Walk, don’t run, over to The Tactical Room for a great interview with Unai Emery

I caused a bit of controversy yesterday when I called out Get French Football for their unauthorized publication of an interview by Marti Perarnau. Perarnau is a journalist and author who is best known for his books on Pep Guardiola – Pep Confidential* and Pep Guardiola: the Evolution. Perarnau also operates his own web site and publishes an excellent paper and electronic magazine called The Tactical Room. Subscription to The Tactical Room is a mere 4 Euros per month and is well worth it for the excellent content that they provide.

Marti’s site is a bit of an outlier in that we live in a world of fast media, quick hits, hot takes, and twitter conversations. In our modern condition, the President of the United States causes a tweet storm every single day, which is quickly pounced upon, memes are made, and before the spittle is even dried on his lips, we’ve moved on to the next controversy.

This phenomenon is often denounced as the “fast” news cycle but I’m not sure that accurately describes what’s going on here. Yes, the President of the United States tweets out crazy-making statements every day but he’s only making one or two comments. What we are actually seeing is a proliferation of un-original content. It’s not the tweets. It’s that we have become a retweet culture.

There are whole news sites dedicated to re-writing and re-posting other people’s work. When I was a newspaper boy back in the 80s our local newspaper had dozens of reporters working on original content. The last time I checked that same paper it was 90% AP Wire reports.

What we have seen change in the last few years is a further degradation of news. The AP consolidation of reporting has given way to copy-paste reporting. So, instead of the Associated Press writing the article, every article on Arsenal.com is re-written by hundreds of news sites every day and presented as if it were a new article.

Real work, original work, is rare these days. In a world where people copy-paste other people’s work as if it was their own, or “translate” a work with almost no attribution, those original works are valuable.

Marti Perarnau has deliberately abandoned the twitter-copy-paste-meme news style of the last decade and gone back to a slower style of news. His site proudly displays the quote (among others) “En la sociedad de la prisa, el que camina despacio camina solo” attributed to Josep Cunill. It translates as “In a hasty society, he who walks slowly, walks alone” and I take it as a mission statement for his work.

In issue 42 of the Tactical Room, Perarnau gives us an original interview with Unai Emery. It is an amazing interview and gives us great insight into Emery as a man, tactician, and philosopher. Unfortunately, this work was copied and pasted into a for-profit post on Get French Football’s news site. It’s originally a Spanish language article so why it is on a French football news site?

Well, they stole it from a web site called “CulturePSG” who stole it from Marti Perarnau’s website and published it in French. Interestingly, both sites believe that they are performing some sort of transformative act, making it legal for them to take the works, by simply translating the piece into a different language. I don’t think this is the case. I’m sure that neither site would want me to start copying and pasting their work without links, no matter what language I put it in.

When I first encountered the article, Get French Football’s translation didn’t even link to Marti Perarnau’s site or his twitter and didn’t include a link for where they got the article. They mentioned that Perarnau was the author but that was it as far as attribution. That set off alarms for me that they had done something shady.

So, I googled and found the original article, in the first link.

I called them out on Twitter and they have since added a link to Marti Perarnau’s twitter account (which is incredible since I sent them the link to the original article) and a link to the French language translation (which is their “source”). I’m sure if Marti Perarnau wanted to sue them he could and he would at least win the right to have those articles taken down.

That last bit is actually a huge part of the problem. Suing people over stolen articles like this is expensive and generally doesn’t win you much money. So, the best case scenario is that you play “whack-a-mole” and keep hitting people with DMCA complaints (or similar complaints in Europe) and getting your work taken down off the offender’s web site. It’s a never-ending game for copyright holders. I know, because I’ve had a lot of my work stolen over the years.

I also know why GFF and Culture PSG published their translations: this is a great interview of a manager who has just switched from a small French club to one of the biggest clubs in Europe. As far as I know, there are no English-language interviews that go into as much depth with Unai Emery as this interview does and so it’s a huge click-boon to these sites. I’d bet this is one of the most popular articles on GFF’s site this spring.

As for the interview itself: I purchased a month of access (and I speak/read some Spanish) but I don’t have rights to publish Perarnau’s article here in English. I have reached out to him to find out how much he wants for just such access and I will follow up on this if I hear anything from him. Heck, he should just do an end-around and publish the damn thing on his site, in English, and with links to subscribe to his magazine.

