Gracias Unai, thank you for the memories… a tribute our former manager

After 18 months in charge, Unai Emery has been sacked by Arsenal

It has been weeks in the making, but today marks the day that Arsenal finally decided to relieve Unai Emery of his duties as Arsenal’s head coach.

In a dignified and complimentary statement, Emery posted a letter of thanks to everyone at Arsenal – the players, the staff and the fans. His statement said:

It has been an honour to be the Arsenal head coach.

To all the fans, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me to understand and feel the greatness of Arsenal. To all of you who have supported us from every corner of the globe, all of you who have come to the Emirates, all of you who have waited in the rain and cold just to greet me after a game. I want to tell all of you that I have worked with passion, with commitment and with effort.

I would have liked nothing more than to have achieved better results for you.

I also want to send a message of gratitude to all Arsenal employees for the way they have treated me. The greatness of Arsenal is in every director, executive, employee, assistant and volunteer.

In particular, I want to highlight Ivan Gazidis, who welcomed me to the club, and Raul Sanllehi, Edu and Vinai Venkatesham for their respect, companionship and help. Until the very last minute I have been treated with honour and honesty. And of course, I send my sincere gratitude to the Kroenke family, for their trust.

It has been a year and a half full of emotions, of great moments and some other more bitter ones, but not a single day has gone by without me stopping to think about how lucky I have been to work for this club with these players and their professional and personal qualities.

They have always honoured the shirt they wear. They deserve your support.

I had already experienced a lot in football, but I have enjoyed and learned a lot in England, in the Premier League, about respect for professionals and about the purity of football.

My best wishes always.

COYG

At the end of the day, we all know the issues he had with the club which started in March, when we collapsed in the Premier League and really should have secured 4th place, and then collapsed again in the Europa League final.

Then there were issues with some of our players, including Mesut Özil, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette.

But for all his faults (and unfortunately, were just too many), he always carried himself well and is clearly, on a personal level at least, a perfect fit for Arsenal.

He is dignified in his manner, refuses to criticise his players, always remains positive and there’s no doubt he tried his absolute best.

Remind you of anyone?

So in that respect, we couldn’t have asked for any more – so thank you for your efforts Unai, and I truly mean that.

Despite the way things ended, without a win in 7 successive games, it wasn’t all bad times. We started last season unbeaten in 22 games, we looked like we were improving defensively and every Arsenal fan was on board with him and his ideas up until March / April time, just before things started to unravel.

Why didn’t things work out for Unai Emery?

Perhaps we expected too much from a manager who has a limited skillset. He has done well with smaller teams and maybe we needed a man who had more experience at the top top level, which is where we want to be. I do feel that the job was too big for him and that isn’t his fault. He’s taking over from a man who was not just at the club for 22 years, but was the person who moulded what the current club is all about in terms of outlook, ethos, traditions and values.

It’s a gargantuan task for anyone to take on.

You see David Moyes at Manchester United – he struggled badly there as well but it doesn’t suddenly mean he’s a bad manager. Alex Ferguson, the man who ran that club for decades had the opportunity to help select the manager he thought was best to take over at the club – so if a great like Sir Alex can make a mistake, then it’s not as if anyone saw this coming.

I really hope Emery takes some time off, takes time to reflect on his Arsenal experience and gets another job more suited to him.

Thank you for everything Unai, and I wish you all the best.

 

David Ornstein reports that Unai Emery WILL NOT get sacked

So it looks like this won’t be happening then…

David Ornstein, the ultimate authority on all things Arsenal, has just revealed that the club are 100% behind Unai Emery and that he will not be sacked.

If this was from anyone else, I would be doubting these reports but as we all know, what Ornstein says is the truth.

So where do we go from here?

We’ve just lost to Leicester City, we’re 9 points off 4th place and our season is already on the way to being a complete disaster. Yet, the people making the big money at the club – Edu, Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham and Josh Kroenke, are all supporting a manager who is clearly out of his depth.

