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.
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.