“Arsenal will bring in a coach with a plan, which will probably include pressing. We’ll get our own new-style-coach who does the tactics, the preparation, runs hours of classroom time, and understands analytics properly. It will likely be an attacking style of football. (I don’t expect Simeone.)” March, 2018–
Tim knows a lot more about soccer than I do. He crunches numbers, and does in-depth statistical analysis.
Tim has seen the heights of Arsenal Football Club, what with the Invincibles and all.
But I don’t believe I’ve embarrassed myself in my current guise as 7amkickoff’s resident opinion columnist. You might disagree, but I doubt you will, because my predictions and analysis have mostly been on-point. (I’m not perfect of course, and walked my ’17-18 season prediction back quickly, after Liverpool ripped us a new orifice on opening day.)
I quoted myself above, as you’ve seen, not to be pretentious, but to present my thoughts on the Unai Emery hire within the context of having accurately seen that Wenger was done, and Gazidis et al would have a particular vision for what comes next.
Therefore, I’m going to state with confidence that I like this hire a lot.
I’m going on record as being Pro-Emery, and believing this was the right call for Arsenal, under the circumstances. (Those circumstances being a 6th place club that has managed a very-public decline, in a league that features at least 2 teams with unmatchable financial muscle.)
Like everyone else, I was impressed by Unai Emery’s press conference yesterday. (How could you not be?)
But unlike everyone else, I spent the morning defending the hire to an English Tottenham fan who lives in Pittsburgh…before the press conference. Despite his dubiosity, I broke it down for him thusly:
Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, two of the hottest coaching properties of the last few years, were both fired from their last job. Each, despite proving themselves to be excellent motivators and tacticians, faced a dip, and was sacked.
They are also the two managers many Arsenal fans hoped would be the next coach on the Red side of North London. (It wasn’t to be, as we all know, and it pains me that I might root for Real Madrid on Saturday.)
Klopp and Tuchel proved they could punch above their weight, in the Bundesliga, with Klopp famously winning two league titles before Bayern went all Temple-of-Doom and cut out his team’s heart with a wad of cash. (And why is it there have been rumors about Lewandowski switching teams every year since?)
High-End Club Football in Europe is a ruthless game, and even managers/head coaches with proven track records, and loads of talent, can end up sacked if they’re not careful. (Chelsea is living proof that just getting fired does not make you a bad coach.)
Which brings us to Unai Emery.
My lede-quote says it all, in that he went on record yesterday as espousing all those philosophies: pressing, possession, and offensive/aggressive football. (We want to see some PROTAGONISTS on the pitch, bitches!)
He’s famous for his research and preparation, has won trophies with consistency, and is known, (Pre-PSG,) for leading teams with less talent, and smaller budgets, to punch above their weight.
For the foreseeable future, and maybe forever, Arsenal will have less resources, and presumably less talent, than Manchesters City and United, and likely Chelsea too. If Liverpool keep selling players for 140 million pounds pound a pop, they’ll also leap-frog us in purchasing power.
One way to increase the bottom line is to increase a player’s quality. It’s called development, and is all the rage in the NBA, including being the entire-current-business-model of my beloved Brooklyn Nets.
In hiring Sven Mislintat, Arsenal telegraphed that they would again be OK with being a selling club. It will reverse the last big move of the late-Wenger era, when we signaled that we would no longer sell off our best players to rivals. (After the poaching of the likes of Cole, Clichy, Nasri, and finally Van Persie, the fans were ready to riot.)
Just like our stadium-building effort came at perhaps the wrong time, (as petro-cash flooded the league,) Arsenal stopped selling players just when it became chic and smart to do so.
Look at the money to be made in buying low and selling high!
All you have to do is make cheap players into expensive players, through development, and/or placing them in the proper environment. (Dembele at Dortmund being a prime example.)
Tottenham and Liverpool are sitting on respective gold mines, which will fuel their next rebuilds. (If they eventually sell, as expected.) If Mo Salah could fetch a quarter of a billion pounds, then once Liverpool win some hardware, they’ll sell, and use that money to increase their lead on us.
Unless we get in on the same action. And we just did.
Emery, like Klopp before him, has a chip on his shoulder. He knows he’s better than his last exit, and is hard-core-eager to prove it.
He’s meticulous, and will most certainly improve this team with preparation and organization. Plus, there’s no way AFC would have hired him unless they were willing to back him in any impending power struggles with players.
Never-would-they-ever hire him if they planned to let him get undermined, as apparently happened with Neymar in Paris. (Ask any professor: all it takes is one asshole skeptic in the room to change the power dynamic entirely.)
So here we are.
Unai Emery will improve the team in general, through his methods, and each player, individually, through a personal development plan. Sven will find him cheap, raw, potential-mega-talent, which he’ll improve, and we’ll then sell off to try to catch up to (and hopefully pass) the Top 4.
I’m excited for this new chapter, and feel optimistic that it just might work. But whatever you do, I implore you, don’t think about Emery’s record vs. Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
Just. Don’t. Do it.