As Arsene Wenger had stepped down at the end of the 2017-18 season, a successor was needed to replace Arsenal’s longest serving manager. Ivan Gazidis, along with new board additions Raul Sanlehi and Sven Mistlintat, were tasked on selecting a new head coach for Arsenal FC. Out of the eight people that were interviewed, Unai Emery was appointed head coach with a two year contact and an option to extend it to three years.
I wanted to find out the truth about Emery’s appointment, and have conducted extensive research and analysis over the past year to determine why Emery was appointed and the true reasons behind this. I have come to conclusion that Unai Emery’s appointment is a very intelligent man and his tactics can only be understood by few, however he wasn’t backed by the board which led to his dismissal.
Back in 2018, the board had set criteria that they were looking for in the appointment of the next Head Coach of Arsenal FC.
Progressive, entertaining football
Entertaining football is subjective to the eye. Watching Arsenal over Emery’s first season had very entertaining games, such as the 4-2 North London Derby, Valencia in the semi final, and the 2-0 win against Chelsea at home. However for neutrals, watching Arsenal is also very entertaining as their games contain a lot of goals, such as the 5-1 loss against Liverpool. Before Arsenal, Emery had managed PSG and in the round of 16 in his last season, they had gone 4-0 up against Barcelona and in the return leg had lost 6-1, knocking PSG out 6-5 on aggregate. This game alone was very entertaining and one of the greatest comebacks in the history of football. Ivan Gazidis and the board may have watched and enjoyed this spectacular game and thought that the appointment of Unai Emery would lead to more entertaining matches like this, increasing ticket sales and profits for Arsenal.
Detailed tactical instruction
Unai Emery is a tactician. I watched every game of his tenure and I can see how his tactics thrived at Arsenal.
Emery is a coach who adapts as he goes along. In this image, this sequence shows his tactics were arguably the best in the world. He tricks the opposition by pointing towards Torreira, thinking that he has instructed Iwobi to pass to him, as shown in the red arrow. Instead, Iwobi knows that when Emery points to Torreira, he means to make a clean through ball to Lacazette, as shown as the black arrow. This allows the Liverpool midfield to drop off from Iwobi and expect the pass to Torreira, however Iwobi makes a perfect ball to Lacazette, who ends up scoring from this chance.
Emery is clearly very chuffed here, as his detailed tactics worked and tricked one of the best defences and manager in the world. This alone is one of the examples to show how Emery is a detailed tactician and why the board had appointed him.
Demanding more from players
Unai Emery’s full name is Unai Emery Etxegoien. Just from ‘Etxegoien’ alone, I broke this word up and found that the word exigent can be made from this. Exigent by definition is to be pressing, or demanding of one another. Unai Emery by nature is a manager who demands a lot by his players as quoted by him, and players such as Iwobi and Cech. This is even shown by his touchline antics of shouting a lot and being very animated. At his first press conference for Arsenal he stated that the team will be playing pressing football – in which stems from exigent. I believe that the board may have seen this from his name and believed that Emery has the DNA to be a demanding and pressing manager and this is one of the reasons why he was appointed as the Head Coach of Arsenal.
However, Emery was not backed in the transfer market and failed to secure the players to play in his advanced system, leading to poor results and his dismissal.