Unai Emery sacked by Arsenal: The inside story shows how badly he lost control

  • Rob Swan

Unai Emery was finally put out of his misery by Arsenal on Friday morning.

The beleaguered Spanish coach, who watched on helplessly as his team were beaten 2-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday night, was sacked following a run of hugely underwhelming performances.

Arsenal are now on a seven-match winless run stretching back to October 24. Freddie Ljungberg has been appointed as the club’s interim manager and now faces the unenviable task of turning things around at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners face Norwich City at Carrow Road this weekend, while Arsenal officials begin the hunt for Emery’s permanent successor.

Max Allegri is the current favourite with the bookmakers, followed by Nuno Espirito Santo and Mikel Arteta.

But how bad were things for Emery behind the scenes at Arsenal?

Well, the London Evening Standard’s James Olley has published some fascinating details in an ‘inside story’-type article.

It’s clear from the information that Emery had lost complete control of the dressing room.

On a fight back from Arsenal’s Europa League match against Vitoria Guimaraes earlier this month, it’s claimed that players made jokes at Emery’s expense within his earshot.

It’s also revealed that he was sat alone on the team’s private plane, deep in thought after his side’s 1-1 draw.

“‘How many captains do we have?’ said one [player],” Olley reveals, “in reference to Emery’s appointment of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the new figurehead of his five-man leadership group following Granit Xhaka’s demotion.”

He continues: “The players openly mocked his accent and broken English. They have done for some time, not just in thinly-veiled social media ‘likes’ but by breaking out into various Emery impressions around London Colney.”

It seems the players were also dishing out ‘ebenings’ around the training ground.

Disrespectful behaviour? You’d have to say so.

It’s also claimed that Emery’s decision to allow the players to choose their own leaders also backfired on him. “In the end it only undermined the sense of power he had over them,” the report adds.

One of the main issues that Emery had, however, was communication.

“Communication was a big problem,” Olley explains. “Bukayo Saka admitted in September that ‘sometimes when I don’t understand when the coach is trying to communicate with me, I have a better communication with Freddie [Ljungberg]’.

“He is not the only one.

“Training ground sources speak of meetings with Emery taking much longer than usual due to confusion over the message he is trying to convey. Others speak of a lack of contact altogether; one player privately admitted that he had more communication via text with an ex-manager than he did with Emery.”

That’s pretty bad. When players are communicating more with a former manager via text message than they are with their *actual* boss, you know there’s a massive problem.

“He made little time to get to know longstanding staff at London Colney,” it’s also claimed. “Six months into the job, Emery conducted an interview at a club media day and thanked his translator at the end by calling him the wrong name.”

A little mistake on the face of it, perhaps, but the small details matter at football clubs – especially when you’re the manager.

Would Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp have made the same mistake at Man City and Liverpool? No chance.

A lot of the players ‘switched off in meetings’ because they couldn’t make sense of what Emery was telling them at times. Staff members, meanwhile, were left ‘infuriated’ by his failing to spend sufficient time drilling the team defensively.

And when even the club’s hierarchy was questioning his decision making – especially after he pushed for the loan signing of Denis Suarez from Barcelona last January – it became a matter of time before the change was made.

“Emery never fully settled in England, regularly returning to his hometown of Hondarribia when the fixture list allowed and not often spotted out locally,” Olley concludes. “He is said to favour one restaurant in St Albans but rarely spoke of hobbies or leisure pursuits.

“In the end, he was alone.”

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