Unfortunately we are getting closer to the Emery in or Emery out debate, I feel reassured that this site has risen above the playground name-calling on other sites to date from the usual suspects.
I have been trying to put into words by way of comparison how I feel about Unai Emery right now. I know in the past I was one of the most loyal of Arsene Wenger supporters, the reason for bringing that up is that I just want to make clear that I am nowhere near reaching that level of devotion; AW had a bank of great Arsenal memories to refer to and as such people like me probably carried the torch a tad longer than was good for all concerned. Unai Emery has no such bank of Arsenal memories………..yet?
The comparison I came up with to describe our Basque is that of a master carpenter having been invited to work on a prestigious London project only to find on his arrival that the project managers expect him to do his job without making available a saw, a hammer or a chisel.
Did you ever wonder what is going through his mind during a game when the camera cuts to him standing in front of the dug out with that pained expression on his face? I do, and the caption I see coming from his mouth is – What did you expect?
The recent Chelsea game seems to be frequently reappearing with both ends of the spectrum being debated: Chelsea are poor so that reduces the significance of the win or that the win shows that we really are not far off where we want to be.
The truth, as is often said, lies somewhere in the middle and that certainly seems to be the case with this game.
It is correct, of course, to say that Chelsea do not offer the same threat that they have in recent seasons but they offer more of a threat than Bate for example so why the difference, why doesn’t Emery set his team up in such a way that replicates that winning formula?
The answer in my opinion is personnel, or in this example, the lack of them because as much as he might want to play the same line up or the same system, he can’t and that is through no fault of his own.
This was the line up against Chelsea.
Bellerin, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac
—–Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi
I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again, the biggest loss has been Bellerin; he gave us goal scoring options from the right; he also enabled Kolasinac to do his magic on the left, this is subtle – no Bellerin = no Kolasinac magic. It is now too easy to crowd the Bosnian out and nullify his threat.
I know that GN5 justifiably points to the earlier part of the season when Bellerin’s sorties into the opponent’s half left gaps behind, but look above and notice how Torreira is set up to cover such gaps.
I don’t really need to explain the loss of calibre to the team having Sokratis replaced by Mustafi but the loss of Ramsey is underestimated. If you look at that team above again you will notice that there is a connection with London buses, we have been crying out for a defensive midfielder and now we have three, how else would you describe Xhaka, he may not be a very effective DM but he certainly isn’t a AM.
Ramsey is the only person from that midfield who could augment the front two; he is the only one who is capable of getting a goal from midfield. Unfortunately I don’t expect to see him play at THOF again, we got a flurry of determination for what looked like a final push to secure his lucrative Juve contract but from now on his foot will be off the pedal as I suspect he worries more about injury than our success.
What of Ozil? I see no reason why Ozil simply couldn’t be swapped for Ramsey in the above set up, there certainly is enough defensive cover to give Mesut a free rein; the problem is as I see it is that is like a house of cards.
No Bellerin, no effective AMN, no effective AMN, no effective Kolasinac, No effective Kolasinac, no effective Ozil all of which equates to: Arsenal 0 Bate 1
Personally I have very little hope of coming 4th, I don’t think we have the personnel to achieve that goal, I would be happy of course but I am not holding my breath. However, I do not think the responsibility for that misfire sits squarely on Emery’s shoulders; although that said, I might not be quite so sympathetic if we are in the same position this time next season after Emery has had an opportunity to buy his own saw, hammer and chisel.
You raise some very interesting points, and I too was thinking about the Chelsea game and looking at the line up. Then I thought about the Spuds game and had a gander back to the line up on that occasion.
Bellerin, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac
—–Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi
Conclusions: maybe, in part, tactical genius in selecting system/players in a correct horses for courses. Both are well balanced sides. Clearly, against Spuds there was neither Mesut nor Ramsey. Bell and Xhaka in both
Great post LB
Excellent post, LB. For me it is too narrow to blame the lack of tools, as great managers deal with this through good man management and/or tactical adjustments. But as it’s Unai’s first season, it is fair to give him time (and a few ‘own’ players). Currently, it is looking like we are nowhere near repeating those performances and results and I don’t think it is just a matter of Emery getting all his players back, but hopefully I am wrong.
