The Arsenal board needs to correct their mistake, immediately

Another insipid performance. Another poor result. And now we wait. And while we wait for the board to figure out who replaces Emery, that gives us a little time to unpack the 17 months that we have just been through.

Looking back is depressing. Emery promised so much when he was announced. I wrote then that I felt like he’d sold the board on him as the next manager because he’d “lit up their eyes with dollar signs” by giving them the infamous “individual dossiers” on how he was going to improve the players.

But as cynical as I was I wanted it to be true. You have to remember where we were when Wenger left: Ozil divided opinion, Xhaka divided opinion, Kolasinac made people angry, Mustafi made people angry, even young talents like Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, and others needed to get their careers back on track.

So, yeah, I wanted a coach who could spend all of his time coaching young players. Making them better. Getting the best out of older players like Ozil, Xhaka, and Ramsey. I wrote a piece before he signed on how he could bring Ozil into the modern era by getting him to play defense.

That was the other thing that I wanted from Emery: I wanted him to shore up the defense. He specifically promised a high press. That was an intoxicating promise. Imagine a front three of Ozil, Lacazette, and Aubameyang, camping out in the opponent’s box, winning the ball in dangerous positions, getting lots of chances.

We didn’t get that.

We got a team that actually sat back all the time. Let the opponents come onto us in waves. And that had a “Real DM” in Torreira but either almost never played him or put him in weird positions.

But probably the biggest crime was that Emery sacrificed attack. I have been writing about this topic for a year. I’ve been telling you that the attack at Arsenal wasn’t good enough but what did I get in return? “Stats don’t tell the whole story”, “the only stat that matters is the League table”, and people saying we needed to give Emery more time. He got more time and you know what he did with it? He made us worse in every aspect.

The stats didn’t change, the results did. In fact, none of it worked out. Instead we got treated to weird lineup changes. Half-time subs that damaged player’s confidence. Playing the only DM on the team in forward positions. Fights with Ozil. Fights with Ramsey. Fights with Koscielny. Fan unrest. And all along, nothing working out the way that he said it would.

He kept telling us to “trust the process” and some of us kept asking “what process??”

I’m not trying to score points on anyone here. Instead, I want to just say that as a writer I’ve felt highly policed by my fellow fans over the last four years but especially since Emery arrived. If I say that a player has a bad game, people come back with some weird stuff about how “real supporters support”. The club even got in on that action – which, of course they would because they don’t want us to be critics, they want us to be cheerleaders. I’m not going to be a cheerleader for a multinational business, unless they pay me to do it.

But worse than the offhanded dismissals of criticism, there has been a rhetorical move toward conflating any criticism of a match performance, any criticism of a player, any criticism of the manager, as being the same as the people who go on a player’s instagram and threaten a player and his family. This is what I mean by “policing”. People out there shouting down any criticism by making it the same as death threats.

I’m not talking about challenging someone’s argument, provoking thought, or good faith debating. I’m talking about ad hominem attacks. And I do find it ironic that some of the same folks who equate any criticism of a player as the same as death threats have no problem being utter pricks to writers.

You know what I’d like to see going forward?

First, an end of people saying “that’s not how fans act” and also at the same time stop saying “Arsenal fans are the worst”. People are going to be jerks, people are going to boo players, people are going to go on Instagram timelines and say awful things, people are going to vote for Trump, people are going to be racist. Absolutely call out that behaviour but stop conflating that awful behaviour with simple criticism and then couching that in some vague morality about fandom.

I get it, you need to signal to the world how virtuous you are. How you’re a true fan as opposed to anyone who has any criticism. Cool story, bro.

Of course, that’s just a gripe I have. It’s annoying. The real thing that Arsenal need is to hire a manager who will get Arsenal winning again. Once that happens a lot of the internecine fighting and morality policing will fall away.

And to get us winning, I think there are two tracks here. The first is pretty simple: organize the defense, play our best players as much as possible, play players in positions that they are best at, and find ways to compensate for player’s deficiencies. That formula means playing Ozil, who is clearly Arsenal’s most talented footballer. That also means playing Torreira as a DM, not as some sort of ghost forward.

And that means getting the defense to try to actively win the ball back. As far as I can tell, Emery’s game plan is to win the ball back by letting the opponent shoot. Yesterday, Wolves took 25 shots but were only dispossessed 8 times and Arsenal only had 6 interceptions.

