Is Time Running Out For Emery?

Image. Moving images. Image rights. Football contracts, in one form or another, involve images.

Perceptions occupy a similar space in the football psyche as well. You can present all the data you want about xG, xA, xyz and SPG; the rule of thumb for a player’s ability remains ‘what the eye sees’.

Managers and coaches fare little better. Their stats are harsher; silverware or league position are the two upon which their futures are decided. Our perception of how the team is progressing drives our opinion on the manager or coach’s performance.

In Unai Emery’s case, those perceptions aren’t good. There’s a sense from newspaper reports that he’s ‘lost the dressing room’ over his tactics. It isn’t that they don’t want to play for him (yet), they just don’t know what he wants.

That lack of understanding on the pitch resonates with the stands, real and electronic. There is no defined Emery style, no Emeryball if you like. It’s not a new point on these pages that being a football chameleon is no good if you don’t have a solid framework sustaining it.

And we don’t. It’s why I asked yesterday if the job was too big for him? Not the club but the task of rebuilding Arsenal, reformatting it for the 21st Century on the pitch. Others are doing it behind the scenes but there’s no sense we’re fit for purpose beyond the white lines.

Watching Arsene’s late-era Arsenal was frustrating as predictability stymied our drives for league success. Plan B emerged as a predictable long ball, a more direct route to the strikers; antithesis of Plan A.

The pressure got to him and he responded in the same manner as George Graham and Don Howe before him in both their final seasons at the club.

Dear Liza, Dear Liza

With Emery, the perceptions of improvement aren’t good. Last season, a transition year by any definition, was a ‘gimme’. He got a free pass and delivered more points, as well as the Europa League final, even if the less said about the latter applies.

A decent summer isn’t manifesting on the pitch yet. Yes, he isn’t helped with Nicolas Pepe still bedding into English football and the injury to Alexandre Lacazette hinders progress as well.

But neither of those two is enough to disrupt the side. However – and it’s amazing how many times my fingers slip to produce ‘howeber’ for that one – a slipshod defence and lacklustre midfield are problems which stop at his door, as well as those of the players.

The lack of leadership on the pitch stems, in my view, from the touchline. Emery’s farcical decision to announce five captains, which at the time of writing has yet to happen, underlines that.

The dressing room needs a focal point; a conduit from the players to the coaching staff. A coach can’t have a foot in both camps in the same way a captain will.

It might be an overly English approach to the game to have one captain but five captains? At least he isn’t claiming there are eleven leaders on the pitch.

Comments at the weekend that the coach remained calm while others around him lost their head are good. Venting is positive so long as the lessons are learned.

But, with Emery’s Arsenal, just as late-era Wenger Arsenal, there’s no sign it is happening. Five games in and it feels already like we’re shipping water out of the sinking ship using a bucket with a hole in the bottom.

Then Fix It, Dear Henry

That’s the pesky perception Unai is fighting right there. We all know how fickle football fates are but Emery isn’t going to trigger this team into action. There’s no 14-match winning streak delivering the title and reaching a cup final in this squad.

The players aren’t his bacon saving that way.

Not that I think his bacon needs saving yet. Raul and co aren’t ready to make jamon serrano out of him just yet.

I’m not convinced (yet) that a season and a bit in charge is enough. However, there might be some triggers which may change that.

Or two, to clarify. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hold contracts which expire in 2022 and 2021 respectively. According to Raul’s brave new world, both sign or are sold next summer.

The question is why would they sign a new deal with Arsenal at the moment? The latter rightly complained that we’re “giving goals away”. We need to deliver improvement rapidly.

Lacazette surely watched and wondered what the hell was happening in the second half, just as we did. They train every day so know what is really going on. Whether they sign or not is a test of Unai’s vision for the club.

If they don’t, Emery is toast. Raul and Edu won’t want to be the ‘victims’ of the witch hunt which will surely follow, particularly if star players refuse new deals.