I think our best game from a quality of football perspective was v Pool at home. We had a very attacking line up with Leno – Bels/Mus/Hold/Kola – Xhak/Tor/Mkhi – Ozil (Yes Ozll!)/Auba/Laca. After 70 minutes or so Iwobi and Ramsey came on for Mkhi and Auba, and that is when we started to crack the Dippers with a late equaliser by Laca.
Looking at the line ups v Chas, Spuds and Pool, it seems that we:
1. Need two out of three of Holding, Koz, Sok to start (although it has to be said that Mustafi played in two of those three games);
2. Xhaka-Tor need to play in the double DM pivot
3. Bels and Kola need to start on the wings
4. The attacking 3/4 players can vary
Thanks LB, that’s a good read, I think you’ve got it right.
My feelings about UE are also the same as you, I want him to be another genius, but at the moment all I can do is give him time and hope the club buy him the tools so at least we get a chance to see just how good he can be.
I would urge those who are negative towards UE to have a look at the Points Compared to last Season widget to the right hand side. Not only are we 5 points better off than at the same stage last season, but from this point forwards, we lost 3 out of our 4 next games last season. Whichever way you look at it, in terms of league position and points on the board, there is an improvement.
Just out on interest, aw won the league in his first full season having taken over graham’s and rioch’s squads.
Can one say that the squad he took over is worse than the squad aw inherited?
Ue has also augmented the squad he inherited with 3 players included the undroppable guendousi.
You cannot compare our points total today with the same date last year as the teams that were played were different.
One can only make such a comparison at the end of the season when everyone has been played.
It might be better to look at the other widget and compare the results against each team as against last year.
I agree with Micky on the horses for courses thing, but I also think the best teams have the ability to make pressure count and more often than not score first, something we failed to do against BATE, and they also have the ability to adjust during a game, something we’ve obviously been good at given the amount of points we’ve won from behind this season but also something we failed to do against the parked bus of BATE.
The starting XI isn’t all it’s made out to be. It’s how the team adapts and finishes that can often be the deciding factor.
Good one LB
Interesting comparison with the master carpenter! I would suggest Dick has not only been given no tools, but instead of good quality timber to carve into beautiful creations, he is faced with large lumps of gaudy (and expensive) plastic! Land dumping is not an option, unfortunately.
Thought I might need a “testing” comment, so, more of the great Dean Martin on the blog please, Chas.
Hi jjgsol, you seem determined to prove UE is doing a bad job. If you compare game for game with the categorisation of newly promoted, we are still doing better than last season … although not by a huge margin. I am confident we will complete the season with more points than last.
…I’m sorry, I misread this … “Can one say that the squad he took over is worse than the squad aw inherited?” … well yes, we had the best back 5 in the league. That was before the EPL became awash with oil money etc so the quality of opposition was nowhere near the level it is today
People used to say Wenger inherited an amazing back 5 (in fact it was used to bash him towards the end as they claimed he never bought any decent defenders). I don’t think we can suggest Emery has inherited that can we? Also Wenger brought in Overmars, Petit and Vieira for that first season. Not sure Geundouzi, Torreira and Lichsteiner are at that level. Wenger also has the ability to improve fitness massively due to the fact the majority of players in the Pl had terrible habits. I don’t think Emery has that advantage.
The landscape has changed so much in the last 20 years that it’s very difficult to compare what AW inherited and what UE has. Personally, I would say Wenger got the better deal!
🙂 snap fgg
Trouble is he will be shopping in the pound shop …will the products be up to scratch?.or even the second hand shop where we get everybody’s cast offs.
As a without reservations Ouzi fan, annoyed at comments today that PSG are re-scoutng him (spent nine years at the Club from six years old, before Lorient), for a potential summer bid of £60m.
Does our French correspondent have any backroom gossip, and can he put a spanner in the works early on?
I personally don’t think that Emery is really the best man for the job it looks as though we have gone for 2nd best due to lack of funds. Why do we not have the funds available as do some other premier teams?
