No Cunning Plan? Emery Could Be The New George Graham!

I am new to this site and despite blogging for a decade many will not know me. Let me start by giving you my Arsenal credentials …
See the source image
I had a season ticket at AFC for almost 40 years – North Bank then Clock End then Emirates. I attended the Fairs Cup win against Anderlecht and almost all the games in the Double season of 1970/71. Travelled Europe following the lads including seeing us win a Cup in Copenhagen and lose two in Paris. I have run away from Leeds, Man Utd and Liverpool fans committed to doing me harm. I have pretended not to be a Gooner whenever I went to White Hart Lane.
I  moved house in order to see the ground (Emirates) from my bedroom window.
In recent years I left London and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark which led me to blogging, running a successful blog for many years until deciding it was simply too much work and too much repetition.
I have an irrational hatred for Spurs.
Essentially I am a Gooner. 
After regularly reading the excellent posts and comments on Bergkampesque I now have the privilege to write a post on TA’s fine blog.

Subject? The Usual … Mr Emery.

Let’s go back in time.
Mid 1980’s. Arsenal were struggling, we, had won a few Cups but were way off the pace in the League. A change was needed and we signed a new manager from Millwall, George Graham (henceforth GG). It was a risk as GG, who is one of my very favourite all-time players, had no 1st Div experience and was a foreigner (Bargeddie, Scotland).
See the source image
He needed to transform an underachieving but ambitious club. How did he do it? He started by …
  1. Freezing out the under-achieving mega-stars at the club (Woodcock and Caton in year 1, Nicholas and Marriner later))
  2. He brought through a number of youth players who were inculcated into the Arsenal Way (Adams, Rocastle, Keown, Merson Thomas, Hayes)
  3. He signed players from the UK who were versed in British football culture. (Dixon, Winterburn, Marwood, Richardson, Smith)
The first season was a struggle but we won the League Cup (just) and finished 4th. 6th in GG’s second season. But by now he had got to grips with the team and tightened up the defence. Attack was not a problem – we scored loads of goals with Hayes and Smith scoring over 20.
The football was hardly scintillating but to us Gooners who were used to mid-table mediocrity we started to see the green shoots of upcoming success. A few seasons later I recall being delighted when GG was sacked because it meant that we could stop watching the dreadful football week in week out.
Remind you of anyone?  Mr Emery perhaps?
So much talk about Emery. Results versus performance. Would you prefer to win ugly or draw/lose flamboyantly? Is it better to go down in flames?
mesut happy
  1. He has frozen out Ozil (perhaps), And before we get into an argument, is there anyone who believes Ozil has performed to his best over the past 18 months? Cech and Mhiki are gone.
  2. Emery is bringing through some exciting youngsters (Saka, Douzi, Nelson,Martinell etc)
  3. Signed players with experience of British football (Holding,Chambers, Luiz, Tierney – yes, I know AW signed Holding & Chambers but UE played them)
Could Emery be the new George Graham?
We wanted change and knew change would take time, yet many are venting their frustrations primarily because they are seeing something new and in transition and it is certainly not the finished product.
A major concern for fans is that there seems to be no discernible tactical plan. Do you really believe that man who is so obsessed with tactics and has been hugely successful has no long term plan? Really?
In my opinion UE has a “Cunning Plan”.
Or, of course, the above could be complete and utter bolleaux.
Written by Erik the Red

17 thoughts on “No Cunning Plan? Emery Could Be The New George Graham!

  • Superb post, Erik, and thank you for the appreciative words!

    I love the background info and you clearly speak from decades of Arsenal support experience. Even though I know you struggle with the quality of our football under Emery as much as any of us, it is a fair to defend our current manager non the less. Has he got a plan as in working towards something? Most possibly, and the results have been going his way this season so who is to complain other than us fans who want to see our resources used much better and more attractive football in general?

    I reckon the best thing to do is see how things unfold in the next few months. By the second of January we will know a lot more…. 🙂

  • Brilliant post Erik, it’s good to be able to read another of your well written, straight forward posts.

