Arsenal fire Unai Emery

Unai Emery went to the training ground as usual. But he was still not prepared for what was coming. Emery is someone, who is not new to lean-patches and know how to overcome them, but during his reign as the manager of Arsenal, things were not improving, but each day, it was turning worse. The result against Frakfurt last night in the Europa League tested the patience and faith of Arsenal hierarchy. The fans lost faith long ago, but still the Officials kept it. In the end, this morning, at the training ground, Emery was told about his fate. Freddie Ljungberg took over.

Emery’s immediate staff, including the assistant manager, Juan Carlos Carcedo, and another first-team coach, Pablo Villa, have also left.

According to BBC, “There has been obvious concern at Arsenal’s results from within the club for a number of weeks now. It was felt after last night a decision had to be made. Emery reported to the training ground with his coaches this morning and was told face-to-face. Freddie Ljungberg will take training this morning.

There is confidence in Ljungberg and huge respect for him at the club. He was the obvious choice to take the club forward and his presence will allow the club time to make what they feel will be the right decision as next coach”.

Hey days at Sevilla and PSG

At Sevilla, Emery earned the accolades for his style of football, and shrewdness in the transfer market. He achieved an unprecedented three consecutive Europa League victories, which earned him a move to (PSG) in 2016.

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In his first year managing PSG, he led them to a domestic treble, winning the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions, while finishing second in the year-end tables for Ligue 1. He exceeded this with a quadruple in his second season, winning all four domestic trophies for 2018: Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions.

The tough time at Arsenal

After the expiry of his contract with PSG, Emery was appointed head coach of English club Arsenal. Even though, back then, according to Daily Mail, “fans favourite Mikel Arteta was ’90 per cent certain’ to replace Wenger and take his first step into senior management, after learning under the wing of Pep Guardiola.

Time went on, and the board stalled. Arsenal came under huge criticism from the likes of pundit Gary Neville, who accused the Gunners of having no coherent plan despite knowing well in advance that Wenger was to leave”.

Wenger’s long-term second in command and club legend Steve Bould warned of a tough scenario to the Arsenal hierarchy. Relieving the 57-year-old of his duties would not have been taken kindly by an already angry fan base. Later on, Bould switched roles with Freddie Ljungberg. The Arsenal coaching-staff was restructured.

The Emery regime started with a new ray of hope: Lucas Torreira arrived from Sampdoria and started to bore fruits. Emery also made the bold move of signing a high-price goalkeeper in Bernd Leno and informing Petr Cech his days were over. After his arrival, Emery could notice that the club budjet had been hampered due to the new contract linked to Mesut Ozil – it created issues. All of a sudden Aaron Ramsey would not be signing a new contract. He waved goodbye recouping precisely zero pounds in transfer window. The whole saga was poorly managed.

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Then, the fragile defence required long-term plans, but Emery opted for short term solutions – Experienced, but ageing defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was brought in from Borussia Dortmund for £14million, while Emery also opted for the free-signing of 30-plus old defender Stephan Lichtsteiner. It backfired. The loan-signing of Denis Suarez, was made in haste and it failed.

Arsenal opted for young defenders like 22-year old Kieran Tierney and 18-year old William Saliba.

Lesson learned from mistakes. But money had been wasted.

The alarming bell was ringing!  

Under Emery, Arsenal, never really got going.

3 wins from 17 games against fellow top 6 teams across all competitions. 7 winless streak from October to November 2019. 8 Premier League victories away from home with just one coming this season. 9 teenagers played under Emery without any impacts. 15 errors leading to goals for the opposition in Premier League games under Emery – more than any other top-flight club in that time. A staggering 19 points dropped from winning positions. And then came the defeat against Frankfurt.

Then there were those non-footballing events as The Guardian stated, “A series of off-field events, including the carjacking incident experienced by Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Özil in July, did not help what Emery referred to as the “emotional balance” of his team. But his handling of the squad’s captaincy, belatedly awarded to Granit Xhaka only for the midfielder to have it removed within weeks after a serious fallout with the Emirates Stadium’s fans, cast serious doubts over his control of the squad and there was also widespread criticism of the way he dealt with the mercurial Özil’s in-out role in the team”.

Well, the regime fell apart in just 18 months. Filling the big shoes of Arsene Wenger was certainly a tough task. Premier League is an unforgiving area. All is well when you are delivering the goods, but as soon as success fries up, the exit becomes inevitable. Ask Pochettino, the fortune-changer of Spurs, about his experience.

There were brighter sides too during the Emery regime. 22 matches unbeaten during a fine run of form between August and December. 42.1 – Percentage of Arsenal’s goals scored by either Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette under Emery – 64 of the 152 managed during his reign. 43 victories from 78 games in charge with a winning percentage of 55.1 whereas the legendary Arsene Wenger’s were 57.2 from 1235 matches. But these numbers become  irrelevant when the strings of failures and failed strategies loom large.

The sacking was inevitable, even though many of this Premier League colleagues did not want to agree that this move inevitable. Sadly, reality speaks something else.

What’s next?


The chapter of Emery has ended. This was an easy task. But who would be the ideal replacement of Emery should sweat the Arsenal hierarchy. There are many contenders. Legendary names like Patrick Vierra, Marcelino, Brendan Rogers, Massimiliano Allegri, Pochettino and even Jorge Jesus’s names are heard. But would signing a big name fix things? It’s hard to tell. Right now, Arsenal are in a mess and what they would need is a calm and composed tactician who would work on gelling the team at first hand and then make them believe that they are capable of winning from any positions. Such a worthy manager or coach definitely exists, but it would require an expert eye to recruit him.

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