations between himself and Arsenal’s players.
There was first the matter of Mesut Ozil, the team’s highest-paid player. The German player was reduced to a fleeting role, with Emery making clear his intentions to try and sell the midfielder. Then, there was the incident in which Granit Xhaka was stripped of his captain’s armband following a row with the Arsenal supporters. And, other reports preceded this.
Perhaps Emery’s intentions were simply to make changes to a squad that had largely failed in impress in years prior. But, for a club that has hesitated in making any dramatic changes, Unai Emery’s shaky job-security offered him little strength in his position in the dressing room.
What next for Arsenal and Emery?
When the dust settles, there isn’t a great deal gripe with regarding Emery’s tenure with Arsenal. Largely, he has left the team where he left it. Emery’s reputation is built upon numerous successful campaigns. While a job is not lined up for the Spaniard, he will no doubt get another chance of managing a top side. La Liga looks to be the best option.
Arsenal return to the proverbial square 1. Their decision to fire their most famous tactician, Arsene Wenger, has yielded few positives. Is this a team more capable of entering football’s elite then they were 2-3 years ago? Probably not.
The Gunners will need to act quickly if they are to salvage this season. But, of course, their goal is not reduced to this season. Arsenal wish to return to their treasured past, one in which they were one of Europe’s best and most forward-thinking sides. For that they need to merely coaching quality, but a steady hand and clear vision. Few managers will be capable of that. Fewer will want to take their chance on Arsenal now that Emery has been unceremoniously sacked.