Is it because our owners cream off too much of the profits for themselves it was a big mistake to let kroenke and co take over and I do not see how Arsenal can ever reclaim any of their past glory
It is natural to look at the stats as in position in the league, potential to finish fourth etc, and say Emery is doing a good job. But it really is about the football that we play and, as BR has pointed out a few times, we play pants football under Emery. He may argue certain tools are missing but being unable to work with super-carpenter tools like Ozil and Rambo, abusing the quality tools of Xhaka and Torreira, and not getting the best out the very expensive tools of Laca and Auba, surely are strong indications that Emery isn’t that good, even if we do finish in the top four this season. By all means give him another 11 months to prove himself, but the signs are there to see for all. Loyalty is commendable but truth is always the bigger virtue.
Emery inherited a quality squad – in particular Bels, Cech, Xhaka, Rambo, Laca, Ozil, Koz (when fit again), Monreal – that was strengthened with the likes of Auba, Mkhi, Torreira, Licht, Sok, Leno since Jan 2018. It really is daft to say that Unai has not the right tools at his disposal; a quality manager would be able to work with this squad and play really good football imo. But Emery is actually rapidly decreasing the value of our squad, something that never happened under Wenger, and one of the reasons why Kroenke will look v critically at him at the end of the season.
Thanks for the post, LB.
I’m not sure I can add much to what’s been said.
What I am liking is that you think Unai is a master carpenter – it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. 🙂
Come on TA … reducing the the value of the squad? … simply not true. LBG just talked of a potential £60m for Guendouzi. Obviously the players who are ageing are going down in value, but apart from Ozil, the sites that add a value to players will tell you that the most players’ worth has increased.
It is clear that rightly or wrongly, UE wants Ozil to leave to free a budget to buy the players he thinks we need. This is an unsavoury situation for all parties, I wish it wasn’t so.
I would disagree that we do not play any beautiful football .. (remember the move that led to Ramsey’s goal) … just not often enough at the moment. It is odd how many have forgotten some of the really dire performances we put in last season (I can put up links to the match reports if you’d like) … not only devoid of beautiful football, but totally lacking in the sort of fight and energy that Ouzi brings to the side.
Don’t forget the win vs Leicester that was one of our best performances also
It may be a ‘quality squad’ in comparison to the 15 or so teams below us, but certainly not in terms of challenging for any silverware. Questions really have to be asked about how poorly money has been spent in recent years. Big transfers like Xhaka and Mustafi have failed to really impress, whilst huge wages were given to the likes of Mkhitaryan and Kolasinac (in fairness he’s had a good year but looked poor before this campaign). Then there’s the Özil and Sanchez contracts which have been discussed in length. The squad is totally lacking in defence and our midfield doesn’t exactly sparkle. It’s unbalanced and needs a lot of work.
It’s interesting that kolasinac has had his best season under Emery, whilst Xhaka was starting to look like a proper player next to Torreira in Emery’s system after being laughed at whilst in Wengers team. I think there are signs Emery can get performances from players, but at the same time the Özil situation leaves a poor taste. The quicker that gets sorted the better for everyone.
Koscielny Sokratis Holding
Bellerin Torreira Xhaka Kolasinac
Given the ongoing Özil situation I believe this to be our strongest line up with the squad we currently have. I’m not sure if we’ve actually managed to get this out for a game this season. I would say another CB is needed and possibly a more mobile player than Xhaka (although someone not as headless as Geundouzi!) to improve the midfield. We obviously then need a long term replacement for Ramsey and Özil and probably a tricky wide player for when we change formation or teams parl the bus. A RB replacement is also required. Lots for Emery to improve upon in the off season but he may have to trust some youngsters and be clever with his cash to get even half of that done.
Hi fgg, there are some very promising youngsters coming through – although most probably not for next season … witness our 4 : 0 away demolition of the totts under 23’s last week.
I appreciate I’m talking to myself here but I was just looking through the loan players to see if there was any useful additions in there and I was pleased to see Reiss Nelson and Callum Chambers pop up. Both have had excellent seasons in positions we need help in. If Chambers can continue to improve in the HM role he’s played for Fulham this year then he would be a very useful squad player and may even be able to slot in beside Torreira and Xhaka if we go 3 in midfield. If Nelson progresses further then there is no reason he can’t be that tricky wide player we require and may also be pushing for a first team slot next season.
