How Unai Emery was sacked: Writing on the wall after US meeting

The intricate details of Emery’s sacking indicate that a decision had been made about Emery’s future after the 2-2 draw against Southampton on November 23, and that the Spaniard had expected to take training as usual on Friday morning.

Jose Mourinho was also desired as Emery’s replacement by some senior figures at Arsenal, but the club will not panic to make an appointment, such is their faith in interim Freddie Ljungberg.

Here, we run through the ins and outs of Friday’s crescendo, which had been building for weeks before…

Before Friday

It is understood senior figures at Arsenal, including head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu, had decided before Thursday night that Emery needed to be replaced, and though owner Stan Kroenke was willing to give Emery more time, the Frankfurt defeat proved to be the final straw.

Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham flew to the USA on Monday, 48 hours after the 2-2 draw with Southampton for pre-planned talks with Stan and his son Josh Kroenke about the club, where the conversation about the club’s form continued.

It is understood that some senior figures at Arsenal wanted Jose Mourinho to replace Emery before Mourinho took over at north London rivals Tottenham on November 20.

The final decision to dismiss Emery was taken by Stan Kroenke, and the search for a new head coach started instantly.

Emery was sacked after just 18 months in the role “due to results and performances not being at the level required”, according to a club statement.

On the playing side, it is understood Arsenal players had lost faith in Emery and his methods, while his communication was a big issue.

But results had been the principal problem, even before this season. Arsenal missed out on qualifying for the Champions League by one point last season, before losing in the Europa League final 4-1 against London rivals Chelsea.

Friday morning

Emery was called into a meeting with Sanllehi on Friday morning, and was told he was losing his job, before Edu and Venkatesham came in. It is understood Emery took the news in a respectful manner, and as well as can be expected given the circumstances.

Reports that he had taken training on Friday morning were incorrect – Emery was spoken to shortly after his arrival, where he had expected to take training as normal. His entire Spanish backroom staff, sacked alongside Emery, were then told about the decision.

The players were told that Emery was leaving at a 10am meeting – led by Sanllehi, with Edu and Venkatesham present – and the news was posted on the Arsenal Twitter account just minutes later at 10.09am.

Emery said goodbye to the players individually, wishing them well for the future.

Interim boss Freddie Ljungberg then addressed the players with a rallying cry, telling them to stick together, help turn this around and play for the shirt.

Ljungberg, who has his UEFA pro licence despite reports to the contrary, will have his coaching team confirmed soon, and it may include Steve Bould, who essentially swapped jobs with Ljungberg in the summer to take over the U23s.

Friday’s 11am training was a recovery, warm-down session, with full training on Saturday ahead of their trip to Norwich, live on Sky Sports Premier League on Super Sunday (Kick-off 2pm). They will leave for Norwich on Saturday evening.

The future: Who next for Arsenal?

Arsenal are aware it will be difficult to make a high-calibre appointment midway through a season, and will not panic. They have faith that Ljungberg can steady the ship.

Names on Arsenal’s shortlist to replace Emery include Massimiliano Allegri, Mikel Arteta, Carlo Ancelotti, Brendan Rodgers and Nuno Espirito Santo.

Head of football Sanllehi has links with Jorge Mendes, while technical director Edu has links with Kia Joorabchian. The agents are likely to be involved in the appointment of a new head coach.

But it’s not impossible that Ljungberg will get the job on a permanent basis; he has impressed with the work he has done so far as a coach at the club.

Allegri was interviewed for the job 18 months ago, but was perceived as being slightly arrogant after he appeared to want Arsenal to convince him to come to the club.

Analysis: Emery was out of sync

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright…

‘Communication was, undoubtedly, an issue. It was evident in Arsenal’s confused performances and muddled tactics out on the pitch. It could also be seen in how the sagas surrounding Mesut Ozil’s future and Granit Xhaka’s captaincy were allowed to spiral out of control.

‘Too often, his Arsenal sides were set up to nullify opponents rather than impose themselves on games in the way the fans – and, perhaps, the players – expected. His deployment of five defenders and two holding midfielders for the recent visit of crisis-hit Southampton summed it up.

‘What’s most damning, however, is that for all Emery’s caution, for all his inherent conservatism as a tactician, his side remained so bewilderingly easy to play against.’

Read Sky Sports’ analysis of Emery’s tenure in full

What’s next on the pitch for Arsenal?

Arsenal travel to Norwich on Sunday at 2pm in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports, while their last Europa League group-stage clash is at Standard Liege on December 12 at 5.55pm.

2019-11-30T11:06:21+00:00By |

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