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Does Unai Emery Deserve More Time?

@ShardGooner gives his “uncensored” verdict on Arsenal’s new head-coach. Part I of a Series.

When Unai Emery came in, he had an opportunity to unite a divided fanbase, desperate to move on and have something to get behind. Of course there will always be some who only like to moan. But for the rest of us, this was a chance to look to the future and dream.

Unfortunately, there is division again. This time, more severe I believe. Because it isn’t based around a tall figure in the club’s history who can be the lightning rod for any and all ills. While some hold out with stubborn patience, or blind optimism (not sure which), others just see a bleak future.

Some say any coach needs at least 3 transfer windows. This is a reasonable policy. However every policy must also be flexible to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

Emery made all the right noises

When he came to Arsenal, Emery made all the right noises, said all the right things, and endearingly, said them in (broken) English. However, the longer the season went on, the more apparent it became that his words meant nothing. He’s not implemented any of the things he said he would. No passing, no pressing, no possession based game. No youth development. Demanding more in the transfer market.

He got the job on the basis of a detailed presentation outlining his knowledge of every player in the squad and how he’d use them. There is no way Gazidis and Mislintat would have ever given him the job if his vision for the team was to use the likes of Ozil and Ramsey merely as shuttlers and Kolasinac and Bellerin as the prime creative forces. It is completely not how this team was constructed. Which is where all the problems stem from. Problems of identity, problems of division – both in the team and in the stands – and problems of budget too.

To now craft this team in Emery’s image would mean a waste of the resources spent on Ozil’s new contract, would close the window of opportunity for others in the squad, and will necessitate a hard rebuild, which will cost a lot of money, and/or lead to a reduction in quality.

The football is not fun to watch

The money is not the issue though. At some point, a rebuild isn’t all bad. What is problematic is what comes after? Forget what Unai Emery does or doesn’t deserve. Is Unai Emery’s brand of football what Arsenal deserves? Is this the brand of football we would like to present to our fans and to the world? The football is just not fun to watch. Ultimately, no amount of beating around the bush, looking for reasons or excuses, can hide that fact.

Speaking of excuses. Unai Emery has done a lot of that in his short time at Arsenal too. Only in the last few weeks of the season, he’s taken potshots at Mkhitaryan, Ramsey and Wenger. There was no need for him to say Arsenal lost their ‘competitive edge’. He could have just kept it complimentary and said we now work to the future. If he really wanted to say something, he could have just said the results dried up. But no, he made it about ‘competitive spirit’. This is not behavior I would like to see from anyone in a position of responsibility, let alone someone who represents Arsenal.

Let me explain why. The reason he speaks of ‘competitive’ is twofold. One, because he knows that is what the accusatory narrative against Wenger was. Two, because he wants to take attention away from a focus on results and the quality of performances. He even said he was hired for his competitiveness, which is a misrepresentation if not an outright lie. We were told why he was hired. He himself told us what his plans were. Competitiveness, whatever that means, is a cop out and trying to pull someone else down.

Pattern of blaming others

This is also a pattern we see when he blamed Ramsey for getting injured and for not playing well because his head was turned. Again, using the false narrative he knows exists against Ramsey. Similarly with Mkhitaryan. I know many other Arsenal fans have a different opinion than I do. But whatever be the case, Emery once again threw Mikhi under the bus rather than take it on the chin and keep it about the collective. He was getting in his excuses early.

This pattern of blaming others to protect himself lies beyond Arsenal. At PSG he blamed their club culture, certain players, he blamed the referees, a LOT, for their collapse. Even the collapse itself is a pattern with him, as is the boring brand of football.

He’s picked fights with his team’s best or most technical player before too. While creating conflict is a legitimate motivational tactic, (eg Mourinho used it effectively) you have to be able to deal with the consequences of it. Emery seems to not take ownership of that.

Blaming Ben Arfa, Neymar and Ozil is convenient, especially because there might be some truth to it. But if the coach exhibits a pattern of such behavior, surely it ought to be telling us something about his attitude too.