I will say this about the interview: Perarnau shows Emery to be a thoughtful, experienced coach. And he even gives us insight into his coaching methods and philosophies – for example, he has a number of set plays that he introduces to the team and he talks about the importance of the modern defensive midfielder being more than just a sentinel when your team has 70% of the possession. It’s a delicate balance between build-up and running backward!

The full interview is only available via a password protected Spanish language PDF after you purchase access. That means that you can’t just OCR it or copy-paste and have Google translate it for you. Sorry, but until Marti Perarnau releases an English Language version, or sells someone the rights to publish such an article, there’s no access to this article.

Like I said, I take that quote about walking while others run around in haste around you as almost a mission statement. And good for him sticking to it.


*This is an Amazon associates link which pays me a small portion when you shop at Amazon after clicking this link.


  1. I was redirected to it and read it from a link on Arseblog, before reading here that there was a plagiarism issue here.
    I don’t recall if Arseblog did acknowledge the source, assumng they even knew it in the first place, but obviously he should have been acknowledged as author and referenced, and the article not lifted if it was behind a paywall.
    Read in innocence, it’s a brilliant article and the first I’ve read where a manger really opens up on his methods and tactics and assessments of players to the press. Made me v v excited at the prospect of Emery’s proactive methods and thinking being applied in N7.

    1. Andrew linked to the article? I just did a brief search and didn’t find that. Can you show me where? I’d like to chat with Blogs about it because him and I literally just went after someone about lifting one of my articles off Arseblog a few days back and I’m sure he will take down any link to a stolen article.

      1. Yup, Simon got the right article, but the link still puts you through to the GFFN page when I clicked it just now.

  2. Tim, I applaud your principled stand on this. Part of my career as a journalist was as a freelance. It sucks a lot of the time, frankly. Pay is an issue. Commissioning is done at the drop of a hat, payment not so readily. And of course, other folks pirating your work is an ever-present threat.

    So well done, sir.

    I have, however, already read the e/v of the article, without realising that it had been re-published without permission. And what it had to say about Emery’s thoughts on DM, makes me think that (1) he’ll work with Xhaka to make him a better player (2) he likes a midfield three — a box-to-box, an orthodox/sitting/destroyer/defensive-minded DM, and a passer/conductor. I expect that, tactically, he’ll play Xhaka, Ramsey and AN Other. The person best suited to that role, if he doesn’t go into the market, is Elneny.

    I’m really excited to see how he’d develop AMN, Kolasinac, Holding and Iwobi in particular.

    1. Claude,
      Inexperience aside, don’t you think AMN is better suited to make up the three than Elneny?

      1. Sorry, bro, just seeing this…

        Yes…. yes. I thought you know that his skillset falls on the attacking side of the line, and goodness knows that we have enough of that.

        But your question reminded me of comments Arsene made, so I’ll argue against myself slightly, Arsene said something to the effect that he’s a very clean tackler and ball-winner. I cant find that quote, but I found this from Wenger, after the Ostersunds game…

        “(DM is) his natural position. I think 80 per cent of his game was good, and I feel he can win the ball back well. Defensively he’s quite strong, he’s got good acceleration…”

        He’s a fantastic athlete, and I was rather struck by Pogba publicly acknowledging that he gave him a game in midfield.

        So yeah, I’d say he is.

        (But why has Elneny been given the No. 4 shirt, fgs? I know squad numbers are not THAT important in the long run. Gallas was our 10 at one point 😀 )

        1. I agree with the composition of players you had for midfield.. But both AMN and elneny doesnt seem like a good fit for the deep lying/destroyer type unless they develop their defensive side immensely. I personally would prefer a wanyama type. Since emery like that midfielder to drop, aerial and physical prowess along with the defensive abilitiy would help the two CB a lot. Or go santi type. Torriea i think from Sampdoria linked with us is not a bad option too.

  3. Good on you Tim. I’m feeling a bit of excitement with Emery coming in and looking forward to good results building the intensity of expectations. I truly appreciate what Arsene Wenger did for the club but the last 2 years have been blah as far as getting hopes up goes. I think walking rather than running towards the new Arsenal is not a bad way to ease into the new era.

