Unai Emery arrived to the Emirates dugout last year after 22 years of Arsene Wenger in charge. Naturally, he was (and still is) expected to deliver where the legendary Frenchman failed in his last few seasons in the job, and that is for Arsenal to play Champions League football.
However, Emery failed in his debut campaign, and while that is certainly understandable to an extent, it won’t be acceptable forever. The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain boss enjoys the trust of the board at the moment, but according to various reports, the pressure is now gradually mounting with the aim of finishing inside the top four in the Premier League an absolute priority. That is to say that many believe Emery will be sacked next summer if that particular goal isn’t reached again.
Naturally, when a club opts for the manager to be sacked, the question of his successor is the first to pop up. So who should replace Emery next year, if he fails?
There has recently been plenty of talk about the controversial Portuguese tactician’s wish to return to the Premier League and win major trophies with a third club. As you know, he’s won the Premier League three times with Chelsea, the League Cup three times as well, and the 2007 FA Cup. With Manchester United he won the League Cup and the Europa League. So should Arsenal be looking to take advantage of his expertise and desire to work in England again?
When Wenger came in back in 1996, Arsenal became distinguished from most of the other teams in the Premier League for their technically tweaked style, and though other teams play that way too these days, and unfortunately, seem to be better at it, the Gunners still mainly play that way. The arrival of Mourinho at the helm would likely change that, but given his past work, it’s reasonable to assume he would first and foremost endeavor to strengthen the defence. And let’s face it, Arsenal’s defence is badly in need of strengthening. So would “the Special One” be the right one?
There is another alternative, similar to what Mourinho’s former employers are doing at the moment, and that is giving a former player, a club legend, a chance. There can be no doubt that what Frank Lampard is doing at Chelsea this season is worthy of respect, especially in the light of the transfer ban the Blues have been imposed with. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started well at United, but right now things are a bit shaky for the Norwegian.
An article recently published by The Athletic spoke of Ljungberg as a model coach in the making. The former midfielder is credited with the development of players such as Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock, both of whom have made a significant contribution to the first team this season. Quite apart from that, the Swede’s desire to do his job well is further underlined by the fact that he has taken up learning Spanish, so he can communicate with Emery on a higher lever.
So should Arsenal follow in the footsteps of Chelsea and United and appoint Mourinho? Or should they follow in their post-Mourinho footsteps and appoint Ljungberg? Or is there a third option?