Emery is not representative of the club’s values

This goes beyond the end of season collapse. It goes beyond the inability to play a brand of entertaining football that Arsenal is known and loved for. It goes beyond the fact that somehow our defending has gotten worse than even last season. That we don’t have a footballing identity which the players too seem confused by. It goes beyond the transfer market and money. It isn’t something that is a function of time.

Emery’s real failing has been is that he doesn’t know who he represents. He’s not an Arsenal man. In this he’s not alone among people currently employed by Arsenal. But Emery is not a representative of the values which define this great club. Emery has not only failed to reach the results target of making the CL, of the 4 expectations that were put in front of him for how he’d go about it, he has failed in each and every one of them. Such an abject failure deserves no more time. It can only prove more harmful.



  1. I agree Shard,brillant piece covering all the points. Not sure he will last to the end of the season? Worst case scenario is if he irritates and freezes Auba or Lacca and they respond by not bothering.

    • Look at the fixtures in December. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Emery gets sacked during or just after it. That schedule is brutal.

  2. Emery said yesterday that he did not know Robbie Burton, a regular in our U23’s last season, and that he was only included in the USA tour squad on the advice of Ljungerg. Emery was meant to know all our players including the youths, also he was meant to be a coach who wanted to promote youth. Something does not add up.

  3. How did Emery get the job ahead of the likes of Pellegrini?

    “Mislintat claims that he was offered Arsenal’s technical director role before Edu and believes the Gunners’ hierarchy are no longer working ‘independently’ in the transfer market and are now heavily reliant on clubs and agents offering players”

    That’s how.

    Because the Arsenal has become a club like others described in the novel the Damned Utd where the marketing and football relations people now dictate the football above the heads of the craftsmen and women, though they are not qualified to do so.
    This great English football club that represented English Football at the top level is being gutted if it’s identity and values and history and tradition and some idiots supporting this process tell themselves that they are protecting English Football, because they’ve been played for fools.

    • That’s it fins. It all starts from asking and finding the answer to your earlier question. Who or What is Raul Sanllehi?

      It’s clear Sven was meant to be the TD when the post would officially be created after Wenger left. He was already doing the job. He sat on the committee to select the next coach and assess his vision. I suppose you can blame him and Gazidis for getting played by their colleague. They would have known what he’s like, just not that he’d turn on them in this fashion. Enough power to go around after Wenger left, but wasn’t enough for Raul obviously. Arsenal and its values will pay the price of this ambition. Unless…Edu proves he’s more an Arsenal man than an agency man, and along with Per and Freddie fights back. Turn it into a TV show and you could rival GoT. Hopefully it ends better though.

    • Note that, with the exception of a few minor articles, none of the initiators of the petition are willing to seriously discuss and analyze the performance of the new management and the head-coach over the past year. You have got to wonder why.

  4. Billy the Big Blagger supports the process as explained by Sven.

    That’s why they said,

    “I really like Raul”™
    Damned by their own cravenness.

    Unsurprisingly these marketing junkies enjoy the PR above the Football. Which is fortunate as they know sweet FA about the footy! “Ozil and Ramsey can’t play together” apparently, after millions of Arsenal fans saw them bring home three cups n four years the fourth of fifth best period for AFC in history since WWII – the PR genius’ have been damned by their own PR! LOL!

    Interesting isn’t it that Sven’s broadside against Raul coincides with the entire French football culture calling him out for the treatment of Koscielny.

    Raul and his sub-consultants are not as good at the old PR as they think they are.

  5. Just to point out this was written soon after the EL final. Some things have changed since then. For one, it’s clear Emery is staying. As usual, the support the manager quote applies. I want Emery to do well. I believe he wants to do well. I’m just not sure I can ever accept that his vision of the game fits with the club.

    On the positive side, we’ve seen the formation of a transition team to push through youth players, and 4 youth players have officially been promoted to the first team squad. We finally have a Technical Director after many months (How good he is remains to be seen) Ozil seems to be a big part of the club’s marketing and PR push, and the body language between him and the coach seems improved. And in the two pre-season games so far, we’re once again playing with some joy. Long may that continue.

