Unai Emery has taken over the helm to succeed Arsène Wenger at the Emirates after he was replaced by Thomas Tuchel. His 2-year contract with French Champions Paris Saint-Germain was not renewed despite him leading the French Ligue 1 side to a domestic treble this season.
Mikel Arteta, former Arsenal captain & midfielder was given encouragement that he would be succeeding Arsene Wenger, so much so that the make-up of his backroom staff and his final contract terms were being discussed. But instead of a new face in the managerial world and a mixture of Wenger’s values and a Pep Guardiola-style of football at the club, Arsenal rapidly spun around in a completely different direction with the appointment of former PSG boss Unai Emery. It is believed that the board was so impressed with Emery’s knowledge (which was apparently more than some people who had spent years with the club) and vision for the club that he left all other candidates in the dust.
Who is Unai Emery?
When Unai Emery was the manager of La Liga side Valencia, they had a great run of success from 2008-12 with three consecutive top-3 finishes but a brief spell at Spartak Moscow ended his run of success. He returned to Spain with Sevilla delivering three consecutive of Europa League titles, his two-year run at PSG will be remembered as one of his worse jobs and that is keeping the domestic treble in mind.
Off the pitch, Emery was a calm and composed figure but on the touchline, he was a completely different person. In Spain, his off the charts mobility and constant gesturing on the sidelines earned him the nickname of ‘Guardia Urbano’ or ‘traffic warden’. He is also said to be a typical workaholic who spends the majority of his time studying videos of opponents, something Arsène and him have in common.
The 46-year old has been criticised for being a below-par man manager as he struggled to manage the big names, especially Neymar, this season. But Mesut Özil is not Neymar and there is no player in the Arsenal squad as egocentric as the Brazillian winger.
What to expect from the man
Unai Emery will certainly inject defensive stability, organization, and motivation after taking a look at last season’ performances of the club away from the Emirates. Problems such as lapses in concentration, gifting points to smaller teams, lack of heart from the players and a definitive lack of winning mentality have to be addressed before the start of the new season.
Emery will get Arsenal more organized than they’ve been in years and his keen interest in drills and discipline. He will bring a completely different style of football to the club. His philosophy would entail high pressing, high intensity defending and counter-attacking style as opposed to Wenger’s possession-based football.
Emery won’t have the same pressure he had at PSG when he joined them having 3 successive Europa League titles to his name and that is a very good thing for both the club and the manager.
Rebuilding the team
The rebuilding job at Arsenal may suit the ex-PSG manager as the job entails working with the players that are already present in the squad rather than spending money on 10 or more players.
Emery is expected to hand (Arsenal Player of the Year) Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang key roles in the team as he aims to take the team back to the Champions League. Unai Emery is a manager who can work with the players that are currently at his disposal and doesn’t demand €100 million superstars.
Emery is picking up a team who just endured Arsenal’s worst season defensively since a very long time and Emery will be demanding a right to make changes in the coaching as well as the playing department. Players like Shkodran Mustafi and his habit of switching-off, Koscielny’s drop in form and the retirement of Per Mertesacker. Hence the club will definitely be in the market for another experienced defender and he will also turn to other important areas which need addressing such as the midfield anchor position and the goalkeeper position.
Winning the fans back
The number of empty seats in the home stands last season made it clear that they had lost a worrying number of fans. Paying for tickets and choosing not to attend sends out a clear message to the higher-ups. The new manager has to bring something that would romantically win the fans back, a style of football which is exciting to watch as well as getting results. The lack of trust from the fans is understandable but Emery has the ability to get them back if he can buckle up and get early victories.
With Arsenal competing for Europa League trophy next season, Unai Emery who holds a fitting title of ‘King of the Europa League’ is the perfect option to replace Arsène Wenger as manager and even though he is seen as a short-term replacement, that might be exactly what Arsenal needs right now.