That may actually be a more “medium-term” project at Arsenal. That might take a few months to get organized, though hopefully not the remaining 27 matches.

But long term, Arsenal also have major problems. They need a coach who can help with our passing. Our passing football has been bad for at least 5 years and has regressed under Emery. I’m not talking about the type of possession where the center backs pass the ball around in a circle near their own goal, I mean passing with the purpose of moving the ball into shooting positions. We seem to lack a structure that allows us to pass and also defend. The best teams do this (they also commit cynical fouls) and it’s got to be our number one priority.

We don’t have to spend billions to achieve this. Leeds United haven’t spent a single dime in two years. In fact, they have earned about £7m in the last two seasons and they play possession football. Yes, they have failed at the last hurdle but they aren’t the only team in the world who have a coach that teaches them how to play with the football: Bayer Leverkusen do it (they have other problems, but they are able to pass the ball), Ajax do it, and so on. And it doesn’t take two years to get teams playing good football.

Leeds brought in Bielsa and went from 18th in the Championship, a team that completed 73% of their passes, scored 59, conceded 64 to a team that completed 79% of their passes, had 59% of possession, scored 73, and conceded 50. And this season they have improved on their strengths: 81% passing, 59% possession, and conceded just 8 goals in their first 15 games.

It’s not impossible to improve a team almost right away with almost zero investment. Wenger literally did it for a decade.

Bielsa (he’s out of contract in 2020), Ten Hag (2022), Allegri (available), even Rafa Benitez all could organize Arsenal in a few months. But I’ll leave that up to the board to pick. Hopefully, through an exhaustive process that looks at the numbers behind the manager’s success, that watches his best and worst games, that talks to fans from that club, that speaks to people who knew that manager in a professional capacity but didn’t work for him.

The signs were there for Emery before he was hired. There’s a thread on twitter – a fucking fan, dude – that accurately predicted everything we are seeing now. I had my misgivings when he was picked but the only stat I could find that seemed negative was that his teams have always been error-prone (just one exception, his 2nd season at PSG).

If the “brain trust” had done their homework they would have known that he played frantic football, that his ideas weren’t very clear, that he picked fights with players, that he was passive-aggressive, and that many of his players didn’t listen to him or understand his vision.

I even watched some of his old matches, the successful ones, and I can tell you that at his best, his teams played like Arsenal did the other day in the 5-5 loss to Liverpool. I can also tell you that he had incredible attacking talent (Mata, Villa, Silva) and would make bizzarro substitutions and try to sit back and soak up pressure without proactively winning the ball back.

I think it’s clear that the board didn’t do their due diligence in hiring this guy. Everyone is blaming Gazidis and he certainly deserves some opprobrium but remember that this was a “unanimous” decision of the board. That means Raul, Vinai, and Sven all approved of this guy.

I’m fine with Arsenal hiring an interim coach. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say I’m fine with Arsenal finishing 7th or 8th this season – because it means we won’t have the distraction of European football next year. But the board needs to spend some time researching and vetting, then recruiting the next coach of Arsenal football club. We need a coach for five years, not another two year appointment.

Everything is in place for the next coach to be successful: the defense has two outstanding fullbacks and a good mix of youth and experience in the middle. The midfield has outrageous young talent in Willock, Guendouzi, and others and even has a guy who will sacrifice everything for the team in the DM role. And up front, every coach in world football would be drooling over an attacking foursome of Ozil, Auba, Lacazette and Pepe.

Every coach except Unai Emery.

Considering what he’s been given and what he did with it, this coach has been an astonishing failure. Let’s hope the board corrects their mistake, immediately.



  1. Fantastic Article, the very feeling I have about the club now. We need a stop-gap and then we need a process to find the best attacking coach who can organise defense.

    1. Emery needs to be sacked now. We have 27 games to play. With a good Coach (Mourinho, Allergri,or Viera) and the players we have now.,Arsenal must make big 4. 1.Leno 2 chambers(Bellerin) 3. Tierney or Kolasinac 4 Luiz 5 pop 6 Toreira(Chambers) 8 Goundouzi and 4 talented players in the front Ozil,Pepe, Lacazette,Obameyang.

      1. Mourinho should no longer be classified as a “good coach”, and Vieira has not yet proved he is one.

      2. No, to all three.

        Love Vieira, but Nice stink right now and he didn’t do much with NY Red Bulls either.

        Allegri is overrated – you want pragmatic, 1-0 wins, coaching, he’s your man. And English is a huge problem.