  4. I dunno how much truth there is in this but I could see Emery being interested as PSG did try the same loan/buy deal for Fabinho last summer alongside Mbappé but couldn’t push it through as they were worried about FFP sanctions.

    Is it just me or is their midfield now kinda freighting with Fabinho & Keita joining the ranks. What an upgrade on the likes of Henderson, & Can

    1. Liverpool know how to fix a problem. Arsenal do not. Like I said in the last thread, we’re in for another underwhelming transfer window. Even when they didn’t have CL football on offer, they spent big on problem areas. We will not, and, unfortunately, we’ll likely pay.

    2. Absolutely frightening.
      Winaljdum (sp?), Lallana, and the Ox (and even Milner ffs) are pretty decent in there too.

      They’re looking really, really good. If you compare our business to their business since Henry & co took them over, or even just since Klopp arrived, they’ve absolutely destroyed us in the transfer market, comings and goings. And despite Tom’s skepticism about how much money they have left to spend, I don’t think they’re close to done this summer.

  5. Liverpool confirm a signing of a coveted DM within 24 hours of the rumor breaking, while we continue to dally over the signing of the error-prone Sokratis. We never change.

    1. Bun it’s a small point and it sucks watching rivals buy good players, but Arsenal only just hired their new manager, and in general we are much sharper on transfers than we have been in the past.

      Just because one rumour breaks earlier than another does not mean either that Arsenal are “dallying” or that Liverpool were super-quick. Fabinho for 40M is not an impulse purchase, and it seems that when Arsenal inquired about him he was already sold.

      Meanwhile the clubs are in different positions. Liverpool are still flush with Coutinho cash and were just in the CL final. We finished 6th and are on a budget.

      And beyond that, are Liverpool now “dallying” over Fekhir? Did they “dally” over Van Dijk, which was all over the press for six months?

      It’s all too simplistic.

      1. Yeah agree with this. I think it’s unfair to say we don’t know how to fix our issues after the way we rejigged the attacking half of the team for basically zero transfer and wage increase. If the rumours are correct, 15-20m for experienced CB and backup RB is good value while addressing areas of need. The more expensive purchases can follow, maybe even after sales. As long as we get the transfers in before July 2nd (ideal) or August 9th (the last date) it is all good.

        However, I think, like Jonathan mentioned in his article about selling well and how we’ve stopped selling at just the wrong time carries some significance. I’m not sure blame needs to be attached to Arsenal for that because we’d all lost the appetite for letting our best players go, and really it is through selling that Liverpool have managed to build a good squad. Because they embraced their position in the market. I think we need to do the same now.

        One of the advantages of the new structure can be that a wantaway player (not in his final year) won’t necessarily down tools completely. We used to sell any guy who wanted out because of the effect on morale. But the division of labour could help the coach to put it on the money men. Like ‘yes I want to let you go and I think the fee offered was fair, but these transfer guys didn’t listen. Give it your best and I’ll keep trying to get them to agree a fee before the next transfer window.’

        So the new structure might help in selling as well as in the buying, which is the part we’re usually most focused on.

        For now though, I don’t think we have any assets that we should sell that will draw in a lot of money. Mustafi, Ospina, Welbeck maybe. Ramsey if he doesn’t sign. Plus some loaness and fringe players. That could still lead to a significant boost to our transfer budget and I’m sure the club will be exploring that in consultation with Emery. And surveying the market for what they can bring in for those values, which is what leads to the rumours. We may just be browsing rather than buying at this point.

        1. Emery will increase the value of these assets, watch. Mustafi, Xhaka, Perez, Elneny, Campbell et al are all worth less now than when we purchased them but I have faith that just one year with Emery will improve all of these guys and other teams will take notice. Wenger used to be the master at this until recent years. I’m not worried at all about what Liverpool are doing, we have to have our eye on a longer term project.

