Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery was a divisive figure towards the end of his time in North London, but in the midst of his run at the Emirates, a lot of people were willing to give him the time he needed to succeed. As time went on it became clear that he was struggling to make the necessary impact, and that it was a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he was going to be removed from the position.
Now, during a recent interview with France Football, Emery wasn’t shy about calling out some of his players from during that tenure.
“Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years before I arrived. We stopped this fall and even began to rebuild the club with the Europa League final and fifth place in the league, only one point off Tottenham despite the fact that we took just one point in our final five matches.
“We had Champions League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end. But it was a good season and we had this notion of continuing to improve.
“But we lost our four captains: [Laurent] Koscielny, [Petr] Cech, [Aaron] Ramsey and [Nacho] Monreal. They were personalities that we missed this season to stay on the right track, and some stars did not have a good attitude and asked for more than what they were giving back.
Right or wrong?
“Taking all of that into account, we needed time to succeed with our transition to a new Arsenal, which is what I wanted.”
The focus of Unai Emery will now shift to whatever he does next in his management career, but in terms of this saga, somehow it doesn’t feel as if we’ve heard the last of it.
If nothing else, it gives fans the ammo necessary to distract themselves from the winter break.
How do you feel about Unai Emery’s comments?