  2. This is an accurate view of our current reality, especially the fan part.
    Enjoy reading many of your pieces, even when I disagree with you.

  3. Yeah I completely agree with you, I 100% thought we’d get a young manager with good a football philosophy. I had my hopes on Nieglesman, Arteta and Howe, Arteta almost getting the job if it wasnt an 11th hour Emery intervention. But unfortunately interviews are a massive flaw in the process of hiring someone, simply because you can “con” the employer in an interview.

    Emery come in with these “legendary” dossiers, said all the things the board wanted to hear. You know a guy walks in does and says everything you want we would all 99% of the time hire them. Also he does have, fair play to the guy, experience and a decent C.V.

    We need to go back to the original plan do a Barca and give a young up and coming manager a chance. Look at all their great managers have all been relatively inexperienced Villanova, Rijkaard, Pep and Enrique they seem to struggle when hiring experienced managers like Van Gaal and Valverdie (granted Valverdie has won the league twice and cup).

    So in summary we need to change a manager, maybe sacrifice a few results to get back to at least having a philosophy. Our defence will get there with Holding Maybe Mavropanos and the impressive Saliba coming to the club. This side is good enough to finish in 3rd this season at the very least. We need to take more risks like the one me took with signing Guendouzi and Martinelli with our managerial appointment

  4. I don’t read all of your posts let alone the comments so surprised at the accusations you’ve faced. If AFTV and legrove are anything to go by we have the grottiest fans in world football who will never be pleased.

    Echo thr huge sense of disappointment re Emery. What a freaking opportunity. Nearly every coach would give their left nut for. The only area where I disagree is that if we have another season outside the champions league spots fan apathy will become too overwhelming for any new charge. Plus the best players will simply leave. If there’s anything to learn from the recent Xhaka incident it’s that fan patience and tolerance with under-performance is bankrupt.

    1. I think a new coach playing good football is all it will take to get fans on his side.

      Wenger had champions league football every year and the fan apathy was at an all time high.

      We have no business in the Champions League until we are good enough to challenge to win it.

      1. We see it differently.

        I think most fans would currently prioritise results over good football.

        The apathy in Wenger’s late years was not being in the competition but what we did with champions league football (take an annual shellacking in the last 16). It felt like we always repeated the same mistakes.

        As for being in it only if you have a chance of winning. Firstly 32 teams qualify with varying probabilities of success. Secondly, accepting where we currently are just getting in would represent year one progress as part of a continuous improvement plan. Or we could ask UEFA to suspend the tournament until we feel we’re ready 😉

      2. Agree 100% that the fans would accept time outside the champions league if it meant a positive rebuild. Leicester lost big players after winning the league and then dropped out of Europe altogether. Look at them now. It took a period with an uninspiring manager before they found their feet again. They now have an excellent coach and a canny scouting network. He has reinvigorated Vardy who was marginalised by Puel and they play attractive attacking football. In defence, they don’t seem to be missing Harry Maguire either. We would do well to bin our uninspiring coach and look to someone who can organise our defence without sacrificing what should be an awesome attacking line up.

      3. ‘We have no business in the Champions League until we are good enough to challenge to win it.’

        I know this is a common enough statement but it’s not really something I agree with. If the only teams that should be in the Champions League are the ones that have a chance of winning it then there should only be about 10 teams competing in it.

        I know people are still smarting over the drubbings we took against Bayern etc but I think being in the Champions League is something to aspire to, whether we can realistically win it or not. It raises the profile, makes it easier to sign players, and we get to go up against the best teams in Europe.

        Personally I’d always prefer to be in it.

        (You mentioned Blade Runner a while back and I meant to ask you if you’d seen the recent one).

  5. Maybe it’s because I’m not a writer, but I didn’t see a lot of fan-police on the forums I visit (mainly here and arseblog). If anything, there seems to be an abundance of critics. I’m curious where you got so much flak for criticizing the manager – was it on twitter? Platforms like that always bring out the most reactionary of fans.