    I must have followed you around in 1970/71 as I watched every home game (from the clock end) and the FA Cup final – I still (proudly) have the original programme’s to every game. The most special one being the 4-0 win against Man U – as I managed to get the autograph’s of George Best, Charlie George and Jon Sammels.

    Like your good self I’ve lived through and watched year after year of dull, boring football and I’m afraid Emery may have brought it back. I’m an unabashed supporter of fast flowing, attacking football and I live for the day we will once again be blessed to see it played by Arsenal.

    The unanswered question is can Emery fulfill my hopes? Frankly I’m unsure but I’m willing to give him his opportunity. Whenever he lets the players loose they excell – so we have witnessed the potential, but will he allow it to blossom?

  • okay i see what you are saying and, in some ways, yes, it is accurate but i am sure you can find enough similarities between Wengers final yr. at Arsenal and emery’s 1st yr. if you look hard enough.
    I was of the impression that GG started off playing good football but got worse after taking a beaten in Europe. Also, as you pointed out there were shoots of recovery and GG won early to buy good grace to implement his ideas to the full.
    The comment you make on integrating youth, what youth team player has emery given a debut to? Saka (was that Freddie’s influence?) Zak Swanson i think but who else has he blooded? not 100% sure but didn’t GG bring through a lot of those youth players at the time? promoting from youth team and given debuts in 1st team?
    emery is making drastic changes without the success (from EL final or top 4 PL) that would have kept the vocal minority quiet. That minority (including myself) have not seen shoots of recovery in fact see more manure than ever.
    I will wait till the end of the season to form a definitive judgement but judging from last season campaign, i say this guy is well out of his depth!

  • Ha! 👍😀 Thanks for your inaugural blog EtR on BK- here’s hoping to see more!
    Very interesting perspective and comparison to GG. I certainly hope Emery has a cunning plan. The interim (before the plan can come to fruition) is certainly quite frustrating and depressing.
    Granted, social media makes life more challenging for managers these days. But, how were GG’s changes (and games lost) received initially by the Arsenal faithful? Wasn’t his team still a step above his predecessor? Was there a desire from the fanbase for “team identity” or “playing style” when he took over as there seems to be now?

  • This is part of an article I wrote several years back on Arsenal Managers.

    George Graham: 1986-1995

    George was born in Bargeddie, Lanarkshire. He was brought up by his mother and was the youngest of seven children who all lived in poverty. While still a youngster George showed considerable promise as a footballer and professional clubs like Aston Villa, Newcastle and Chelsea showed interest in his ability.

    On his 17th birthday, in 1961, he was signed by Aston Villa, and later went on to play for Chelsea before being brought to Arsenal by Bertie Mee in 1966. With Arsenal he won a medal in the 1969–70, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and was a part of Arsenal’s Double-winning side of 1970–71. He was transferred to Manchester United midway through the 1971-72 season and finally finished his playing career in California.

    After retiring from playing he coached at Crystal Palace and then later Queens Park Rangers before being appointed manager of Millwall, who were bottom of the old Third Division.

    Arsenal, who had not won a trophy since the FA Cup in 1978–79, appointed him as their new manager in May 1986. Arsenal finished fourth in his first season in charge, and then went on to win the 1987 League Cup. His sides featured tight defensive discipline, embodied by Tony Adams, who along with Lee Dixon, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn, formed the basis of Arsenal’s famous defence for over a decade. However, his teams were not only about defence as he had more than capable midfielders such as David Rocastle, Michael Thomas and Paul Merson, plus striker Alan Smith, who regularly scored 20 plus goals per season. In (1988–89), Arsenal won their first League title since 1971.

    In the final game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield; Arsenal needed to win by two goals to take the title; Alan Smith scored for Arsenal early in the second half to make it 1–0 and with only seconds to go Michael Thomas surging through the Liverpool defence and lifting the ball over Bruce Grobbelaar and into the net.

    The 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup was his last trophy at the club; the following February he was sacked after nearly nine years in charge, after it was discovered he had accepted an illegal £425,000 payment from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge following Arsenal’s 1992 acquisition of John Jensen and Pål Lydersen, two of Hauge’s clients. George was eventually banned for a year by the Football Association for his involvement in the scandal, after he admitted he had received an “unsolicited gift” from Hauge.

