With many Gooners struggling to come to terms with the seemingly imminent appointment of Arteta as our new manager, the shock announcement of Unai Emery came straight out of left-field.
There I was trying to convince myself that Arteta might just prove himself to be Guardiola Mark II (which in truth might not be much use, without the likes of Man City’s seemingly endless bankroll!), whilst unable to contain my fears he might lack the necessary dominant personality and might struggle to command authority, in a squad that still contains former teammates.
To be frank, I know little more about Unai Emery than is revealed on his Wikipedia entry, but I do know that I’m greatly relieved that he’s not Arteta because unlike our former midfielder Emery might at the very least be able to sweep into the Arsenal dressing room like a breath of fresh air. Personally, my main priority for the managerial appointment was that the board did not play it too safe, by appointing someone who was likely to offer us little more than a tweak on the same old, same old of the past few depressing seasons of under-achievement.
The suggestion from the Spanish media is that Emery’s shortcomings at PSG surrounded his inability to relate to the superstar culture that existed at a club full of prima donnas. However, if this means that Unai is the sort of strict disciplinarian who expects the same absolute levels of commitment from everyone in the dressing room and does not make any concessions according to a player’s number of Twitter followers, then he’s certainly alright by me.
In a translated extract from Per Mertesacker’s book, the Arsenal’s new head of Youth Development bemoans the fact that footballers are accustomed to spending only three hours a day at the training ground and that “they are on their mobiles for half of that”.
This doubtless attests to the sort of complacent culture that has prevailed at our club, where the status quo has endured for so very long that our players no longer appreciate that they are up against competitors willing to work a lot harder and sacrifice a lot more, to secure the sort of achievements that many at the Arsenal had begun to take for granted.
On the basis that our absentee landlord is not someone who’s inclined to merely throw money at the problem of improving the prospects of his plaything, our chairman appears to have compiled a triumvirate of Emery, Mislintat, and Sanllehi who are tasked with restoring the club to our former glory on a relative shoestring, when compared to the seemingly infinite budgets available to Man City and Man United.
Believe me, I wouldn’t be moaning if the Gunners were able to blow hundreds of millions on bringing in the obvious talents of the likes of Griezman and Mbappe but if we’re forced to accept an alternative model, there’s likely to be far more satisfaction involved in achieving trophies by this means.
Call me naïve, but I like to believe that the Arsenal’s success is dependent on creating the sort of united team ethic in our dressing room, where the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts and by instilling a belief that the Arsenal are more than capable of competing with the more mercenary collection of individuals at more moneyed opposition.
With this in mind, I’ve always felt that Mesut Özil’s perennial unofficial winter breaks, where he always seems to suffer a three-week spell out injured during January and where he’s been caught on social media with his feet up on a beach somewhere (or worse, out clubbing) when his teammates are all hard at it, surely can’t possibly have a positive impact on the sense of unity at the club?
I want our players to demonstrate their genuine commitment to the Arsenal’s cause and if injured, they should surely remain in and around the dressing room for every match, proving their solidarity by supporting their teammates. It will therefore be interesting to see how Emery intends to manage Mesut and to discover whether the Spaniard has learned anything from his experiences at PSG.
My Spurs pals tease me about Emery’s Europa League credentials, but the hope is he remains hungry to secure a seat at Europe’s top table. Frankly a manager responsible for a Valencia side containing the likes of Silva and Villa can’t be all bad, but as successor to the Wenger dynasty and with our extremely fickle fans, our positively merciless media and the recent revolving-door managerial culture, it will be a pleasant surprise if he prospers sufficiently to survive his first season.
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