    I agree (with the other 88% of the fans if going by arseblog’s twitter poll) Emery needs to be let go now. We are well past the point of no return. Even his post match interviews have become nonsensical. That’s always a bad sign. After the wolves match he claimed the team was able to execute their strategy. Err.. what? The strategy was to let the opposition shoot 25 times? It’s incredible how static we are possession. Off the ball movement is almost non existent. That is if we are able to pass the ball out of our own half in the first place. Most of time, I see Leno hanging on to the ball too long, trying to figure out who to pass/throw it to because our defenders have clearly not been instructed (or perhaps just wrongly instructed) on how to receive the ball from the keeper and move it forward to one of the midfield players. I also notice big gaps between either a) the defense and the midfield or b) the midfield and the forward players. We don’t stay compact and always seem vertically stretched.

    What are we doing right at the moment? Almost nothing. Maybe we have become better at set pieces – which would have been fine if it wasn’t the only area of improvement. I found Emery’s reference to corners on one of his post-match interviews more embarrassing than amusing.

    I really believed that he had the ability make this team better than what it is now. Perhaps I was sold on his theories but it’s painfully clear that his execution sucks.

  6. Another excellent piece – thanks, Tim. The Unai Emery was a huge false dawn after the emotional end of the Wenger era – perhaps The Last Manager manager in football.

    I was as energized by his arrival as anyone. I wasn’t thinking Premier League League titles but I was envisioning a Europa League trophy and/or a top 4 finish in a year or two and a return to the Champions League.

    I also believed Oxlade Chamberlain would become the player at Arsenal that he becoming at Liverpool. I believed that Wilshere would conquer his injury demons and fulfill his potential, especially after the famous Norwich team goal. I even believed Nik Bendtner would an asset to the team one day and have 15-20 goal season. WtF do I know?

  7. Evening from across the pond. Tim i wrote here a few weeks ago. I explained my current situation, you an 1 other responded. Both of you didn’t need to do that but you did. That simple act of kindness has transformed my life. Both me n my kid realised our drinking was out of control so we have cut down immeasurably. A true friend if mine read what i wrote and has backed me financially to get me back on my feet, with no caveat or conditions. Truly, and i say this as a 57 yr old man (10th of this month, nxt Sunday) you, yes you Tim are an inspiration and a credit to humanity. Your blogs whether about our beloved AFC (which i will come to anon) your beautiful relationship with your beautiful daughter or your battles with the booze are so honest, so forthright, so genuine, so pure that you should be up for whatever global blog prize is on offer (don’t know if there is such an award but if there is one they should award it to you) you and the other people who contribute here have, just by me reading everyday, made me realise what i have to offer. We are all special, we all have something to contribute to make the world a better place. Thankyou each an every one of you. Tim re your brilliant post today…Simple answer..Yes Emery OUT!! Thank you 1 an all

    1. It was just words, Tony, but I know how grateful I have been for the kindness of strangers. Be well.
      BTW, could you introduce me your friend?
      Baby needs a new pair of shoes:)

  8. I still think the problems run beyond the identity of the coach, particularly in midfield where we have lots of callow players with little experience playing together and in the PL in general. They are being outmuscled and tactically outmaneuvered by somewhat less talented but more physical players with years of experience playing together, savvy campaigners who have had nothing handed to them and have no fear of Arsenal anymore. These types of guys are killing us week after week. The coach can spin on his head telling Guendouzi and Xhaka and Torreira to win their duels, play out from the back with discipline and cohesion, and position themselves expertly in transitions, but a teacher cannot take the exam for his pupils. This team remains very much a work in progress, no matter who the coach is.

    Ultimately, Emery may simply not have the charisma and personality to engender belief among the supporters, which is a crucial aspect of his job as the face of an international billion dollar corporate entity. That’s probably the best reason to fire him. I do think his players are still playing for him and I have serious doubts that any lasting improvement can be had by simply chopping and changing. We would simply have different problems but achieve basically the same results, which is precisely what the appointment of Emery has done since Wenger’s resignation. This squad needs big time investment in midfield and at center back to propel it to the next level.

    1. Your last two sentences are why I was loathe to sack Emery this season. This team is going nowhere however and the changes that need to happen should best be started at the top because he is clearly not the man to take us forward.

      In his post-match comments he actually said the team had carried out his tactics well. Is there anything to say to that other than “on theway out, don’t let the door hit you in a$!”?

    2. While I agree that the problems stem from the middle of the park, I don’t agree that nothing can be done without signings to improve things. Emery’s answer seems to be flooding the midfield to try and make up the deficiencies, but three one-paced ball shuttlers with limited attacking output isn’t really an improvement on playing just one or two – there’s an opportunity cost to the rest of what the team can do that is readily visible in our attacking output.