          Year 1 – install new regime, see who fits and who doesn’t, cull the losers and develop the youth. Try and stay competitive and take a fair crack at Europa League
          Year 2 – sell appreciated but aging assets, integrate more U23 youth into starting 11 and first team, add one or two major transfers maybe, add more prospects, aim for top 4 finish
          Year 3 – back in the mix with the big boys

          1. Yea, I’m not sure most Arsenal fans will go along with your laid back, easy going 3 year plan.
            I have a sneaking suspicion if we aren’t back in the CL places by year 2 , Emery will be labeled a failure, folks who wanted Arteta will say they were right in their choice, and Wenger supporters will say we told you so.
            This is Arsenal fandom we are talking about here after all.

          2. I would be very much happy if he can do it in two. Auba, ozil, micki will be on the wrong side after 3 years.. i know we can replace them with the value Emery wud have created by then. But i would like the team to win something with this bunch,

      2. VVD transfer wasn’t simply about Liverpool meeting the right asking price.
        Southampton didn’t want to sell their star defender mid season while facing relegation threat.

        With Keita, VVD and Fabinho transfers eating up pretty much all of their Coutinho and CL prize money, it will be interesting to see how much more they are willing to spend and if they go for a new keeper.

        I’m willing to sit back and reserve my judgment on Arsenal transfers until they’re done. Too early to render any fact based opinion yet.

      3. Fair enough. I got caught up in the disappointment and lost perspective. Still, hard not to feel that we’re going to have an underwhelming window, comparatively.

  6. Cheers Tim. I felt guilty by association because I put the link to GFF on here. Never thought anything about plagiarism. It’s a fair point, and also has the larger social element to it as you mention. Will try to keep it in mind and be more aware in the future.

    It was a good interview and the interviewer deserves credit for that. It also made me feel better about Emery and what he intends to achieve with Arsenal.

  7. Thoughts on Sokratis, who looks likely?

    Mine are…

    1. His surname isn’t going to fit on the back of his shirt

    2. He plays like John Terry, and seems of similar stature

    3. He seems to have a bit of bastard about him. Me likee.

    We need players who can come into the starting XI right away. Im not part of the “get rid of Mustafi” drumbeat, nor am I convinced that we’ll turn him out after losing Per and Koscielny. Continuity. And he did improve a bit towards season’s end.

    No Jonny Evans, please (looking at you, Shard 😉 ). He was part of a cr** defence that sent West Brom down. Defenders who are used to playing with/for error-prone sides will make them at crucial stages.

    1. Or they will not make them as often. Anyway, Evans is not like my first choice. I have a cr** knowledge of CBs who would fit our needs is all. Anyone better than Evans is welcome.. As is anyone better than Mustafi. Hey, we might even see Chambers blossom.

      Evans at 3m though is not a terrible purchase if our budget is limited. Because he’s experienced (he also knows what it takes at a big club as a young player and this would help our young CBs) and he’s a good reader of the game. Maybe not as good as Per, but also not as slow. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not actively hoping we buy him.

      But I do have a tough time reposing faith in Mustafi right now. Especially because Sokratis and he both seem to have similar rather than complimentary styles.

      Maybe they can curve the surname (Papastathopoulos) around his number like they did with V.Bronckhorst 🙂 Though they’ll just call him Sokratis.

      Soyuncu said he’s in talks with Arsenal. Do you think that is in addition to, or instead of Sokratis? He’s reported to cost around 35m.

      1. Fair comment on Evans for 3m. At that price, I’d buy.

        Don’t know much about Soyuncu. At this point, I’m going to put faith in the new regime. I’m not going to be one of those gooners who works himself into a lather over transfers this early in the reign of the new manager. That said, I really liked Fabinho, and Im disappointed that he’s going to Liverpool.

        To your comment last thread about Sven needing to get out more, I liked this from Arseblog today…

        “……it’s going to require something more than Sven going back through his dog-eared Dortmund Rolodex.” DWL.

        Mustafi is used to the tempo of the EPL, and that’s important. I wouldnt want to run with two brand new centre back imports from the off. I’d even be fine with Holding or Chambers leapfrogging him, but they’d have already done so if they were better. There’s also the all important understanding with the goalkeeper…. where we definitely need a refresh, and who might also be new. Sigh.

        1. In the short term I’d take Sokratis + Evans over Sokratis + Mustafi any day of the week. He’s a steal at 3m, unless he’s asking for a huge salary.

