Unai Emery is not set for the sack anytime soon, his job isn’t on the line and he isn’t destined for an embarrassingly premature exit from north London. The issue is, his chances of success at the club are about as likely as my chances of rolling seven with a single die.
Fittingly, Arsenal played Huddersfield last weekend, and while both sides reside at opposite ends of the league table, both managers have a lot in common: they’ve inherited impossible jobs. Jan Siewert won’t be able to keep Huddersfield in the top division, and Emery will never be able to lift Arsenal into the top end of the Premier League. The sad reality is, however, it isn’t his fault.
The club has been embroiled in turmoil behind the scenes all this season, and everyone involved with the club’s misery was compounded when the club’s worst kept secret was finally announced on Tuesday. Having been sunk in deep for a few months, the knife was eventually yanked out.
Aaron Ramsey‘s departure seems the best place to start. A player who at the start of the season, when Emery was given the role of head coach, was touted as the new club captain. A player the Spaniard was desperate to ‘build a team around’ has now taken the seemingly inevitable path of departing the club in farcical terms at the prime of his career. The past regime’s inability to be alert to player’s contracts running down has cost Emery not only an excellent midfielder, but easily £30-40m worth of potential investment in a squad in dire need of it.
It’s a valid point which brings us to the next shambolic factor holding back an unquestionably talented manager: money.
Since purchasing shares in the club in 2008, Stan Kroenke was locked in a war over full control with Alisher Usmanov, a self-proclaimed Arsenal fan with a genuine, heartfelt desire to bring success to the Gunners. Yet, as is always the case, money talks.
In August 2018, Kroenke seized sole ownership of Arsenal. It had been coming, the American businessman had been gradually eroding away any pleasure that remained from being an Arsenal supporter for some time. The man is now able to pay management fees and dividends to himself and place debt onto Arsenal, as well as being able use the club as collateral to support his other businesses…the ones he actually cares about. My once proud club has been relegated to a small, insignificant, private US company registered somewhere in North America.
For some clubs it could be news most welcoming, however, Kroenke has invested a grand total of, wait for it, nothing into the club.
Absolute diddly squat.
He couldn’t care less about Arsenal, his only interaction with the fans is through the occasional PR platitude, and it’s leaving Emery to climb Mt. Everest with a toothpick.
The embarrassment of only being able to acquire players in the January window on loan was laughable, at what is the ninth richest club in world football. Emery did address the long standing deficiency in the Arsenal team by bringing in holding midfielder Lucas Torreira last summer, yet the man is paralysed to improve the squad further by an owner whose sole desire is to use the club as a cash cow for his other American franchises.
Arsenal’s defence has been abysmal at best this season, conceding 37 goals in just 26 league games.
Yet, the best the Gunners can do is loan an attacking midfielder to strengthen an already free scoring front line. Additionally, if the rumours are to be true, then the 47-year-old has a measly £40m to spend in the summer, so no wonder head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has decided to jump ship. Furthermore, chief executive Ivan Gazidis, the man tasked with reassembling the internal management scheme at the club, also opted to move on, taking the same role at Milan last December.
Following successive defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea at the beginning of the season, Emery led Arsenal on a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions, as the Gunners’ faithful’s optimism began to poke its head up from behind empty Emirates seats. However, regardless of the input Emery had with a sub-par squad and his new style of play starting to implement itself with the players, it merely papered over the chasm sized gaps that remained.
Admittedly, Emery has made some bizarre and questionable team decisions this season. However, there is no doubt over the former Sevilla and PSG boss’s talent. It has shown it’s hand on a few occasions this term.
Unfortunately, Emery is shrouded in the aura of a club falling further afield from the Premier League big boys. Like the captain of a damaged boat, he is doing his upmost to keep the club from sinking further.
He needs money, he needs structure behind him.
Regardless of recent poor showings, the fans have his back, they appreciate the position he is in, however, without investment, a settled internal hierarchy scheme and a credible transfer policy, how can he succeed?
Yet, at present, he is performing valiantly to keep the club still in the hunt for a top four finish, while his expertise in the Europa League offer a glimmer of hope for a trophy this term. He’s doing the best he can for the club, but is the club really doing the best it can for him?