      The wolves game is a case in point – to accommodate Ozil Emery felt the need to play all three of Ceballos, Geundouzi and Torriera. None of the three are particular incisive, none of the three offer much of a physical presence and the only one of the three with defensive attributes was out on the right side of the diamond. The result was Ozil dropping deep to get the ball and vacating the attacking midfield entirely, as the other three could not progress the ball themselves. Why play all three? Well, wolves weren’t quite as dangerous on the counter as last year, I guess. But for that we gave up most attacking ambition and played a narrow formation that gave them easy overloads on the vacated flanks.

      Our midfield is weak. It has been since Cazorla got injured. A new quality signing would be nice, but in the meantime some ambition is still required, and bringing in youngsters and full backs to try and hang on for a point against Wolves at home the very antithesis.

  9. Good ebening. How about this Mourinho being strongly linked? Christ Tim, can you set up dilligence office and show this board some of the damage he causes on and off the pitch?

    I am wondering here; would I go with mourinho or rather stick with Emery.. both are absolutely nightmare options. If Mourinho steps in, then what? Even as a thought its like going to a war. Its like someone would be eager to attack to your family and all you know is that you do all in your power, although you know there is nothing to be done. Its like a final stop on the line, last resort, something where nothing can be seen beyond. I’ve been reading these reports that he is about to step in and its like some telling that astoroid is coming to wipe us. Christ.

    1. Giving to job to Freddie, at least until the end of the season, seems way more preferable in my opinion.

  10. This is going to be a little all over the place, with frustration the theme….

    There was a point, mid-80s, when I really struggled to follow Arsenal. We were boring and bad – a fairly terrible combination. It feels like we were worse then than now, but maybe not so. We finished 3rd, then 4th in ’81 and ’82. In ’86 George Graham arrived, of course. Between that point we finished 10th, 6th, 7th, 7th. Not too different from the position we find ourselves in recently, except that the rewards can be different for finishing 5th-6th these days. We also had goal differences in that period of 2, 14, 12, and 2. Thereafter things got a lot better. It was ’89 until we won the league but for the first time since ’82 we began letting in less than 40 goals (in other words, 1 goal or less per game) every year from ’87 onwards (though 91-92 is an interesting outlier), and our goal difference improved significantly.

    I must admit to being torn between whether we really ought to be in the upper echelons of the 2nd tier (Champions League qualifiers but never winners, and League winners – only occasionally) or whether we’re kidding ourselves because the binary nature of a lot of internet interactions tells us so.

    I also think, however – written almost as if the previous paragraph doesn’t exist ( ! ), that Emery just has to go. His style of football is turgid, flat, and a kind of ‘anti-football’ we used to decry. Surely, denying Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe, Özil, Torreira, Willock, and others, the room to breathe, to be themselves as players, is itself ‘anti-football’.

    That fan tweet, which I saw myself only recently, only serves to underline why Emery surely has to go. It’s so prescient that the guy ought to be touting himself as some kind of football sage. I have no idea who should replace him, the same as I knew little of Emery except the fact he’d won 3 Europa League Cups and maybe done OK with PSG. I ought, I think, to have been sceptical of the ‘dossier’ from the get-go. In retrospect, isn’t improving players something that all managers would promise, to a degree – and isn’t that a part of their raison d’être? A ‘dossier’ might simply be the equivalent of the ‘look at the shiny thing!’ distraction. I now think that Emery is, and always was, out of his depth.

    I’m tired of Emery, tired of seeing our best players hamstrung, tired of seeing rifts between fans and management and players. Let’s move on.

  11. Mourinho: no f**king way. The man is a walking talking cancer who is morally bankrupt as a person. The club didn’t do their homework with Emery but Mourinho’s excrement is littered all over ever club he ever managed and is there for all to see. I’ll start with one Dr. Eva Carneiro and the list goes on and on and on.

  12. Mourinho should go to a ‘big’ club like Bayern Munich who in the CL rather come to our ‘small’ club who are only in the EL. No prestige in that Jose.

  13. I loved Blade runner for both the story and the look and feel the city. Many sci-fi movies have tried and failed to capture that futuristic urban decay and Blade Runner 2049 didn’t even try to go back there. Netflix’s Altered Carbon with Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs was the latest to try for Blade Runner’s grit and grime.
    Rutger Hauer’s replicant has more moral fiber and nobility than a Jose Mourinho as in manager’s role.