    George Graham’s league record –
    Games 364, Won 167, Drawn 108, Lost 89,
    Goals for 543, Goals against 327,
    Goals for per game 1.49, Goals against per game .90
    Points won = 55.6%.
    Average League Position 5.11
    Total # of trophies won – 2 League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 Cup Winners Cup.

  • Erik, I like your three part series on; yourself, GG and UE. I enjoyed all.

    A little to a year ago I posted here that Emery should meet the players he inherited half way. Most didn’t agree with me because Emery had come with the big words; energy, intensity and protagonist. Now i have moved away from that idea because after weeding and recruiting players he aught to be in a much better position to implement his ideas more rigidly. With so many new players to his collection, Luiz, Tierney, Chambers, Ceballos, Pepe and to a good extent also Saka, Nelson, ERS and to a lesser extent Willock, Holding and Bellerin (12 players) a 3 months (up to Nov) grace for gelling is only fair. I remember Wenger saying that introducing more than 3 new player into a team can be disruptive. Am quite hopeful we’d be getting better by the week from now on. Luckily and I mean luckily our results so far have been fair enough.

    One other thing Kosh, Sanlehi and co are injecting a fresh energy into the club. They are well placed to be able to evaluate Emery’s challenges and progress well. I trust they would not allow him to stay if they find him wanting. Where we are by mid season would be very instructive.

  • To summarize, am battling with myself from tagging Emery as yet. Still I have clipped a number of sub tags on him. He is clearly a football obsessive which SHOULD mean that he must have a philosophy i.e. a plan. Whether the plan is viable or not, I believe, requires a little more time to ascertain conclusively. I like the squad he has and is assembling. Whatever is the contributions from other quarters (eg Freddie’s) does not detract from the fact that it is his squad as the boss. Freddie could not have been imposed on him. He approved or maybe even requested for him. His contract must give him such rights.

    To my thinking the signing of Pepe is a big indicator of what UE is trying to set up. £72m should give clues. Pepe is direct. Auba is also direct. They are pacy and not very good with pretty triangles. It looks to me that he is aiming for a team with a quick transitional ability in the opponent’s half. That would make him more of a Simione of Atletic Madrid than a Pep of Barca. If am right and he gets it right, we would miss the Wenger’s beautiful triangles but in its place would be an efficient killing machine which to the technical eyes is even prettier aka Atl. Madrid of Simione. Of course, my thinking can be way of the mark but time would soon tell.

  • Here is a look at Unai Emery’s record to date (both seasons combined) against each team.

    Team – W – D – L
    Aston Villa- 1 – 0 – 0
    Bourne’h – 3 – 0 – 0
    Brighton- 0 – 2 – 0
    Burnley – 3 – 0 – 0
    Cardiff C- 2 – 0 – 0
    Chelsea – 1 – 0 – 1
    Crystal P – 0 – 1 – 1
    Everton – 1 – 0 – 1
    Fulham – 2 – 0 – 0
    Hudders’d- 2 – 0 – 0
    Leicester- 1 – 0 – 1
    Liverpool- 0 – 1 – 2
    Man U – 1 – 2 – 0
    Manc C – 0 – 0 – 2
    New’c – 3 – 0 – 0
    South’n – 1 – 0 – 1
    Spurs – 1 – 2 – 0
    Watford – 2 – 1 – 0
    West H – 1 – 0 – 1
    Wolves – 0 – 1 – 1
    Total: – 25 – 10 – 11

  • To those who responded to the post, hank you for the kind words.

    So many of the “statements” about Ozil are pure supposition and assumption. No-one knows what lies at the core of the Ozil situation apart from the protagonists.

    Why assume it is Emery who is making the playing decisions – it could equally be Ozil?. We simply do not know.