Next summer is decisive. Ceballos returns to Madrid, Sokratis, Ozil and Luiz are out of contract in 2021, so too Mustafi. They join Aubameyang in the footballing version of “Shag, snog, kick out of bed”.

Results always improve the atmosphere, however. Issues get pushed to the side, locked in the attic until the next bad performance.

And right now, it feels that isn’t very far away.

‘til Tomorrow.

25 thoughts on “Is Time Running Out For Emery?

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    The mood is definitely turning against Emery, although it is still very early in the season. The Wenger disciples are sniffing blood.

    I think the problems remain from last season. The forwards are great and the defence is poor.

    Take out the 2 penalties conceded by Luiz & Xhaka from the last two games and we would have won both and been 4 points better off. Both are average players at best and have never shown any sense of defensive discipline. Of course the manager is the one who picks them…

  2. Femi Adeoye says:

    Unai needs to go back to the basics. I don’t know what the problem is but Unai’s approach is definitely not the solution. He seems to make simple things look complicated. We don’t need a group of captains. Keep things simple.
    We don’t have the defenders who can execute playing-out-from-the-back ideology, they’re too error-prone for that… so stick to basics! Kick out the ball.
    I wonder what the essence of his video reviews is if we keep repeating the same mistakes every weekend.
    Xhaka isn’t a leader or he’s not good enough to be our captain!

  3. andy1886 says:

    Dunno about the Wenger disciples Pete but I am aware that Emery in my mind was given extra credit just for not being Wenger, so I have to factor that in when I view his tenure so as to try and be objective.

    Oh, and by the way I can’t stand the moronic descriptions of ‘Wengerball’, ‘Emeryball’ or similar labels that the modern game seems to insist on. Grumpy old git that I am.

    For sure it seems Emery can’t fix the defence. He’s not alone in this though, even Pep struggles on the defensive side, what clown would have paid £50 for Stones let alone £50m? Modern football doesn’t value the defensive side of the game sadly. Serie A is possibly the one league where it isn’t all about hollywood passes and 5-4 scorelines and Allegri may be an option. Allegedly he wanted too big a transfer budget but we haven’t exactly been scrimping over the last two summers have we?

    More often than not successful managers do make a significant initial impact, not necessarily in immediate results but in style and culture. Klopp, Pep and Maureen in his first Chelsea stint for example and both Wenger and Graham at the Arsenal. Right now I don’t see much of an impact with Emery.

  4. Paulie Walnuts says:

    andy1886,

    I think I’m coming around to the fact that defence isn’t prioritised in the modern era. It’s now classed as entertainment apparently. Hey ho , times change ….but what I’d like to one day see again at Arsenal is some kind of blueprint where the team can win ugly. Some middle ground pragmatism please rather than either the champagne / kamikaze football we see most games.

    If Emery can’t get this somehow from the current squad he’ll have problems with the fan base as people are getting twitchy already. Things can go south very quickly for managers once results dip & he’s in for a shock if he thinks he can waltz through this season without improving the areas where we have obvious weaknesses.

  5. Bill says:

    Great post yogi.

    I believe that all the fixation on style of play is a heavy dose of over thinking. Style is mostly about the teams attack and we score goals without a defined style of play because we have a couple of very good forwards who are good at scoring goals. The objective of the game is to score more often then your opponents and as long as you score goals the style of play does not really matter. The problem for Emery has been on the defensive side of the pitch. Right now we are struggling because we are on pace to concede 60.8 goals in our league games this season. That’s worse then any season under Arsene. I didn’t think it could even be remotely possible that a new manager could come in and allow the team to concede as many as Arsene’s worst year ever in his first season and then get even worse in his second year. That seems utterly impossible but it’s exactly what’s happening. If we don’t see significant improvement soon then Emery needs to be sacked.