          1. I’d trade Mustafi in too, don’t get me wrong, PFo. Plus And Evans at 3m would seem a no-brainer.

            Not so sure about the straight swap you’d have, though. I have doubts about whether he has the quality to merit a straight insertion into an Arsenal first-choice centre back pairing. West Brom were the first team relegated, and finished rock bottom of the league. Maybe he was a diamond in the crap. Likely not. He was part of a terrible defence. Buy him? Yes, of course. Insert him straight in? Hmmm.

            Two brand new imports in central defence is asking for trouble. Laurel and Hardy trouble. Which we are trying to get rid of by replacing an error-prone Mustafi.

            But all those 2 things apart, the bigger question is whether he is REALLY an upgrade on Mustafi? The question is only being asked because youd swap one for the other.

            I wouldn’t — based on price and a persuasive argument from Shard — be averse to our trying to acquire him. So, what is your case for why the defensive leader of the worst club in the league is better than an error-prone Mustafi, who closed out the season well (but who has one calamitous brainfart in him every third game or so).

            My friendly challenge… make your case. If you want to say “anyone would be better than Calamity Mustafi”, fair enough.

          2. “I’d trade Mustafi in” in a perfect world, I should have said (I did make the argument a few comments up that he’s worth keeping, so yes, I contradicted myself slightly).

            But in the world we currently live in (no Kos, no Per), I’d keep him. He was a German international, so he isn’t crap. It would be interesting to see how he responds to precise, tactics-driven coaching from Emery.

            If we were getting a Mats Hummels level defender, then…

        2. I’m fairly convinced Mustafi is staying with us. I think Emery can work with him – he speaks Spanish, is quick enough to cover wide for fullbacks who’ve bombed up the field and plus we’re going to see more emphasis on proper DM play in front of him.

          I’m also convinced that Papastathopoulos is being brought in to mentor his fellow Greek, Mavrapanos.

          Back line will be Monreal/Mustafi/Papastathopoulos/Bellerin, with Kolasinac/Chambers/Mavrapanos/Lichtsteiner as back-ups. Holding to go out on loan, possibly. Koscielny probably kept on ice until January, no rush.

          It’s not a spectacular defensive corps, but should be solid.

    2. He goes by ‘Sokratis’ on the back and yeah, he’s a bastard, been some time since we had our own dirtbag.

      1. Arsenal have a “surnames only” jersey policy… it’s an odd thing to like, but I do.

        1. Nah, they put “Alexis” on the back of Sanchez’s shirt, so I think they’ll be fine with Sokratis.

          1. Ok. That should be “had”, then.

            Phew. So the letters printing office would have to charge me more for a Sokratis jersey.

  8. Jack makes an excellent point upthread, about rebuilding.

    It starts by recognising what we are not — and that is a club that will attract top drawer talent. We got lucky with Aubameyang, because his falling out of BVB was really bad, and at the point at which he joined, we had a shot at winning Europa and qualifying for the Champions League.

    YEAR 1
    — is going to be wheel and deal. Bring in inexpensive Arteta-type signings, experienced and with little sell-on value, who can do a job now
    — Develop and integrate youngsters. AMN, Iwobi, Holding etc
    — Revitalise struggling players. Mustafi, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Xhaka
    — Develop and raise the level of squad players. Elneny, Chambers, and yes, Wilshere if he stays
    — Lock down your OOC stars. Ramsey, and probably even Welbeck
    — Qualify Top 4. A must, to…

    YEAR 2
    — Chase bigger name transfer targets
    — Target the league title itself

    That’s striking a realistic developmental balance between where we are, and where a club of our stature should expect to be. Signing the Fabinhos, Dembeles and Lemars of this world, now, is going to be difficult. We stand a better chance of turning Maitland-Niles into a 45m player.

    1. I agree with this timeline more than Jack’s 3 year plan. Though I liked his comment and appreciate the thought process.

      I would expect Top 4 to be part of Emery’s mandate. If we miss out because we just couldn’t make it but still looked good, that’s fine. But top 4 should be, and I think will be the aim for this season. No point having the attackers at their peak if you aren’t even aiming for that. And I’m not sure how valuable these players will be if we don’t make top 4 with them (none of them are spring chickens)

      The defense needs to be strengthened for which we expect Sven to do his (non Dortmund) thing. The EL’s group stage will help again with youth development. But we must look to get back to the CL. And I believe we can realistically hope to.