  • Erik, we have statements from Emery that he is not playing Ozil because he believes the German is not working hard enough, as in others are working harder so they deserve it more. That to me shows that Emery is making the decision not to play Ozil…

  • Erik, I just found this article – which strongly indicates that Ozil wants to and will stay to the end of his contract.
    Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil insists he’ll see out his current deal with the club and will not be leaving the Gunners in January. The German has been heavily linked with an exit from the Emirates as he’s started just one league game this term. Unai Emery was keen on offloading Ozil last January but Arsenal couldn’t find a buyer for the 30-year-old, who signed a new four-year deal worth £350,000-a-week in 2018. Ozil briefly won back his spot towards the end of last season but he’s been further marginalised this term following the arrival of Dani Ceballos. Ozil is confident of winning back his spot Ozil is confident of winning back his spot (Picture: Getty) Emery has offered few assurances to Ozil over his long-term future but the German insists his future remains in north London and he will not leave before his contract expires in 2021. Asked whether he would be leaving the club, Ozil told the Athletic: ‘No. I have a contract until the summer of 2021 and I will be staying until then. ‘When I signed the new deal, I thought about it very carefully and said it was one of the most important decisions of my footballing career. I didn’t want to stay for just one or two more years, I wanted to commit my future to Arsenal and the club wanted me to do the same. ‘You can go through difficult times, like this, but that is no reason to run away and I’m not going to. I’m here until at least 2021. ‘I said that Arsene Wenger was a big factor in me joining Arsenal — and he was — but ultimately I signed for the club. Even when Arsene announced he was leaving, I wanted to stay because I love playing for Arsenal and that’s why I’ve been here for six years. ‘When I moved from Real Madrid, it was a really tough time for Arsenal. But I always believed in what we could do and together we delivered. More recently things have been difficult and a lot has changed. But I’m proud to be an Arsenal player, a fan and I’m happy here. Whenever people see me in the street I always say, ‘This is my home’. I’m going nowhere.’ More: Arsenal FC zone post image for post 10934607 Carlo Cudicini stopped me walloping Arsene Wenger, says Clive Allen zone post image for post 10934555 Arsenal issue Alexandre Lacazette injury update ahead of Sheffield United clash zone post image for post 10933605 Sicknote? Mesut Ozil hits back at Arsenal legends who don’t know the truth Emery was influential in Arsenal’s decision to withdraw a contract offer to Aaron Ramsey worth around £200,000-a-week and he remains keen to cut the club’s wage bill. The Spaniard effectively utilised a budget of just £45m last summer to bring in the likes of David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceball

  • Another article on the Ozil/Emery matter…………..

    Emery has largely opted not to discuss Ozil’s absence in public, making a few notable exceptions of late. But head of football Raul Sanllehi’s recent claim that he “needs to contribute 24/7” and “there are others who are deserving more playing time” has increased the pressure on the 31-year-old.

    “All I know is what has already been said,” Ozil told The Athletic.

    “It’s disappointing, of course. But as a professional footballer, I have to respect the decision of the coach. Not being involved, watching from home, makes me feel helpless.

    “I want to be part of the side, I want to support my team-mates to succeed. I’m not training all the time just for the sake of it, I’m ready to play. This should not be about me or the coach, only the club. I have to give everything, be fit and focused, and I’m training hard to be ready.

    “Pre-season went very well and although things were disrupted by the attack, since then I’ve been fully available and when the coach has selected me I’ve been ready, played and always tried to give my best.

    “I’ve trained at the same level my whole career but because I’ve not had minutes recently, I’m doing extra work with the fitness coach and in the gym to get even fitter than normal. I know what is needed and believe in myself.”

    Ozil also described suggestions he had been putting in less effort after signing a new contract as “ridiculous” and “total rubbish”.

    “If that was true,” he said, “why did I work so hard and positively during pre-season this year? And why, after the World Cup last year, did I return from holiday early for the first time in my career to start training three days before I was expected back?

    “I did it for the new coach, the team and the club. Maybe people don’t like that I have a good contract? I don’t know or care.”

  • Fair enough. It seems as though it is Emery who is the prime mover in the decision not to play Ozil.

    I keep trying to find reasons to support our manager but sadly I am struggling. Nonetheless, whilst he remains manger of the club I love, he will have my support.

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