Is Unai Emery The Boring Choice At Arsenal?

After much speculation linking Arsenal with young hotshot coaches Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta and serial league winners Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri, the BBC are reporting that Spanish manager Unai Emery is the man to fill Arsene Wenger’s shoes at the Emirates.

The former PSG and Sevilla boss probably represents less of a risk than the likes of Arteta and Vieira but he also comes across as the more boring option, especially compared to Enrique and Allegri.

The forty-six year old certainly has a winning CV as he has claimed three Europa League titles with Sevilla and all the domestic trophies in France, including the Ligue 1 title this past season.

The Gunners will hope for an upturn in fortunes if Emery arrives but they have to be aware that he does seem to have flaws in his managerial make-up.

Many who watch French football believe AS Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim is the best coach working in France.

The Portuguese boss has to work with far stricter financial budgets, yet in the 2016-17 season he guided his team to the Ligue 1 championship ahead of Emery’s team from the capital. That is the only season in the last six that mega-rich PSG haven’t claimed the French top flight trophy.

Monaco are essentially a well run selling club; they get rid of the best performing players for huge profits, then sign replacements at a much lower fee and then when they do well and sell them too. They clearly have a great scouting system that works wonders.

While winning the league at his second attempt was great for Emery, at PSG to only win one out of two Ligue 1 titles is deemed a failure. They were also too easily exposed and naive in the latter stages of Champions League, Unai was brought in on the basis of his success in Europe previously with Sevilla.

The truth is that Emery just couldn’t handle the big egos at the Parc des Princes. He struggled to be the leader and assert his authority.

He publicly laid bare his troubles in uniting the PSG dressing room:

“I tried to fight against this comfort zone by risking plenty, discussing things more often and shaking the dressing room up,”  

“However, these changes, as I had never won the Champions League, proved prejudicial — it was detrimental.”

“Succeeding in being convincing is fundamental for a coach — the players must believe in you. I think that I can try to achieve what the likes of Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Zinedine Zidane have but I am still missing a lot.”

While I admire his honesty here, he does come across as a bit weak. Arsenal players might not be as bigheaded as those in Paris but they might look at that and think he’s an easy touch, especially when the chips are down!

The Spanish boss wasn’t successful in his other job outside of his home country. He only took charge of twenty-six games at Spartak Moscow before being sacked, having won less that 50% of those fixtures.

It’s worth noting that Unai does have a tactical brain, that can spring convincing results in big games. He also has the reputation of improving talent too. These could be key characteristics that could help him in the Gunners hot-seat.

He’s also known to be one for using disciplined training drills, the Arsenal defence and midfield could definitely use some of that.

Two major things need to happen for Emery to have any success in North London, in my opinion.

Firstly, player recruitment has to be right.

The defence needs to be strengthened, the midfield needs a general and they probably need a new keeper as well.

He needs the Arsenal hierarchy to back him in the transfer market and pinpoint stars that can improve his squad and importantly his first eleven. These need to be signings that match his philosophy of intense football across the pitch.

He worked best in Seville with Monchi working wonders in the transfer market and Emery doing his best stuff on the training pitch.

Secondly, the players need to be on board and see him as the manager.

To be honest, I think as Wenger got older some of his players downed tools and lost focus. That might have something to do with his signings and his training methods but whatever the reason they need to buck up their ideas under the next head coach.

If Unai Emery can unite the squad to back him, then he’ll have a much greater chances of obtaining success at the Emirates.

Is Emery the safe/boring option? Possibly but as in all appointments it still represents a risk.

The Spaniard has a lot of the tools needed to rejuvenate Arsenal but we will need to find out if he can use those tools properly and get the trust of the players, the backing of the board and the approval of the support!

Leave a Reply