Unai Emery

Arsenal
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Lacazette, Ozil, Bellerin praises Arteta as Arsenal ‘more together now’

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Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette are praising new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, just as comments from former boss Unai Emery mention disgruntled stars.

There’s no evidence that the two players had heard Emery blast “some stars” for a lack of effort during his tenure. If you want to connect some dots, though, it’s not a hard path for your pen.

“We are more together now,” Lacazette said from winter training camp in Dubai. “The way we think as well on the pitch and outside the pitch. Tactically we are better and we’re going to see a big improvement in the next few weeks.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Ozil echoed his sentiments, saying, “As a team, we are much happier and everyone wants to give everything for this club.”

Hector Bellerin is one of the leaders left over despite so many changes in North London, as Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal departed in the summer.

Bellerin is not viewed by many (if any) as a malcontent, and says things are just better now.

“Mikel has always been very tactical in his work and in his whole life, he’s very professional with very clear ideas,” he said via Arsenal.com. “It’s very early doors in time. [Mikel] has a new philosophy and the way he has implemented it in the last few games that we’ve played, there’s been a big change.”

Arsenal hosts Newcastle in its first match back from break.

Unai Emery: Some Arsenal stars ‘asked for more than what they were giving back’

Unai Emery: Arsenal
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Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery is not holding back in discussing why the Gunners failed to get the job done on his watch.

Emery said “Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years” when he was hired and that the club took positive steps in reaching last season’s Europa League Final and finishing a point off the Top Four.

Arsenal had Champions’ League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end.”

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Emery says that the exodus of four leaders this summer was too big of a problem to address by the time he was fired in December.

“We lost our four captains: Koscielny, Cech, Ramsey and Monreal,” Emery told France Football. “They were personalities that we missed this season to stay on the right track. And some stars did not have a good attitude and asked for more than what they were giving back.”

Well, those words point in the direction of several well-worn targets for fan unrest, don’t they Mesut? This is where Lionel Messi will have wanted Emery to name names.

Emery seems to accept that he played his part in the failure but also name-dropped the club’s biggest summer signing in addressed the terrible first half of this Premier League season.

“We needed time to succeed with our transition to a new Arsenal which is what I wanted,” he said. “For example, Nicolas Pepe, who was the club’s choice, clearly needed time to adapt. But I accept the rule of thumb and that I am poorly placed to criticize because I also benefited from such judgement in the past.”

This where we feel required to point out that Pepe must have some sort of personality issue with both of his coaches, because advanced stats say he’s been one of, if not, the most effective Gunner.

There’s a comparison to be made between the long rebuilds after the tenures of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger at Manchester United and Arsenal. Certainly United was left in a better position, but Arsenal had the better replacement.

Either way, the ends of two eras have led to a pair of substandard new ones.

Ljungberg wants quick appointment of new Arsenal manager

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Freddie Ljungberg is honored to serve as Arsenal’s interim manager following Unai Emery’s dismissal, but the Swede is also hoping for a speedy conclusion to the club’s search for a permanent replacement.

[ MORE: Lampard: Chelsea youngsters can’t worry about January transfers ]

In theory, taking over the most famous club for which Ljungberg played was a no-brainer. In practice, though, he openly admits it’s been not only a difficult time for everyone emotionally, but also in terms of the staff members available to assist him during the day-to-day grind. Throw in the fact he has no idea whether or not he’ll still have a role at the club when the new manager arrives, and it’s beginning to sound like a no-win situation. Perhaps he’s being considered to remain in the job permanently, but Ljungberg says he’s been given no indication of any such thing — quotes from the Guardian:

“The club have said I have to wait until they make a decision, so I can’t do anything at the moment. I have Per [Mertesacker] but at the same time he is academy manager. He is helping me with the coaching. The club has said when they make a decision then that’s it — or I’m leaving, obviously — and maybe then we can do something with the staff. But it’s up to the club.

“If you look at the person who was here before, he had a lot of staff and maybe I don’t have so many. So if you keep on going like that for months and months, it’s not so easy. But that’s totally up to the club.”

“I haven’t got any indication of if I’m here or not. What I’ve said to the bosses and the club is I will do everything in my power to do as well as I can for this club and the players. Then obviously it is up to them to make a decision. I try not to put any emotions into that.”

Arsenal came back from a goal down (twice) to draw Norwich City in Ljungberg’s first game in charge, then the Gunners were comprehensively beaten (at home) by Brighton & Hove Albion. The bounced back with a win over West Ham United on Monday, but could only draw Standard Liege (albeit with a weakened team) in the Europa League on Thursday.

Report: Everton approached Emery about managerial vacancy

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The search for Everton’s next manager is already well underway after an informal meeting with recently departed Arsenal manager Unai Emery in London over the weekend, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Rodgers: “Historic day” as Leicester City extends win streak ]

Owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright are said to have drawn up a list of four candidates for the job which became vacant when Marco Silva was fired on Thursday. Emery is reportedly one of the names on the list, alongside Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti. Shanghai SIPG manager Vitor Pereira is also believed to be one of — if not — the club’s preferred choices.