  6. TH14 says:

    Good afternoon all
    I was never optimistic, when rumours surfaced about Emery becoming Wenger’s replacement, especially after he threw away a four goal first leg lead at PSG, I always knew he was a manager that struggles with defending especially since our defence was already leaky prior to his arrival.
    He has been at the helm for one and half season, and it’s obvious that he still doesn’t have a clue about what he wants for this football club, so the point is, if he the manager is clueless about How he wants the team to set up and doesn’t have specific directives on how to combine defending and the attacking aspects of the game, then am afraid it’s time for him to go, and he should take side show Bob along with him cuz we won’t be needing him either…,

  7. Uwot? says:

    To be fair on “ dick” he’s had to come in & fix a complete mess.one season was never going to do it.That being said his no1 priority should have been to fix the defence first.Nothing else.That would have been his building blocks.Not pretty but stability first might have given him breathing room.injuries haven’t helped in this dept so the juries out for another month or so.however I get the sense he’s on borrowed time bar a huge upswing in results & playing style.petes right The wenger disciples smell blood……..

  8. TH14 says:

    Uwot
    I am definitely not a Wenger disciple, but I smell blood too, and so should every well meaning Arsenal supporter….
    I love Arsenal FC with all of my heart,soul and might and because of that emotional attachment I can’t afford to see this team suffer, it hurts much more than a break up with a long time lover
    With a lady, you heal with time, but how do you heal from your love from this club?
    I only want to see Arsenal FC do well, we must not win every single game, but at least let’s have less of this heartache..
    I believe that’s not too much to ask

  9. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi!

    I do think CB’s are like strikers in the fact that there are so few World Class and a step below that players at that position who can transform a backline that only the top clubs have and can afford them. Everybody else has to find a pretty good or solid CB but even then they have a mistake in them but either don’t do it as frequently or have enough good moments that their mistakes are pointed out, then sort of ignored, if that makes sense.

  10. Birdkamp says:

    AW was finished (sadly), but it’s looking like we’ve gone from old caviar to dodgy txistorra.

    In fairness, Emery hasn’t got it easy at the moment with so many new players to bed in. By no fault of his own we’re fielding teams every week that have never set foot on a pitch together before, and we haven’t even used Tierney yet.

    People were mad that we looked completely lost against Liverpool in these circumstances, which is absurd. New signings are great morale boosters, but teams take time to build. If there’s a comparison it’s a self-inflicted version of 11-12, when we needed a long time to get going after looking dismal.

    If he does go, I hope the people who make the next appointment aren’t as impressed by an interview as last time. If we want a coach who likes to control games then appoint one with a track record for possession football. There are loads kicking around, good and not so good.

  11. Paulie Walnuts says:

    C,

    I think you’re right, particularly about centre backs. The Manchester clubs have spent a fortune trying to bring in the best but still struggle in those positions. There’s a dearth of top quality plus the game has changed to aid attacking football.

    Where I think we’re poor is the amount of times our centre backs are left one on one or two v two. It’s asking for trouble.

  12. C says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    You look at Citeh and they had Kompany who was nothing short of World Class and they replaced him with Laporte who has it all but Laporte is out injured and their back line went to shit. Cb’s, top quality to World Class, don’t grow on trees. We can have a better defensive unit but unless you grab one of those, you have to hope for a quality CB who limits his mistakes but they are always there.

    Agree with you on that and that’s why I think the sooner we can get Torriera fit and partner him with Guendouzi, we might see less one on one’s. What will be interesting is will Maitland-Niles get a shot in midfield?.

  13. consolsbob says:

    Andy makes a good point. Where is the ‘impact’ that a new manager should make?

    Settle in period? Why? The defense was so obviously bad it should have been a ‘gimme’ to improve it.

    New players to bed in? Well, those are all either experienced players or highly rated performers. Emery has made look like drunken donkeys so far.

    The man is out of his depth. I don’t know why, maybe think of ferries sad replacement when he stood down.

    Btw, he and Arsene had much in common. Both did leave poor squads but he at least went out winning. Arsene just looked desperate.

  14. Blue Yonder says:

    a slipshod defence and lacklustre midfield are problems which stop at his door, as well as those of the players.