A bit more of a long shot would be Bielik and Mavropanos. We are desperate for a quality CB to come through and both have showed promise at times. Apparently Bielik has been good for Charlton this year although I’ve a feeling he’s also been playing HM.
MC have a better squad, but all other teams we can and should be competing with.
Rasp, thanks for responding, Disagree with mostly all, but that is okay of course. 🙂
Beyond Emery and the 1st team, I want to know what are the future plans that Raul Sanllehi (Head of Football) and Huss Fahmy (Chief Contract Negotiator) have in mind for the team.
Fahmy (who is also a lawyer and a director of the British Association for Sport and Law) arrived from Team Sky (Cycling)’s legal team in June 2017 while Sanllehi arrived from FC Barcelona in Feb 2018 as our “Director of Football” before promoted to Head of Football Operations in Nov 2018, after our then-CEO Ivan Gazidis left for AC Milan.
First, regarding player’s contract negotiations, I would have believed that Fahmy was partially involved alongside Gazidis and his predecessor, Dick Law (who stepped down around Sep 2018), in managing some of the players’ contract renewing process in 2017/2018 and then solely responsible, with inputs from Sanllehi, from 2018/2019 onwards, on
(1) those running down their contracts during that period (Alexis, Ozil, Wilshere, Gibbs, The Ox, Szczesny …. and the current ones of Ramsey, Cech, Welbeck, Jenkinson etc)
(2) extension of contracts of current players (Holding, Xhaka, Elneny, AMN, Iwobi, Monreal? and the highly scrutinised one of Ozil’s etc)
(3) newly recruited players contracts (Leno, Sokratis, Mavropanos, Kolasinac, Lichtsteiner, Torreira, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang etc)
Important note above: Fahmy is only responsible for the contracts. The task of scouting and bringing in new players falls under Sven Mislintat (who arrived at the club in Dec 2017) and his scouting team previously and probably in consultation with Sanllehi and Emery.
Timeline: The decisions for player-to-player exchange between Alexis and Mkhitaryan, as well as the extension of Ozil contract falls (in Jan 2018) under the care of the trio of: Gazidis, who is more corporate oriented, Fahmy and Mislintat. This was just before Sanllehi came in (Feb 2018) to handle some of Gazidis’ previous duties, likely those on football administrations of the coaching staff and players.
(I opinionated that the player exchange was to get the best out of a bad footballing decision made previously by failing to offload Alexis to Man City, when Dick Law was still the main man handling contracts; and Ozil’s extension was a business related endorsement by Gazidis, at that time when the club could not lose 2 star players in that winter transfer window, amid the team’s indifferent result in the league and fans/supporters “arguments” over Arsene Wenger’s in/out saga)
Second/Next, regarding Sanllehi initial appointment (in Feb 2018) and subsequent promotion (Nov 2018) at the club. I believe this guy’s got a ruthless streak in him in handling footballing matters. Together, he (as Director of Football) and Gazidis (CEO) might have made the decision to cut short Arsene’s stay at the club, even if the club has to made compensation (1 year’s salary + additionals) to Arsene by terminating that extra 1 year.
Timeline: the triumvirate of Gazidis, Sanllehi & Mislintat decided to appoint Emery as our new coach (not manager) in season 2018/2019 (with Arteta reportedly the other candidate). Then, in Oct 2018, somehow for unknown reasons, Gazidis was “headhunted” by AC Milan and left (maybe he bailed himself out when he foresees uncertainties at the club?). Sanllehi is now Head of Football and shares the handling of the club in the executive side alongside also newly promoted Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham (who oversees the corporate side of the club, and assisted by CFO/Chief Accountant Stuart Wisely and Head of Operations Trevor Saving). Any supposedly decision to fire Emery and hire a new coach will have to come from Sanllehi.