The news (via The Athletic) is just depressing.

What are they thinking? Do they not watch the same football we see week in week out? Are they ignoring all the hard statistics which show how awful our season is going? As another club owner has said before, what are they smoking over there at The Emirates?

The other sad part of all of this is that the board seem to think that the discontent from the fans is just ‘noise’ and that basically, what the fans think is irrelevant.

Well, if that’s the case then, we should stop going to the games and show the board that we’re serious in making sure the right decision is made at the club.

Because every man and their dog knows Arsenal are in free fall right now.

 

Granit Xhaka eyes January exit… is anyone bothered?

See you then!

In a development which is slightly surprising, it seems as if Granit Xhaka is looking to leave Arsenal this January.

According to The Mirror, Xhaka is eyeing a move back to German after the whole disaster at the Crystal Palace.

My thoughts on this?

Look, it’s a sad state of affairs to let it get to this point and the whole Unai Emery / Arsenal captain situation was just a ridiculous sequence of mistakes. Letting the players vote for their captain? And then having 5 captains? What on earth was that all about?

Would I be sad or disappointed if Xhaka left Arsenal.

To be quite honest, no.

Personally I would be happy if he left, because while I’m sure he’s a nice enough guy, I feel that his influence on the team and the squad is too much. As I’ve posted previously, his influence at Arsenal is akin to John Terry at Chelsea. So if a figure like that left the club, I have no doubt that we would be in a much better place.

As well as that, he just isn’t good enough. He can’t tackle, doesn’t have any pace and can’t lead the team effectively. His presence in the team means that our midfield is already disadvantaged and pedestrian. Xhaka leaving Arsenal would solve a lot of our problems.

Plus, he’s still at an age where we’d get something back for him, so for me it’s a complete no brainer!

Let’s just hope he can find a suitor to stump up for him, and honestly if a team offered anything over £20 million, I’d snap their arm off.

 

Does Granit Xhaka have too much power at the club? Is he the ‘John Terry’ of Arsenal?

We know Granit Xhaka is hugely popular amongst the other players…

Since the start of the season, things have started to unravel at Arsenal.

Things weren’t great in the closing chapters of last season, when our Premier League form was disastrous and we somehow missed out on 4th place, after dropping points against teams we should have easily beaten – and then we collapsed in the Europa League final.

It all started when Laurent Koscielny went on strike.

When has a player ever gone on strike at Arsenal? We’ve had issues with players like Ashley Cole, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor, but they’ve never refused to play or follow club orders. After 22 years under Arsene Wenger, this was a first and it was under Unai Emery.

With Koscielny’s departure, went our captain. And if losing our best defender wasn’t enough, it spawned another problem. Who would be the next Arsenal captain?

The fans seemed to have a good idea. We watch our team week in, week out, and some obvious candidates appeared. Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin would have been popular choices, and there were even shouts for players such as Lacazette and Aubameyang, who had a lot of fight and desire, and would lead by example.

But what started was one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen – Emery would conduct a players vote.

What now?!

Unai Emery couldn’t make a decision that a manager should be making, showing his lack of authority and lack of decisiveness in the process.

And the million dollar question, why is this?

We know Granit Xhaka was annoyed that Emery didn’t just name him captain as soon as Koscielny left, with the process taking a couple of months. It has been rumoured that Emery asked at least one other player if they would be interested in being captain but they refused, resulting in the captaincy eventually going to Xhaka.

The players vote resulted in Granit Xhaka getting the most votes, and it’s clear that he is hugely popular in the dressing room.

Who does that sound like?

John Terry.

Is it that Granit Xhaka has too much power at Arsenal? Here are the facts:

  • He is loved and respected by his fellow players
  • He refuses to apologise for his unacceptable actions, despite the club telling him he should do so
  • He won’t relinquish the captaincy
  • He has constantly undermined the manager
  • He always gets picked, despite being out of form

The last few weeks have been revealing. Emery has stated several times that Xhaka should apologise – Xhaka refuses to apologise. Emery hasn’t stripped Xhaka of the captaincy – because Xhaka wants to remain Arsenal captain. Xhaka has made mistakes and played poorly this season – Emery is too scared to drop him.

