Focus, energy, teamplay, talent and perseverance. Look at successful people, organisations and teams and they have plenty of those five key attributes. Is it fair to say we at Arsenal are low on all of them right now? Will it change? Emery’s stats are poor but there is more to life than stats, and these stats can all of a sudden start to change. Judging a manager’s suitability for Arsenal, imho, needs to be based first and for all on the above mentioned attributes. And more importantly given the overall situation we are in, the next manager will have to offer plenty of these if we are to see a positive change (which may take time).
Focus(including integrity): we lack an authentic style, a plan in our football (other than come and shoot at us and we will do the same and let’s see who is more successful after 90 minutes of gunfire) and the players look lost when on the pitch. Wenger’s red-print has been painted over with a murky mess and we lost integrity (to our long-term values). The treatment of Xhaka by fans and manager epitomises this. We are not a passing team anymore, our sheets almost always become soiled and our big guns upfront are all we have. We are rudderless in midfield. A team needs focus, clarity, objectives, a system/plan… something to fall back on when things get tough. Emery looks lost, the BoD look lost, the players are lost, the fans are confused and disillusioned. What did Nietzsche say? Something like if you look long enough into the abyss the abyss will start looking into you?!
Energy: the boys (still) give their all so we have energy but this is the industrious kind of energy. What we are missing is spiritual energy which comes from belief in something bigger and better. The idea that we are on the road to somewhere higher up and glorious, and that we are reconnecting with the club’s past and values, is key. It looks like the players and supporters do not have that belief anymore, and we know what lies at the bottom… the abyss. We want our Arsenal back. Under Emery the team lacks spiritual energy.
Teamplay: the best teams do not rely on just buying the best players for each position: they play as a team and rise above the sum of its parts based around a system of football that works for, and is understood by, all. Great managers know how to achieve this and it is a joy to watch: they make both individual players and the team as a whole bigger. Think about Ajax in the mid-nineties, Leicester City a few years ago, Pool under Klopp, The Invincibles under Wenger. This is the most frustrating part of Emery: rather than seeming to play with 12 or 13 players on the pitch we often look a man down.
Talent (closely related to teamplay, in fact it cannot be seen separately): focus, energy and team play gets you far but we also need talent: from our academy and the market – young and experienced. It is about time that we get this right again, and the good thing is the money is being made available for it. Talent can be latent and it is up to the management team to bring it to the surface. Look at the Chavs and their ability to bring the latent talent (anagrams!) to the fore: we also have such talent in abundance and it is time to bring it out to dance on the pitch. We see glimpses of it at Arsenal, especially in the cup games, but it needs to become more established. How many players have significantly improved under Emery’s one-to-one mentoring?
Perseverance (and loyalty to the cause): ability to turn adversity into success. Not giving up but learn from mistakes, whilst believing in our vision/ core values, system of football and abilities. Again, look at Lampard’s Chelsea and you know what I mean. Yes they are still losing to the likes of Pool and Citeh but they give them a game every time they meet. And they are getting stronger but sticking to the plan and learning from their mistakes. I hate to say this but I like watching the Chavs these days, much more than Emery’s shooting-range football. Alarmingly, well more than alarmingly, under Emery the team lose confidence, shape and focus as soon as we concede: we have the bouncebackability of a comet.
So even more than the poor performance stats, its Emery’s lacking in the above-mentioned attributes that makes me believe we need a replacement. What the above hopefully also shows is that it’s not easy to find the right person. We may not need a big name with a glittering CV; let’s not get blinded by past success. We may need another ‘Arsene Who?’ moment. But do we have the new David Dein in our BoD, somebody with the deep football knowledge to pick the right person for our club? I doubt it very much.
Question to you, fine fellow BKers:
Based on the above-mentioned key attributes – and feel free to add some attributes as you see fit – who is best suited to replace Unai Emery?