As for Emery, it is unknown whether or not he wishes to jump into another job at this time. While he is expected to take a brief sabbatical, Emery won’t want to wait too long before picking his next job. According to the report, he would prefer to manage in either England, Spain or Italy next.

[ MORE: Man arrested in connection to racist abuse at the Manchester derby ]

Everton began Duncan Ferguson’s interim tenure by snapping a three-game losing skid with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over fourth-place Chelsea on Saturday.

Where it went wrong for Emery at Arsenal

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There were many highs and lows of Unai Emery‘s stewardship of Arsenal FC, but arguably the moment where things turned for the worst came away from the perfectly manicured grass at the Emirates Stadium.

Heading into the summer, it was clear that Arsenal needed more help defensively. Emery’s signings of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi were a good sign, showing that Arsenal was committed to finally plugging a hole in defensive midfield that hadn’t been filled since Patrick Vieira – former coach Arsene Wenger always preferred a Jorginho type passer in that position, but they’d be overrun against every big-six opponent.

[READ: Who are the favorites to replace Emery at Arsenal?]

But at centerback, the team was woefully overmatched. Shkodran Mustafi looked like a shell of himself, Laurent Koscielny was still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the run up to the 2018 World Cup, and prospect Rob Holding suffered a torn ACL, meaning he was out for the season.

So the last thing Emery could afford was losing one of his best remaining centerbacks, in maybe the worst way possible. And yet, that’s essentially what happened.

Koscielny returned to training on July 5, and per the Guardian, made it clear that if he didn’t have a new contract by next week, or perhaps at least some progress on a new deal, he would be holding out. That meant the Arsenal club captain wouldn’t be traveling with the squad to the U.S. for preseason training.

This seemed to take Arsenal’s leadership by surprise. In the 2018-2019 Premier League season, Aaron Ramsey and the club weren’t able to meet in the middle, and so Ramsey let his contract run out and freely traipsed to Juventus. But Ramsey never made a fuss on the training pitch over his contract negotiations. He was a professional on and off the field and let his play do the talking.

Koscielny, on the other hand, wasn’t having it. Perhaps emboldened by his stature at Arsenal and that a new manager was at the helm – would he have done this against Wenger? – Koscielny never got on the plane to America. One month later, he completed a permanent transfer to Bordeaux, and Emery never appeared to recover as Arsenal manager. Before the end of the calendar year, Arsenal fired Emery.

The Koscielny case – and other similar recent mishaps by Emery, such as the captaincy fiasco and freezing out Ozil only to bring him back in recently – paints a picture of Emery as a brilliant tactician with average to below average man management skills. We have that here in the U.S. There are plenty of brilliant minds who coach football and basketball, but devising clever plays is worthless if you can’t get your team to understand the plays and execute them. What makes coaches like Bill Belichick and Steve Kerr successful is getting the buy-in from their players and managing them along the way. Tactics is only half the battle.

On paper, even with a creaky defense and a young midfield, this Arsenal team shouldn’t be languishing in ninth place. But it was clear as the weeks went on that Emery was essentially powerless to stop the sieve of goals into Arsenal’s net. Each week it was a different culprit, whether David Luiz, Sokratis, new signing Kieran Tierney or Calum Chambers. Under another manager, perhaps those four could raise there level. Under Emery, with everyone seemingly playing just for themselves, their levels sunk below the opposition.

At the same time, despite the $87 million Arsenal committed to spend on new signing Nicolas Pepe to go with stars Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they didn’t click in attack as often as they should have. Aubameyang continues to score but his goals often grab a point or a late, often undeserved win, for the Gunners. They were not blowing teams apart even with their vast array of talented attackers.

Emery wasn’t all bad at Arsenal. He brought positivity back to the Emirates Stadium in the 2018-2019 season with his new energetic signings like Guendouzi and Torreira. Fans won’t soon forget the 4-2 win at home over Tottenham, where the roof nearly blew off on Torreira’s wonderful second half goal. There was also wins over Chelsea and Manchester United, plus Napoli and Valencia in the Europa League, but Arsenal was struggling in the Premier League around the time of the latter two wins.

Off the field, by all reports Emery was a true gentleman to everyone at the club. And although some disgustingly made fun of his accent, Emery always tried to communicate in English when he could have easily just brought along a translator for every interaction. He tried his best to integrate himself in the club and in England.

But this season, Emery could never find his mid-season momentum again from last year, and things began falling quickly. Emery will certainly get another opportunity to coach in top-flight football, and perhaps he’ll eventually learn from his mistakes. However, it’s a second-successive coaching failure in which Emery lost control of the locker room due to poor man management skills, and his firing was ultimately inevitable.