Arsenal has parted ways with Coach Unai Emery, the club announced in a statement. But the development has opened a void that the club will not fill in a hurry.
The past five weeks have been the worst in the coaching career of Unai Emery. The Spaniard who left French giant PSG to replace former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has been under intense pressure to do better.
Arsenal has struggled for years in both domestic and European leagues, a great cause of worry for their passionate fans who yearn for the glorious old days.
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Though revered, Arsene Wenger took a bow when it was obvious that his tactics and style weren’t going to deliver the needed result. Emery stepped into the shoes, but they certainly appeared too big for him.
The Gunners have not won any match since the 24th of October, a situation that instigated the #EmeryOut hashtag, and the subsequent booing at the Emirate Stadium following last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Southampton.
Emery knew his days were numbered, but was hoping for a miracle to save his career. Thursday night’s 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt killed whatever was left of his hope. That’s a run of seven games without a win.
Arsenal have only won four of their 13 league games which places them at eight on the table, just below the underdogs, Sheffield United and Burnley.
On Friday morning, Arsenal issued a statement. Speaking on behalf of Arsenal board and our owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Josh Kroenke said:
“Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleague s who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand. We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.
“The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required. We have asked Freddie Ljunberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach. We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward.
“The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”
Arsenal’s struggle dated back to the days of Wenger, especially the 2016/17 season when they failed to book a spot for the Champions League. It wasn’t something the North London club was proud of, so Emery was hired to change that.
But he didn’t only fail to qualify the Gunners for Champions League, he also failed to bring the Europa League home, the closest Arsenal did get to a major trophy in years. Arsenal lost the Europa League final to London rivals, Chelsea, dashing the hope of millions of fans around the world.
But the search continues for those who will wear the cap. Apart from Ljunberg who has been appointed to coach the club in interim capacity, other names are being mentioned also: Man City coach Pep Guardiola, former Arsenal player Mikel Arteta, and the recently sacked coach of Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino.
The long season beams with uncertainties, and surprises are an integral part of it. Big names no longer guarantee winnings, just as it’s evident with Jose Mourinho and Manchester United.
Great coaches are highly priced, Arsenal is notorious of its close-fistedness, and that keeps Guardiola out of the possible successors. Pochettino has similar trophyless record like Emery, hiring him will make little or no difference.
Arteta has little or no experience to compete with the big fish, though Lampard is an evidence that you can’t rule everyone out. So the search is likely to extend beyond English shores, unless Ljunberg turn things around to convince the fans that he has what it takes to lead the club to the expected result.
Arsenal will be facing Norwich this weekend and that would be Freddie’s first test. If he scales it, and takes on the subsequent games with the same mentality, he may have a chance. If not, Arsenal will have to update the list of its potential coaches to include Nunu Espirito, Allegri, Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and Eddie Howe.
The hunt for Emery’s successor is as always, a difficult decision, but whoever succeeds him will have a big shoe to step into.