    Well said, YW, and right on the money. Throw in his strategy (if that’s what it is) and it’s pretty clear: change the strategy or change the players. Well, many of the players have been changed and yet the strategy problem persists, so it’s got to be changed.
    I read something recently that said that the players are zoned out by his two-hour video analysis sessions. What part his fractured English plays in those sessions, one can only imagine.
    I don’t think (most) Arsenal fans except miracles right away but continual improvement is a must. And that isn’t happening.

  15. Ras says:

    Good evening All.

    I think the job is way to grande pour notre Senor Emery.

    I’d take Brendan Rodgers right now. At least with him you can see a definitive style .

  16. Ras says:

    I watched the Barcelona game hier soir.

    I dream of Mat Hummels . What a defender?

    I’m wondering what Old Freddie n Roberto P are thinking ? The “ dressing room” in fighting that you réfèr to YW has been played out on the back of the tabloids.

    PEA spike to Canal Plus( The French équivalent to Sky Sports). I got the distinct feeling that PEA was calling out Xhaka .

    I don’t think PEA rates never mind respects the ‘ Club Captain’.
    Players don’t hide their disdain for others whom they see as not being up to the job.

  17. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Ras,

    Exactamundo !

    I don’t think it’s Happy Days down at London Colney….even if Fonzie is now our coach.

  18. Blue Yonder says:

    Ras,
    Players don’t hide their disdain for others whom they see as not being up to the job.

    Because leadership is leading by example. And that’s not happening.

  19. fell says:

    to be fair PEA is certainly not a leader of men so should not be granted the privelege of judging other players leadership qualities. unless he wants to man up
    I qualify this by the simple fact of as much as he delivers how oft has he failed to do so in the most mediocre yet critical of circumstance? Before any one asks me to qualify think tail end of last season

  20. Steve says:

    fell,
    Only two teams have more point than we do. Yet there is mutiny after five games out of thirty eight. Liverpool lost 2-0 on Tuesday, Chelsea lost 1-0 at home also in Europe. Man city lost 3-2 over the weekend I guess because a key player got injured. Bellerin and Holding have not played this season ditto our new leftback. The panic makes sense when the three are back. Felt bad with the draw in Watford. But that’s football. You don’t win all the time. To talk of sacking our coach at this stage is ridiculous. I guess we will improve and do well at the end of the season.

  21. G4E says:

    YW…..Absolutely right about Laca and Auba leaving. Those 2 players can produce add some magic to any strong team, and currently, Arsenal is not IT.

    Those players might not be there next season, add to them someone like Bellerin might be tempted by a Barcelona or any other serious Club.

    Spending on the team in pieces strategy might work with a strong manager who will focus on results even if it means playing 6 in the back.
    You need to win something with these players or they will run away, just as many before them did.

    Do you remember how many good players we lost to our rivals? Selling Giroud was another mistake of those. At least he would have covered for Laca or Laca covered for him, Giroud gave us the ability to hold the ball up front and the option of the headers in the box.

    ** Did anyone see Under 23 Arsenal Vs Everton? 2-2 same exact naive defending and easily beaten by a long ball and another diagonal with some shady defending from Goal keeper and defenders.
    It was like watching the First Team with different players.

    I don’t expect any managerial changes any time soon, it shouldn’t be, unless something goes horribly wrong. Emery needs to step up his game and not by rushing injured players back.

    P.S. Please ditch the play from the back malarkey, we don’t have defense or midfield for it. At least not at the moment.

    On to the Europa League…..Joy.

  22. Papa Bear says:

    It may be worth to take a punt with our little Freddie L.
    Robbie Burton could be promoted to the senior team to challenge that clown Xhaka.

  23. YW says:

    Any coach without experience is ruled out in my book. Any ex-player who is highly regarded would be mad to go for the #1 role at a club in this much shit.

    Thierry Henry to Monaco.

    I rest my case.

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