Despite a lot of speculation that Mikel Arteta would be taking over as Arsenal manager, it was announced yesterday by BBC Sport’s David Ornstein that the Arsenal board “unanimously” chose former Sevilla and PSG manager Unai Emery to replace the long-serving Arsene Wenger. Due to the surprise nature of this announcement, many Arsenal fans were puzzled.
In his first three managerial stints, Unai Emery looked like he had the potential to be a fantastic manager. In two seasons at Lorca, he got them promoted to their first ever season in the Spanish Second Division, and almost got them promoted to La Liga the next year. Then, Emery went on to Almeria where he got the club promoted to La Liga, before moving on to manage Valencia. Despite Valencia having many financial struggles, Emery was able to have relative success at the club. In four seasons, Emery led Valencia to a sixth-place finish, followed up by three successive third-place finishes.
Emery then went onto Spartak Moscow, and the less said about his time there the better. After getting sacked by Spartak, Emery went on to manage Sevilla. Emery is most known for winning three consecutive Europa Leagues at Sevilla, before moving on to PSG. At PSG, Emery failed to win Ligue 1 his first season but won the league this past season.
Despite what seems to be a great track record, I feel as if this hire is uninspiring. Emery had continental success at Sevilla, but never looked too great in the league. In his three full seasons as Sevilla manager, he finished fifth, fifth, and seventh in La Liga. While the Europa League victories are a plus, Sevilla’s lackluster league form is a concern, especially for Arsenal.
The biggest concern with Unai Emery is his time with PSG the past two seasons. Despite having an endless transfer budget and an already fantastic squad, he failed to win the league with PSG, losing out to AS Monaco. He only won the league after he spent over 360 million euros to purchase players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Dani Alves. With Arsenal’s budget for the upcoming year reported to be just a mere 50 million pounds, don’t expect Emery to be able to splash the cash again.
All in all, I feel as if the Emery hire is a little underwhelming for Arsenal. However, just remember that Arsene Wenger was a complete unknown when he was hired, and garnered much criticism before he even managed a match. While I’m not saying that Unai Emery will be as good of a manager for Arsenal as Wenger, you should never judge a hire before a match is even played.