  14. Tim

    Interesting post. Thanks again. The whole idea that there is only one instruction manual for how to be a sports fan and how to interact on a blog seems unreasonable. I always thought the reason you discuss any subject is to find the right answer even if that answer is not complementary to the club. I agree with you and I don’t see the point of trying to cover up the right answer just because its not the one we want to hear but that’s just me. Plenty of other people disagree.

    I agree that its time to change managers. We are 6 points out of 4th place and fading fast. This team should be improving in the managers second year but I think its getting worse. IMO the team needs a shake up. I am not sure there is another manager who can get this squad to play the attractive flowing football we all hope for but I do believe the team defense and results can improve. We can’t sack the whole team and we need to go in a new direction.

  15. One step at a time. Just two, to begin with.

    First step is relieving Unai Emery of his position. Not worth pontificating on the next manager– unless the one we want is ready and willing. That manager IMO, isn’t among those available today.

    The second step is elevating Freddie Ljundberg into the spot of interim manager. It’s clear that Freddie has buy-in from the youth players. FJ also have a playing style that can be brought forward in short order. Most of the first- teamers have been exposed to it during cup comps. Those are two essential building blocks– in place– that keep the team from starting anew– with an outsider brought in during the season.

    This is not complicated. There is enough talent in this team. Were a manager not to force players out of their best positions? To force-fit creative attackers into an archaic, mid-00s tactical regimen? Stick a proper DM in front of the back-4– and coax some actual linking play back-to-front? If Freddie could achieve that? Then Freddie Ljundberg– would be fine for a time.

    That’s it. Get past steps 1 & 2.


    Arsenal will then have the next 5 to 7 months to do their due diligence this time. Could well have a choice of managers that fit the expectations of club and fanbase in that time.

  16. I cant remember a season where, 11 games in, we have a goal difference of 1.


    One, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, our Ballon d’Or nominee, having a dream season. That is mad. Even adjusting for injury, we’re getting next to nothing out of Lacazette, the flanks or the midfield. Arsenal teams, even the bereft late Wenger ones, had goals from all over the park.

    That is damning.

    We are 6 points off fourth placed Chelsea. That is both (A) an alarming gap tis early (B) a closeable gap this early. We basically have to decide whether Emery is stuck with A, or can deliver B.

    I think he’s lost the dressing room, as signified by the loss of his closest ally there. The players are playing as if they dont believe in him or his methods. And as Ive argued, I think he’s had some bad luck of late. But is it that they say? You make your luck.

    I was actually beginning to feel sorry for him, when I read this:

    “If the “brain trust” had done their homework they would have known that he played frantic football, that his ideas weren’t very clear, that he picked fights with players, that he was passive-aggressive, and that many of his players didn’t listen to him or understand his vision.”

  17. So who?

    Heart says Freddie, “Arsenal through and through”, as we used to sing about him in the stands.*

    But the thing that we fans are going to have to accept is that the board isnt interested in romance. They want results. It’s why I think (contrary to what was reported in The Athletic today) there’s no chance they’ll let Emery stay in the job if CL qualification is drifting away, say, by new year. And there’s no chance that they’ll hire Manchester City’s Assistant manager.

    Mourinho is really, really lobbying for the job. It’s not even subtle. It wouldnt surprise me. I dont particuarly hate Jose… I just think that his star has faded and e’s nowhere near the level he was at his peak, which was Inter. He’s also developed a talent for toxifying dressing rooms. We should look elsewhere. But he really, really wants it. Be warned.

    1. Emery is a poor-man’s-Mourinho without the good silverware.
      Aside from the things you’ve touched on that make Jose ‘not the right one’ for Arsenal? We’d be playing a very similar style of football. If better organized. Jose isn’t coming aboard to remove the bridles from our thoroughbred attackers.

      Jose had whatever talent he requested at United– and was only better than middling for about half a season.

    2. What worries me is the new regime seems willing to play ball with agents. Jose Mourinho is represented by Jorge Mendes. The biggest agent there is, and look what he’s done for Wolves the past two years acting as the club’s agent. Would Raul be above doing Mendes a favor and hiring Mourinho in exchange for some transfer deals and assists on salary negotiations? In exchange for some future favors?

      This is the big thing that gives me concern. Otherwise, it’s probably b.s.

  18. * Sung to the tune of “You’re Just Too Good to be True”, substitute “I love you baby”, for “we love you Freddie”, and “trust in me when I say”, for “Arsenal through and through.”

