Yesterday, in a shocking last-minute turn of events, Unai Emery was announced as the next Arsenal manager. Journalists were convinced Mikel Arteta would succeed Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal board probably thought the same thing until getting cold feet at the last minute. As an ex-Arsenal captain, Arteta would have been a familiar face at Emirates Stadium, but his lack of management experience raised red flags for Gazidis and his board.
Shortly after confirming his transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to Arsenal, Emery made a bold statement to reassure Arsenal fans.
“It’s very important, after two years outside the UEFA Champions League, to work towards this, to arrive and be the best team in the Premier League and also the world.”
Emery’s track record:
Climbing to the pinnacle of world football won’t be easy, and Emery’s track record sends mixed signals. In his three years at Sevilla, he won the UEFA Europa League three consecutive times, which may sound great until you realise he failed to make it out of the Champions League group stage both times he qualified for the competition.
During his two seasons in Paris, he lifted the league title just once and failed to make it past the Champions League Round of 16. Nobody will forget how his side collapsed in Barcelona after coming to Camp Nou with a 4-0 lead.
Despite winning only one league title during his managerial career, Emery has seen domestic success in cup competitions. He won the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions during both years in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and made it to the final of the Copa del Rey in 2016 with Sevilla.
Emery at Arsenal:
I’m not saying Emery is the wrong choice, he is a great manager, but I suspect his claims of football domination are premature. He won’t be able to walk in and splash £200 million on the next Neymar during the summer. Rising to the standards of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be difficult enough without serious financial backing.
Unai Emery’s summer allowance under Ivan Gazidis will be significantly less than he had in Paris. The Spaniard must spend wisely and frugally while transitioning to one of the world’s most competitive leagues. Success at Arsenal may come eventually under Emery, but it almost certainly won’t be immediate.
So, what can Arsenal fans expect during the first few seasons of Unai Emery’s appointment? Likely, 1) regular Champions League qualification only to make it out of the group before getting knocked out early in the competition; 2) the occasional FA Cup or League Cup win, and 3) the promise of success in the future followed by stable mediocrity.
It’s as if Wenger never left. For the sake of Arsenal fans everywhere, I hope I’m wrong.