    • I am not as sanguine as you Shard. The pre-season PR has been excellent just like they were one year ago. Based on Josh’s letter am sure there will be a few transfers-in to sate the appetite of the transfer junkies. But I/we have been around long enough to know it is an entirely different matter when the season starts and the tire hits the road. Then the manager aka head coach has to show the strength of his conviction and beliefs. They usually resort to habits of a lifetime when the pressure is on. We saw how that worked out last season.

      • If you ask me what I expect, I’ll say more of the same as last season. That wasn’t an aberration. It reflected the exact doubts expressed about him when he first joined us. That is who he is.

        The hope I have is that who he is also includes the ability to do what it takes to keep his job. He brought back Ozil to play last season after the BATE loss when his job was on the line. Same with Ramsey. Even to the extent of overplaying him despite risk of injury. Did the same with Koscielny too.

        If Edu, and/or the other coaches and players at the club make it clear to him that only a certain style of football will be acceptable if he’s to stay in the job, there is a chance he sticks to it for the most part. The fans will play a role here too. Poor football already led to boos among the match going fans last season. I doubt they’ll accept such dull football for the entirety of the season once again. Especially now they can no longer keep blaming Wenger and be taken seriously.

  6. I agree with everything said so far.

    That all the contributors today are familar names from other blogs, who often tend to reflect how I feel, it makes this place quite comfortable.

    I say that I agree, with some feeling of guilt, as it seems tp be nagativity that so many of us have compained about on other blogs.

    However, there is a great difference from the hysterical and, frequently insulting, criticism of AW, and what so many of us are saying about UE.

    I have made no secret of my dislike and distrust of UE for a long time.

    I think he misled the club and that they could not believe that they had found the ideal candidate, someone who would not be demanding lots of money to spend on players.

    The most important question is, why did he leave the manager’s heaven that is PSG, and why could he not hack it there?

    If he could not manage it there, why would he be abe to do so here, with much much less money available.

    I think that his reported suggestion that we were going to sign 4 top and expensive players follows the same pattern.

    Yes, there are plenty of warts on our club and plenty of problems with some, if not all of the players, but what happened last year was, for me, an ominous sign for the future.

    I hope that I am wrong, but don’t think so.

    One of the most endearing things about AW was his love for clib and his affection for the players.

    That, in his entire 22 years, he never criticised a player once in public, says a lot about the man and the atmosphere at the club.

    Yes, perhaps it was too relaxed, but then, that relaxed atmosphere produce football that no one in the country had seen for many years, or if at all.

    UE could not get his public criticism of Koscielny out fast enough.

    2 wins pre-season does not mean that much or anything.

    What is important is how we perfom against Newcastle.

    Will it be back to UE type?

    I fear, yes.

  7. finsburypJuly 19, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Before Emery came to Arsenal AFC competed with the mega club’s by making Arsenal football club appeal to Footballers, no different to Milan or Juve really, it’s a traditional model. It’s how a club with less resources competes with the mega club. This is not rocket science you don’t need to consult with a cunning linguist or Billy Big Blagging PR consultant to a sporting agency, most kids who follow the footy can understand, but not you’re blagging PR consultant that “really likes Raul”™, lol.

    Before Emery came to Arsenal he failed to make the highest spending club in the history of Football (along with the other petro clubs) attractive for Footballers. Which is why he got the hook.

    Oh dear.

    When you sum it so simply it really is not much of debate there!

    No civil war.

    Just a football club being gutted regardless of what we say no different to what happened to clubs since the 70’s at least according to the writers of the Damned Utd.
    Which makes the silence of the blagging donkeys remarkable: I hope no one is offended by people remarking upon Raul’s cheerleaders like the transparent clown from the gazette etc. These people are possibly employed to spin their line as things are going to get even more nasty as with Lolo.
    1) they’ve failed to get rid of Ozil after being outmanouvered by his agent
    2)Rambo made them look like chumps with just a shrug, and
    3)Lolo the club captain is now taking them to court.

    The three world class talents with the kudos and talent to not need the Super Agents on Raul’s speed dial (John Jenson? Yikes…).

    It’s a clear trajectory.