I believe the power at the club that Sanllehi holds in regards to footballing matters is even greater, in that his “Head of Football” title is equivalent to a CEO/Executive Chairman powers of clubs the EPL, e.g. that of Man City’s Ferran Soriano, Man Utd’s Ed Woodward, Liverpool’s Peter Moore, Chelsea’s Guy Laurence and Spur’s Daniel Levy. His continent counterparts would be someone like Real Madrid’s Fiorentino Perez, Barcelona’s Josep Maria Bartomeu, Bayern’s Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Juventus’s Andrea Agnelli and PSG’s Nasser Al-Khelaifi – all powerful brokers of their club’s footballing matters.
The cancellation of Ramsey’s contract extension and letting Welbeck’s expire should have come mostly from Sanllehi (with inputs from the MD Vinai in regards of the available finances). Ozil’s omission from match day’s squad might also have some inputs/directives from Sanllehi to Emery (in the bid to force the player to request a transfer out which then free up some of the funds for player’s salaries available). If he is as ruthless as assisting Gazidis in terminating Arsene’ contract previously, we might even see Ozil’s contract be terminated (with compensation coming from some of the club’s summer transfer funds) and he be released on a free this coming summer if no other club wants to buy the player. (which could be why the reported only 45 million available for summer window, because the rest would be used in the compensation to any early termination of players’ contract).
Furthermore, Sanllehi has told the media previously that the club “will no longer allow key players’ contracts to enter final year” – ie the player renew or club will offload player one way or another before that. This summer there might be hard decisions made for players whose contract are running down in a year or two (in 2021) – Sokratis, Mkhitaryan Aubameyang, Ospina, Mustafi and of course Ozil; Koscielny is leaving club after his current contract).
Third, Mislintat has left the club along with his scouting team. The club has currently no Head of Recruitment/Technical Director and at least the Chief Scout. Sanllehi and Fahmy shall have to work to find the correct suitable personnel to fill both positions or else this coming summer transfer window could get messy again.
(Lastly, I could see more youngsters promoting to the full fledged 1st team action should there be a big shake up of personnel and reduced new recruitments from the outside: EMR, Reiss Nelson, Willock, Nketiah, Bielik etc)
Apologies for the above long staggered post (I don’t know if it made any sense), but I have to get this thing off my chest.
Blimey JM, amazing research … bravo! It goes a long way to answering some of the questions I posed the other day and would make a very good post in its own right. I’d be particularly interested to know by what means the club could enforce the “will no longer allow key players’ contracts to enter final year”
Please don’t take this the wrong way, but how do you know all this?
IN addition to Tererra, Guendousi and Lichsteiner, we signed Leno and Sokratis before the season began. At least 4 of these are players in the UE mold. Interestingly enough none of these are amongst the seriously injured, and most have played very regularly.
On comparing the games this season and last, we are 2 points up in respect of the teams that stayed up at the end of last season.
We got 10 points from the 3 teams that went down and have already 13 points from the ones that came up, so the 5 points difference is correct.
Does the difference lie in the style we are playing and the fact we have done so badly in the cups?
@Rasp, 2:09 pm
Under Sanllehi’s & Fahmy’s watch, that statement “will no longer allow key players’ contracts to enter final year” – could mean that in this coming summer window – Sokratis, Mkhitaryan Aubameyang, Ospina, Mustafi and Ozil – could all either be sold, player exchanged or released on a free (in the worst case scenario) if they are not renewed (either from the club’s or player’s perspectives). These players are also some of the big wage earners.
Sanllehi, during his time as DoF at Barcelona, has handled the recruitment and sales of big name and branded players (Ronaldinho, Dani Alves, Ibrahimovic, Eto’o, David Villa, Mascherano, Yaya Toure, Fabregas, Alexis, Jordi Alba, Neymar, Thiago, Luis Suarez, Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele, Coutinho etc) and also the coming/going of managers (Guardiola, Jordi Roura, Tito Vilanova, Lui Enrique, Ernesto Valverde) for a decade. He will not blink an eye to see off any contract rebel and disturbing influences, either from player or manager.
Fahmy was Team Sky’s legal counsel and then their Director of Legal and Commercial Affairs. He worked on rider contracts from start to finish of the process.
Fahmy nows works under Sanllehi (as is Emery) and Sanllehi can only be removed by our board (well basically Stan & Josh Korenke).
I am looking into the club from the outside with a clear mind, no bias against any of the various groups: management staff, coaches, players and supporters.
