Arsenal 1 – 2 Eintracht Frankfurt
And so the axe fell. The club put out a cursory statement ending the reign of Unai Emery; Freddie Ljungberg will “take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach.”
The joke about the Spaniard being so far out of his depth that Jacques Cousteau couldn’t save him can wait for another day.
Ljungberg is a popular short-term appointment which may evolve into a permanent appointment. Honestly, as much as I loved Freddie as a player, I cannot see him as Arsenal boss just yet. That said, a year or so at Derby is hardly preparation for a Premier League job but Chelsea took the punt. It’s paying off; will that influence Raul’s thinking.
Make no mistake, Sanllehi pulled the trigger. The recommendation to Junior and Enos meant Emery was finished. Our long-distance owners would not have taken that decision on their own.
Kroenke, dubbed “the most powerful man in sports“, is just a builder and not a very good one at that, and has other things on his mind. Arsenal’s travails? He doesn’t care until nights like yesterday when the ground was barely half-full despite the 49k tickets officially sold.
So, they let the former Barcelona man grow a set and make a decision a fortnight, if not a lot longer, too late. We find out now if he’s Don Raul or D’oh Raul in this change. Questions are rightly surfacing about him and the Kroenke’s, as well as the rest of The Muppet Show. Now, they must prove they know football.
The club needs shaking up, from top to bottom. As with the managerial appointment, the rush for change must not blind us to the quality of the appointments needed or the structural alterations necessary.
Our immediate reality is that Ljungberg has been given 48 hours to prepare the team for Norwich. How much change can he effect realistically in that time? I’m not banking on a great deal.
The match is a free pass. Lose and it’s almost a shrug of the shoulders. Raul only gave him 48 hours what do you expect. Freddie will be given full credit for any win, however.
He’s got to find a tight defence, strong midfield and rapier attack in a couple of days. Unai couldn’t find any of that in eighteen months so why expect miracles now? What Ljungberg is relying on is the ‘new boss bounce’; the good performance which shows players had downed tools even though they promised they hadn’t.
It’s asking a lot. While individually the players may be better than their counterparts from the early-80s, as a team they are as bad, if not worse.
Last night typified that. One-nil up, we blew it. The game was over as soon as Eintracht Frankfurt equalised and we knew it. Two good shots – I doubt even Francis Drake could have saved us from that Kamada – for the goals but they looked more threatening whenever they had possession. We were left hoping that the referee was a Homer and chucking ourselves to the floor looking for an ill-deserved penalty as time ran out.
There’s no sense in the club’s statement of how long Freddie has to prove himself or if indeed, this is an option. As I’ve said previously, I do not believe now is the time to appoint an inexperienced coach. If there is a sense that Ljungberg is a long-term option then making him #2 as a condition for the new boss is the road to go down.
Freddie The Rebuilder: Can He Fix It?
Unless, of course, we’re writing this season off and using the next six months as a rebuilding exercise. The big clearout can begin in January but continues through next summer. It would need investment from Enos, money he probably doesn’t have given the $5bn cost overruns at the Rams new stadium. As I said earlier, he’s not a very good builder.
There’s a sense of relief in the news. I take no joy in Emery’s demise because he seemed an amiable man but from Arsenal’s point of view, it brings me a renewed vigour.
I don’t know if a sense of optimism about the future is revealed? It’s too soon and we don’t know who the next permanent manager is. Nor are we fully aware of the constraints they will be under, e.g. how many of the squad can they realistically get shot of in the next two windows.
All the while, The Muppet Show is under intense scrutiny. We’ve gone from one example of the footballing equivalent of “Are we there yet?” straight into another. Communication from the hierarchy was non-existent previously and that’s got to improve rather than leaving us to read what David Ornstein, the Man formerly of the BBC in Salford, writes or some other hackneyed source.
Equally, Junior and Enos need to get to grips with the board. It took stories of Sir Chips thinking of resigning for me to remember they existed. Raul may not like the extra scrutiny former players in those seats might bring but his actions so far mean that is probably what is needed.
The long-distance owners aren’t here and he is operating how he wants. Not ‘out of sight, out of mind’; more ‘out of sight, Enos won’t mind’.
Fred Up With All This?
The club’s governance has long been an issue but it is bubbling up once again. Indeed, this whole scenario shows the issue absentee owners bring. Enos is feted in the NFL but over here, KSE has zero credibility. They are learning a harsh lesson that fans hold owners to higher scrutiny over here and football fans are especially volatile.
This morning sees a belated first step taken. It doesn’t bring them any goodwill and anybody who rejoices in Emery’s unemployment on a ‘personal’ level needs to take a long, hard, look at themselves.
What we have now is another opportunity to try for the top four. My guess is that without a strong series of wins in the next eight weeks, that which is already out of reach will move to become unattainable.
The rollercoaster ride continues. The question is are we uncontrollably sliding down the track or through the nadir and beginning the slow climb to the top.