  8. Im wondering if the petition will all be laid at Raul and chums feet? Stan rarely has anything to do with his clubs, im not convinced Josh really has an idea whats going on (?).
    But If “I really Raul Montana”™ doesnt do the business this summer (erm what is it three weeks or so?)then its the classic middle management game. Look back to the 80s and 90s, 000’s how a sharpshooter would be brought into firms, get rid of people, annoy the crap out of everyone then leave the place in a worse state. Raul has to pull off some serious signings that put the Arse back into he top four otherwise hes going with Emery? Send the off to the Spuds? Could well be that each of them is blaming the other by the end of the season. Aside of Tottenham, who is the chicken and the egg here? Egg all over the clubs face?Then if that scenario pans out we have to start all over again, meanwhile even more cash has gone out of the door, and with it some of our best babies.
    As regards do todays question how long should Emery have? Its a tough one to answer, what if we lose the first 10 tgames? Bye. What if we are back in 5th or 6th at Christmas, still playing Xmas pud football and struggling against Watford? Unless he get some silver ware (what did Josh actually mean when he said we want silverware and trophies? Forks, knives and Cups? See what I mean about Im not sure that he understands it all?) Emerys gone, and it looks like it will be a wasteland après his exit? No, the answer is not to get a petitioner in as a board member.
    I dont understand why Edu has been hailed a kind of messiah or that Zaha will be a messiah type too? (thats Zaha worth 100mill and Auba only 62-68 million eh eh eh?) Do you? aftv seem to think so. then why has nobody grabbed him from the Nest before now?
    The fact that Kos wants off and Raul FC have spun their PR shows that they didnt want to get any new defenders in!?
    Mind you this is the new club that let Rambo walk. Everything was set up in Wengs last days and now Rambo’s drinking the Italy Illy, as hes no silly billy.
    D you every think Arsenal would get this weird? What the flippin heck Tucker happened to football? This is the worst pre season Ive ever known.
    Wait till next week when the lunatic will take over the asylum. That is frightening. Sometimes do you wish that you didnt care? I do. Then I could do something else, sometimes I think that this is al a bit unhealthy?

    • finsburypJuly 19, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      Don’t know Mills.

      But on further reflection Raul Montana’s failure to drive Ozil out the club after he spent 2018 injured, got booted out the German team for being injured and Of Turkish descent (in that order hehe as without the injuries he was untouchable), in the era of Brexit: it is all quite funny.

      And therefore easy to predict that Raul’s spinning consultants, we now know who they are without much doubt, they’ve embarrassingly exposed themselves and they will be aiming for the best Gunner on the club’s books for most of this season, following Raul’s failure to get him out last season: all to the detriment of the club.

  9. I dont know either fins. It is amusing that the big Ö is here to stay though!

  10. 1st Rambo, now Kosc, both want out. Then there was the attempt to drive Ozil out of the club. There is a pattern here. Even the blind can see. We d want to be negative but it is so depressing what is happening to our club.

  11. ‘He doesn’t have the players to play his system’. He had no business being Arsenal coach then. Besides, he dropped our best players in favour of the system, and then complains he doesn’t have the players? Why not just play the players you have, if the system is not working?

    Still, Ozil and Emery seem to have buried the hatchet to an extent. The club has also stopped trying to make Mesut an outcast. Whether that was to do with an end of season review, practical difficulty in selling him, the new ‘transition team’, or Adidas, it doesn’t much matter. What matters is that Ozil and others in the squad be put in a system that gets the most out of them. System can only be king if it serves the purpose. Last season it clearly didn’t.

    The bigger issue remains Raul Sanllehi. What he’s doing is just shameful. And counterproductive in the long run.

    To Mills’ point though. I expect some transfers now that Josh had to stick his neck out. Raul is under pressure in that regard. But if it doesn’t go well, he has Emery to make a scapegoat. Subsequently, he will have Edu to blame. Add in the refrain of needing time for anyone who replaces them, and it could be 10 years before Raul is in the firing line. He’s got his ‘journalist’ buddies to deflect attention too. Why I think every season or so we’ll have the club paint an Arsenal player as ungrateful or stealing our money or something.

    We need a coup led by the Wenger boys and old Arsenal boys like Ken Friar. Saw Bergkamp’s instagram post. I really hope he’s coming in. For one, he’s God and will help with the coaching. For another, he’s got both influence and experience in dealing with officials destroying the soul of a club.


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