People have been quick to judge Emery and say that he lacks authority, but it appears to me that Granit Xhaka has too much power and has gone power mad. He is like a John Terry figure who for whatever reason, is loved by his teammates, apparently, and we know that some of the senior players went to his house after his outburst at the Crystal Palace game.

What will happen next between player and manager? Well if things continue as they are then it won’t be Granit Xhaka leaving, that’s for sure.

 

Do Arsenal have the worst supporters in the world? Do we need to change?

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Sometimes players feel the strain…

The last few weeks have given Arsenal fans an opportunity to reflect on what is happening at the club.

We had a positive summer, brought in Pepe, Ceballos, Luiz and Tierney, and expectations were high. But we’re 10 games into the new season and even well before this point, the vultures (myself included) have called for Unai Emery to be sacked.

I have been vocal in saying that Emery should leave Arsenal. But that’s because I believe that he is struggling at the club and isn’t the right man to take Arsenal forward.

And in saying that, I haven’t been involved in broadcasting any personal abuse or attacks, or left any disgusting comments on the social media profiles of our players or manager.

There is a distinct difference between criticising a manager and player for under performing and not being at the required level, and that is what I have always done. But it’s another thing sending horrible, personal and disgusting abuse to them online – and there is a section of our fanbase who do just that.

But even though I’m not involved in any of the horrendous abuse both Emery and Xhaka have received, I still need to look at myself.

This is what I posted on Twitter last summer, when Arsene Wenger left the club and we brought in Unai Emery:

If Arsenal fans don’t give Unai Emery at least 2 seasons before criticising him, then they aren’t true Arsenal supporters:https://t.co/Qg467noNDC pic.twitter.com/X3pkZLv8sG— Mike (@afc4life_uk) June 6, 2018

What has happened to me?

When I wrote that status, my mind was clear. Arsene Wenger had left Arsenal and it was simple common sense that a new manager, whoever that was going to be, would need time to put his own stamp on the club and implement change. So why, barely after one season have I changed my opinion?

Should I get my act together and stand by my previous convictions?

In Emery’s latest press conference, it was difficult to watch. Here was a person talking about the Wolves match, who also talked about trying his best to get the team to play well and win back the support of the stadium.

And I think the big lesson Arsenal fans need to take away from the last month or so is that the manager, players and staff at the club are all human beings. There is no excuse to leave abuse online to anyone, whether they’re in football or not. We have become so used to social media that some people think it’s okay to send disgusting or vile comments online.

I’ve looked through the comments on Unai Emery’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, and the comments left on there are shameful. The same goes for the comments left on Granit Xhaka’s Instagram page. We all know Mustafi switched off comments on his Instagram page because all he was receiving was constant abuse.Paragraph

I think Arsenal fans have forgotten that we should support our team through thick and thin. The instant nature of Arsenal news and opinion has skewed the whole landscape.

Do you think fan favourites such as David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, etc. never had a bad game?

People will remember that Tony Adams had all kinds of issues in the early nineties – imagine what his situation would have been like if there had been social media around? I would hazard a guess that he wouldn’t have come back like he did and win a further 2 Premier League titles and 2 FA Cups. In today’s society, he would have been abused, there’s no doubt about it.

And what about David Seaman? How would have fans reacted online to his mistake in the Cup Winners Cup final in 1995? He would have been vilified like Loris Karius was after his mistakes in a European final. And look where he is now, he was quickly shipped out of Liverpool and that mistake has defined his career.

We all need to think about social media in a more considered light and take a look at ourselves when using it. For Arsenal, there is a bigger picture and we should all be coming together to support the team and the club.