It hasn’t taken, long ladies and gentlemen. Just over a week has passed since the final whistle at Huddersfield signalled the end of Arsène Wenger’s 22 year tenure as Arsenal manager and we now know the identity of the man tasked with following in his footsteps. Former PSG boss Unai Emery has been given the honour and the initial reaction is one of confusion. Unai Emery? Really? What was supposed to be a move into a new dawn seems has become a move into a realm that Arsenal fans should probably be concerned about.
Unai Emery’s appointment at best smells of one safety and stability in the same vein as Loius Van Gaal’s at Manchester United. Emery won’t come in and rock the boat too much. He’ll be sensible and he is the type of hire you could reasonably expect to come in and play eye pleasing football and bring forth decent results. However, at worst it stinks of the realisation that it is in fact TRUE that Arsenal, in particular the Arsenal board led by chief executive Ivan Gazidis, want a “Yes Man” they can control.
There is no smoke without fire and clouds of smoke have been escaping the Emirates for a year at least. There have long been rumours circulating that problems existed between Wenger and Gazidis in regards to a few things including player recruitment. Players coined “StatDNA signings” have been accused of being forced upon Wenger when he wasn’t interested in them. A few of those were said to be authorised by Wenger to be sold last summer only for them to stay. Recent reports suggest that the likes of Massimiliano Allegri and Luis Enrique have rejected Arsenal’s advances because of concerns over financial clout and decision making and control issues. Hell, even the bookies’ favourite Mikel Arteta who has never managed a game in his life is said to have turned down the chance to take over Arsenal due to concerns he would not have veto power over potential recruits.
It’s all starting to come together and make sense. It’s hard not to reflect on the changing in the “Arsenal way” when suggestions exist that Arsenal are already said to be in deep talks with Dortmund and Freiburg for Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Çağlar Söyüncü, respectively, despite no replacement for Wenger being announced. No manager in place? Who cares! Sven and Raul are on the scene.
It’s clear now. Arsenal want a “Yes Man” and in Unai Emery they have found the perfect candidate. Do you find that hard to believe? One of the points of contention re Emery and his PSG bosses centered around playing styles. Emery was known to want to move to more of a rigid 4-2-3-1 but his bosses demanded a 4-3-3 and what was the result? “Yes sir” and a 4-3-3 was maintained.
On initial inspection it’s not hard to understand the appeal of Emery to Gazidis and co. For starters, he is no grandpa. At 46 years old he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Secondly, he has a reputation for playing attacking football. Thirdly, and most importantly, despite enjoying riches in Paris, his reigns at Valencia and Sevilla show he’s accustomed to working under the conditions currently being implemented at Arsenal. This is a man who operated under the transfer window wizard Monchi at Sevilla and before that had little say on the in’s and out’s of players at Valencia. Music to the ears of Sven and Raul who have been brought in to oversee recruitment.
Let us reiterate Emery is not a terrible manager. Arsenal could hire far worse. For the most part he has found some level of success at most of his previous jobs (despite never being a fan favourite at either). This is a man who has won a treble of Europa Leagues back to back and while he failed in his remit at Paris Saint-Germain he is deserving of another shot with a semi big team. The concern here just centres around the decision makers at Arsenal. Too many cooks in the kitchen is never sustainable especially if the two out of four of them (random number) are prone to destroying recipes. The pressure will be on from the word go, however, and any sign of weakness will be targeted on by an unforgiving fan base. Good Luck Unai.