Thanks for the response JM. I wasn’t doubting your credentials.
Others have stated on here that you can’t force a player to sign a new contract, and that must be true … but can a club (employer) force a player (employee) to move if they choose not to? Is there something that can be written into the original contract that gives the club the power to do this?
Based on what you have described, would you say that The Arsenal are in safe hands – from Sanllehi downwards that is.
@Rasp, 3:21 pm
“but can a club (employer) force a player (employee) to move if they choose not to? Is there something that can be written into the original contract that gives the club the power to do this?”
I am no expert in contracts and such. But there was already a a precedence under Sanllehi (and Gazidis) watch – Arsene Wenger’s contract was cut short by 1 year, no? Of course, then the club would have to compensate monies to him (heavily, and from that season’s transfer/salary fundings likely) for his early termination.
In a drastic scenario, Sanllehi (with Fahmy) could choose to terminate a contract rebel’s remaining contract (usually 1 to 2 years remaining) but only after careful deliberation and consultation from the corporate finance side (MD Vinai and CFO Wisely) on the impact on our club’s transfer/wages monies from the would be compensation to said player(s) for early termination.
This is an unlikely case if the said player is a similar profile as Messi, C.Ronaldo, Neymar, Mbappe etc because any compensation/severance package will be astronomical.
The domino effect is that our club might have to sell off valuable assets (e.g. Torreira, Guendouzi, Bellerin etc) of our team to put in enough transfer funds to get new players for Emery. (or he will have to promote from within the youth squads to fill up some places) due to us being a “self-sustainable” club.
“would you say that The Arsenal are in safe hands? – from Sanllehi downwards that is.”
I would like to find out from Sanllehi himself. What are his concrete plans for the club in the long run. (because we are unlikely to hear from the Korenkes any time soon).
Thanks again JM, so if a player doesn’t want to leave, there is the option to pay off their contract (which may have advantages in terms of tax loss) and this could be of value if the player was having a destabilising effect on the squad … I’m not suggesting Ozil is btw …
We’re not used to this level of research 🙂
I must read again. Thank you very much
Well, that really is a good read JM.
I would go further on one particular point you make and that is that rather than say that Sanllehi’s role and tittle of Head of Football is the equivalent of CEO I would say that his tittle carry’s even more importance and weight than that of CEO.
Some of the example names of CEOs above are not there at all because of their knowledge of football they are there because of their knowledge of that particular role in a corporate structure.
I know this because I go to the house of one of those CEO’s in the South of France in summer and on occasions go skiing.
Fine post today LB and some insightful comments from JM.
We know the names of the Arsenal management team but to millions of fans they are an unknown quantity as they never give us any club news. In fact I cannot remember any club updates since Ivan Gazidis left.
Chas I’ve sent two posts.
@Rasp (4.12pm), @mickydidit89 (4.55pm), @LB (6.16pm), @GunnerN5 (7.00pm)
Thanks for your kind replies.
Since Kroenke’s 100% takeover at the club, there will be no longer AGM to hold the board accountable, right? Does that mean the executive board (MD Vinai & HoF Sanllehi) does not have to explain to fans/supporters any of the corporate/footballing administration decisions made by the board and management?
There is also the matter of a no-deal Brexit’s impact on EPL: players/managers signings/contracts/work permits, TV prize money etc. What that could mean for our club future direction to take?
Regarding Ozil, whether he leaves on his own or is forced out of the club in future, some preferable destinations:
(a) PSG (owned by the Qataris; and if Arsene should replace their current sporting director, Antero Henrique)
(b) Turkey (if any of the clubs can afford his wages; revisiting/playing for his Turkish roots)
(c) Juventus (C. Ronaldo is there – he could vouch for Ozil, as are his pal Sami Khedira, ex-German teammate Emre Can etc). PS: There is also that rumour that Zidane would go in and manage the team sometime in future.
(d) MLS, in particular David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF, for season 2020. (If his club need a marquee brand name signing, Ozil is one)
(e) J1-league in Japan (currently David Villa, Andres Iniesta & Lukas Podolski are with Vissel Kobe; Fernando Torres is with Sagan Tosu)