Unai Etxegoien Emery brought that feel good factor back to Arsenal during the 22-match unbeaten run, and made fans believe that the ‘days of turmoil’ endured in the latter years of the Wenger Era were over. But losses to Southampton, Tottenham and the mauling by Liverpool brought back memories of the gloomy days. The smart money is on the Spanish born tactician to have an unsuccessful spell at the North London Club, and here are the reasons:
Emery has solid credentials, but a dodgy history: Gone are the days when the league was a two-horse, three-horse or four-horse race, where missing out on winning the league meant a juicy qualification for the UEFA Champions League (a Wenger favorite) was considered compensation. The competition for the Top 4 places in the EPL is now very arduous with teams breaking banks to acquire marquee players and managers, to stay in touch with the pack. For Arsenal, Emery came in with solid credentials, having won laurels in France and Spain both domestically and in Europe. The issue with Emery however, is that he has never usurped the power houses in the leagues he has competed in. He was sacked disgracefully at Spartak Moscow after being humiliated at home 1-5 in the derby against Dynamo Moscow. At Valencia and Sevilla, he never wrestled power from Real Madrid and Barcelona like a certain Diego Simeone, and at PSG there was little or no competition, let’s not also forget that Emery has a deficiency in coaching which is DEFENDING!
His teams are not usually defensively astute: A dazzling attack will win you games, but it is defence that win you titles. Over the years Unai has shown that when it comes to defending, he struggles to set up his team (remember PSG 4-0 lead to Camp Nou). This is a pivotal aspect of Arsenal’s play that needs improvement, managers like Claude Puel, Roy Hodgson, Sean Dyche and Rafa Benitez have led their respective teams to be defensively resilient in games that one cannot but agree that Emery’s defensive play is a recipe for disaster!
Arsenal can’t buy big: Except for the odd teams: Monaco 2017, Leicester 2016, and Atletico Madrid 2014, teams that have won the title in the last decade in Europe’s top leagues have splashed the cash on exceptional quality when the need arose. Ironically for Emery’s 1st transfer war chest he had just 70 million pounds to fortify his team, in a league where rivals Liverpool and Chelsea brought in shot stoppers worth even more than the gunners entire budget. It’s not rocket science that, if you want top talent you need to break the bank! Arsenal have the most expensive season tickets in the land, but shop for bargain; the quality on the pitch will tell.
Emery will need time, but the fans won’t give: The experience of the last decade at Arsenal: fans turned on each other, booed players at home games, and Wenger was attacked at a train station in Stoke; while Monsieur stayed on, but later resigned because he acknowledged the bad blood between fans and himself. Fast forward to Emery’s regime, despite the glaring restrictions, fans will demand results. As it is, the boycotting has started already as recent losses meant the Emirates had a lot of empty seats last time out against Fulham. This is a tough job for Emery, and when the pressure gets too much, he will have no choice than to throw in the towel.
Finally, Arsenal will enjoy good production from the last batch of bargain deals: Guendozi, Torreira, and Leno, but Emery will need a minimum of three years to get his kind of team together. Unfortunately, managers don’t enjoy such luxury anymore. Arsenal’s ridiculous wage bill also means the club is stuck with players the Spaniard doesn’t need. While all this is going on, the spending clubs would have won the league over and over, knocking Arsenal further down the table (meaning the club will consistently miss CL football).
Stan Kroenke who now owns the club, is worth around 7 billion pounds, but has not financed the club with a single penny in the last decade unlike the owners of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspurs, Chelsea, Leicester not to mention Fulham and even Wolves. How then can Emery succeed?
Let’s stop the delusion. Miracles don’t happen always. Emery will FAIL at Arsenal except something DRASTIC happens to change the inner workings at the club.
By Kingsley Akpan