    One of my favourite Arsenal football songs. Most of them were bad, the Vieira one surprisingly meh. But not the Freddie one.

    Here’s my favourite Jersey boy killing it 🙂

  19. It’s time for UE to say adios. I had no idea what to expect when he was hired so it’s not difficult for me to call for his exit. What I have determined is that he does not see a top 4 finish in the EPL as a way to the Champions League (CL), rather via the Europa League (EL) hence his lackadaisical attitude towards the EPL. Instead of fielding solid teams to finish in the top 4 during the last matches of last season he did not and lost miserably in the EL finals against Chelsea. I see him playing the same game this season. He does not field good players and gives tactical reasons for not doing so. I am not sure if
    anyone else knows what those tactical reasons are. Nothing good to show for them. He must go!!!

  20. The moment I finally admitted something was wrong, was when Ramsey told us what happened with his contract. I know it’s less to do with Emery than Raul, but it let me admit something was not quite right at the club. All the red flags became visible.

    The BATE result was nearly the end for Emery, I’m sure. The team played like they no longer believed in him. But he then brought back Ozil, and by the end was playing Ramsey to the point of injury.

    It would still be ok, but the run in in the league. Losing top 4 when it was almost guaranteed. That was bad. What was worse, he got in his excuses before the EL final, throwing everyone he could under the bus. I was sure then we wouldn’t win. He ought to have been sacked on the flight home from Baku.

    That he wasn’t is poor management from Arsenal. The transfer window was decent to good. As I recall the number one priority in Tim’s poll was a B2B midfelder. Ceballos ain’t it. I don’t know what he is. I hope we don’t sign him permanently. For the rest, it was all good, until the Iwobi sale. Our best ball carrier from last season, homegrown, sold for a low amount in today’s market.

    So what does Emery do this season? Has us playing worse. Still playing politics with Ozil. Still making excuses in the media. Apart from the lack of class, to think he can just keep badmouthing Wenger to hide his ineptitude shows poor judgment.

    Emery is weird, man. I don’t know. I want to like him, I really do, but I don’t. And the quality of the football is just horrible. I no longer care if I end up missing a game let alone a few minutes.

    So his time is up. I wonder if and when the board will act. I don’t trust their judgement. They sacked the last footballing mind in Sven last season. It’s all political now imo.

    Mourinho won’t be it. Henry might be. I hope not. I hope it’s Freddie as caretaker, or we go back and correct the timeline by hiring Arteta. We need some hope.

  21. The notion that Emery was hired because he was, as Tim put it, ‘cheap and pliant’ doesn’t engender much faith. Great managers aren’t cheap, they’re scarce and highly in demand. They’re also rarely pliant. Maybe that famous dossier won him the job, not for its diligence and eye for detail, but because it served the club strategy. Buy young, develop, sell high, squeak into the CL, keep the money rolling.
    Notably Emery is head coach, a role created when Raulzidis deposed the old king and set up their red & white republic.

    Club strategy won’t change in this regard, but hopefully it will impinge less on the decision making process. Emery was always a ship-steadying appointment. A risk averse, mid-table underdog manager who would steer a course through the league and maybe bag an EL on the way. Now we need a little more courage in our choices, someone with more vision than spreadsheets, more conviction than usb sticks.

    Oh, and please no Mourinho, the fan base is plenty riled up as it is.

  22. Yesterday Bayern Munich fired Kovac after losing 5-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt.
    BM are 1 pt. off of 3rd place and is tied with 3 other teams on 18 pts.

    Arsenal are in 5th place, 6 pts. below Chelsea who has 5 wins out of 5. We have 1 win in our last 5. We are 1 pt. above Sheffield United but are behind them in goal difference by 3. We next face a resurgent Leicester team who are 3rd who I predict will absolutely shred us.

    The team for a manager change is now. We cannot wait until December because a change now is already too late. Bayern Munich knew that and we had better get on the choo choo as well

  23. I am sure the player dossiers and the idea that hiring a manager who claimed to be able to improve players and promote our younger players would have been highly appealing to our board. I am certain the board was impressed by the detailed tactical plans Emery had already crafted. The club needed to move in a different direction after Arsene and a manager with a reputation for meticulous attention to details and preparation sounded like exactly what we needed. On top of that had a >10 year record of good results. As always its very easy to criticize in retrospect and I am fully on board with the idea that its time for a change. No manager is ever going to be perfect but prospectively the choice of Emery seemed like it made a lot of sense and anyone who claims they knew all along that it would turn out to be a mistake is probably changing history and spouting rubbish.