      1. Best advice I ever heard was 1) Write down your goals, 2) Decide on what processes or daily actions would lead to you achieving your goals. 3) Throw out and forget your goals and just keep the processes.

        That’s because when you set hard targets you might still miss them (for whatever reason) despite being very successful in the grand scheme of things.

        That’s what I’m suggesting in my more “relaxed” three year plan… let’s get the winning, professional, super-prepared culture straightened out, let’s get the club ethos of finding and developing young talent established, let’s get the new style of Arsenal (protagonistas!) off the ground and see where it takes us and not worry right now about placings.

        If we still finish 6th next year (a strong possibility if you’re being honest, given the strength of the league), but show improvement and movement towards a new Arsenal, I’ll be happy. Even in Year 2, so long as what’s been installed is demonstrating progress.

        I think more than anything what frustrated Arsenal fans the last few years was not the lack of trophies (we did win 3 FA Cups in 4 years) it was the devolution of our play and very clear stalling while other teams were very clearly improving around us.

        I’m not sweating top 4. I think it’s a possibility, but I am not going to worry about it. And I don’t think IRS will either. Let’s just get this train moving in the right direction.

        1. You can bet your Iowa farm (wink) that Top 4 is Emery’s remit from the CEO and board. What’ll satisfy us as fans, is another matter. And on what I’d be happy to see, I’m largely with you. Finishing out of the Top 4 WOULD be disappointing, but I’d cut the new Head Coach some huge slack on that.

          An Arteta as coach signing gets you that kind of 3 year honeymoon, at least from the fans. An Emery does not. At least one trophy should be a realistic target, even if it’s the League Cup.

          More intriguingly, I don’t think we’ll see another manager make even 7 years at the club. I think that, along with the structure change, the performance against KPIs culture will kick in too. Gazidid strikes me as someone who doesn’t miss a single edition of Harvard Business Review.

          1. If it’s been Arteta I would have gone with a 5 year plan – we’d have needed 2 years just for Arteta to learn on the job and to figure out how to manage players that were his teammates just 2 years ago.

            I’m worried, I hear hard expectations already being set (“at least one trophy”). I’m all for the silverware. But all of our main competitors either have more money and/or have established managers. Let’s be sensible and just look for solid improvement from last year, not a revolution.

        2. Who gave you that advice? I ask because that sounds very much like Krishna’s advice to Arjun in the Bhagvad Gita. To do his ‘karma’* without worrying about the ‘fruit’ (outcome)

          *(Often translated as duty or what you’re supposed to do, but it is closer in meaning to ‘what you were put on this Earth to do’)

          I like it 🙂

          And I agree with you.

          1. A former boss of mine. Unfortunately, I’m going to bet he stole it from somewhere. (He was fond of passing off Warren Buffett quotes as his own).

  9. Really great headline on this article Tim. Reminds me of the punchline to the old joke about a young bull and an old bull standing at the top of a hill gazing at a beautiful herd of heifers.

    Some real nuggets from the interview – his thoughts on the DM position are interesting because PSG have been one of the most fluid teams at building up play during his and Ancelotti’s time there. He suggests that a great midfielder’s defensive flaws count for less when he’s in a team that dominates possession, as long as the team makes that possession count. If he valued Thiago Motta, he will value Granit Xhaka.

    The bit about PSG not getting credit for some of the world-class team goals they scored is another really really excellent point. They put together some of the best moves that led to goals I saw anywhere in Europe. Forget about people writing off Ligue 1 as “farmer’s league”, Emery thought because they were doing it in Ligue I, the players maybe didn’t take as much confidence from those moments that they should have. And that lack of confidence in their pure footballing ability showed in their CL eliminations against the Big 2 Spanish clubs.

    Emery’s grasp of detail and granular insight into the psychological aspect of the game is just as interesting as his tactical insights learnt from the great La Liga coaches he references throughout. Marti Perarnau really knows how to ask a coach a question! Shame the English translation came from those ethically-challenged folks at GFFN. They’ve always been sketchy with their accreditation.

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