It’s finally happened. Yesterday morning Unai arrived at the training ground to prepare for the Norwich game this weekend and he didn’t even get to put the cones out. By the time the first ball was kicked at London Colney he and his Spanish staff had been told that their services were no longer required and that they could say their goodbyes.
It’s a decision everybody knew was coming and it was more a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Unai took it graciously and later on in the day yesterday he penned a note that the club pushed out through its social media channels. I liked that they did that and I like that Emery wrote it. It kind of felt like an admission from all that he knew that this job was too big for him and he knew that his time had come. It also gave off a little bit of class from the club too. It’s never nice to relieve somebody of a job but at least Emery was given the opportunity to speak to the masses via the statement and to say his goodbyes.
Most Arsenal fans didn’t ‘hate’ him. We just needed him gone. He isn’t a bad man he just wasn’t the right man.
And now we move forward and we do so with Freddie in charge on a temporary basis. He gave a little speech and then delivered the training session yesterday and tomorrow he has the opportunity to give us back some joy by doing things his way. In a tweet he promised to bring back the ‘fun’ and I hope some of those players feel a sense of relief now that Emery is no longer picking the team and they have a man in charge who has a lot more rapport with them.
And I think that is important because we need to see the players connect with the coaching staff, believe in the coaching staff and as a result, put on a performance that brings the fans back to The Arsenal. Freddie has a connection to our history. He’s an invincible. He’s a guy who won’t have any issue communicating and he knows what it is like to win at the club. That connection will buy him some time, but for the purposes of our form he really doesn’t have time. Tomorrow we play Norwich and we simply must see a performance.
My hope is that the shackles are off and we see some players who feel liberated. It’s another chance for many of them and it’s an opportunity for some of them to get back into the side.
But Freddie won’t have a full compliment, as the news yesterday was that we have some injuries to deal with. Luiz suffered bruising on his ribs, Mustafi was stood on, plus there’s news that Bellerin is a doubt too. It’ll mean some shuffling needed but the great thing about tomorrow is that there’s a lot of unknowns. We have no idea who Freddie will play because this is all new to him in the Premier League. He could be an aggressive coach and say “all the forwards”. He could drop Guendouzi – something Emery never did. He could bring players like Özil front and centre. He could change the set up away from three at the back. He could keep things exactly the same tactically. There are so many ‘ifs’ right now but my hope is that we do the business tomorrow and get back to winning ways. We are desperate for it.
So it’s more exciting than this weekend could have been. However, what we all need to recognise is that there are other issues at Arsenal aside from replacing the head coach. Question marks remain over Raul’s position, especially as he dallied so long on terminating Emery’s contract. There are question marks over how close he is to Jorge Mendes and of Nuno Espírito Santo takes charge those question marks will only intensify. But KSE should still be observed closely because they are the ones still in charge and this is still a football club that has seen general decline under their stewardship. Changes still need to take place away from the coach and we need to see better leadership before it will look like things going in the right direction.
We care. Do they?