  24. The idea that a manager can improve players is highly overrated IMO. The manager is responsible for the global well being of the team and I can’t imagine there is a single manager of any top level team in the world who has the time to work individually with players on their skills. That’s why there are youth academies and coaching staffs. A player is responsible for working on improving areas of the game where they struggle. If a player has been in an academy setting for several years but gets to his early 20’s and still struggles with something like his first touch then it probably means that player just does not have the talent needed to succeed with a big club whose objective is be in the champions league. A manager can’t turn back the clock on a player who is on the downward side of his career arc and bring back the Mesut Ozil from 5 years ago

    1. I think you maybe don’t watch football alot cos am amazed at your statement that coaches hardly improve players .that’s a blunder of the era.

    2. I can’t remember if it was Matt Busby or Bill Shankly who said good players don’t need coaching, they just need handling

  25. Like a monkey swinging through the jungle, you don’t let go of one branch until you have hold of the second branch.

    If we plan on letting go of Emery, who’s the second branch? If you tell me Mourinho, I’ll tell you that’s not a branch, that’s a boa constrictor, prepare to be slowly crushed and die with terrible suffering.

    Everyone saying Freddie is being overly nostalgic, like they were with Arteta. Zero track record and would we risk doing what United did with OGS? He has a good run of games, gets us into the top 4 and then the fanbase are demanding his appointment, only for us to find out he can’t last the race.

    And Allegri is not the answer. I followed Juventus – he is an extreme pragmatist and benefitted from inheriting world class defenders and leaders like Gigi Buffon.

    If Rafa Benitez wants to come back from China, maybe. He deserves another shot at prime time with a big club. He’s also won the Europa League (and Champions League). But otherwise I’m tempted to say just leave Emery there until the end of the season, let him go then and we’ll have our pick of a pretty good crop of managers come late May/early June.

  26. Why is Bielsa never linked with the top jobs? Isn’t he who Pep credits as his inspiration?

    1. I love Bielsa and watch Leeds now whenever I get a chance, but a) he’s not moving, he won’t abandon Leeds mid-season, b) he’s in his mid-60’s and c) he’s a little bit crazy.

  27. Great article Tim – spot on as usual.
    Freddie as head coach, DB10 as ‘offensive’ coach and Tony Adams as ‘defensive’
    coach – it’s time to bring in experts with their special experiences – much like
    the NFL and NHL. It’s obvious that the current U-23 coach wasn’t able to
    improve our defence (if he was allowed to do that as assistant head coach for the last umpteen years)
    …. and you are correct; has to done soon, or it’s too little too late.
    Give the new triumvirate contracts until the end of this season and re- think
    after the results.

  28. The last few years of Arsene’s reign were a mess and things were getting worse. i was just happy the Kronkes had finally grown the cojones needed to bring some football people into the front office and move on from Arsene. I would have e been happy with almost any manager and I thought Emery was a good choice. The thing which has been most disappointing and hard to understand about the Emery era is how bad the defense has been. I thought his reputation for preparation and attention to detail was exactly what we needed to organize the team defense but I was clearly wrong.

  29. I think you maybe don’t watch football alot cos am amazed at your statement that coaches hardly improve players .that’s a blunder of the era.

  30. well…emery out seems pretty unanimous. wish i could say i was surprised. in fact, my only surprise is that it took so many so long to see the obvious. i have nothing personal against unai, he’s just not suited for the job. perhaps he interviewed well. thanks for the thread, tim. i have nothing to add.

    btw, being called “an inspiration and a credit to humanity” must be pretty cool, tim. maybe they should put a statue of you outside the emirates, too.

  31. I appreciate the article. Have been feeling similarly for some time.

    I’ve seen it in every sport. People support a franchise that isn’t living up to its past/potential/ticket cost/etc. Fans become split on what it means to be loyal, and what it means to critique, as if these are mutually exclusive.

    In our case, Arsenal fans are attempting to protect some universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc manner to exclude the counterexample. I believe we call this the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    I counter with more fallacy, true supporters don’t tell supporters what a true supporter does.

  32. Well apparently we’ve sacked our Head of Youth Recruitment and former Arsenal defender, Steve Morrow. Strange times at this club.

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