LONDON: Unai Emery promised “special moments and memories” for Arsenal fans after the former Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla coach was appointed as successor to Arsene Wenger.
The 46-year-old Spaniard emerged as surprise late contender earlier this week after it had appeared that former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta was in line to return to north London from his role as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Arsenal’s board and ceo Ivan Gazidis were won over by Emery after an interview which accentuated his track record of three successive Europa League titles with Sevilla and five French domestic trophies in two seasons with PSG.
The club had also considered Juventus’ Max Allegri, ex-Barcelona coach Luis Enrique and former club captain Patrick Vieira, now with New York City. Arteta was shocked at being overlooked after having discussed transfer plans and staffing last week.
Wenger left Arsenal at the end of the season after a 22-year reign with the club sixth in the Premier League and desperate for a new start with the new administrative staff assembled over the past year by Gazidis. These included Raul Sanllehi as head of football relations, Sven Mislintat (head of recruitment) and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy.
Emery said: “I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game. Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I hope to bring the fans special moments and memories.”
Coming with Emery from PSG will be Juan Carlos Carcedo (assistant coach), Pablo Villanueva (technical coach), Julen Masach (fitness coach) and Victor Manas (video analyst). Emery plans talks next week with Steve Bould on whether Wenger’s assistant wants to stay. Jens Lehmann is expected to remain as goalkeeping coach.
A priority for Emery will be to instil on-field discipline, find a new midfield shape and coach the best out of a wealth of both the club’s young talent older stars as well as older stars such as Mesut Ozil. The Germany midfielder was absent “ill” on a surprisingly high number of occasions.
Arsenal’s slide out of the top four owed much to a lack of concentration in defence where Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers have proved inconsistent, Laurent Koscielny is out injured until Christmas and Per Mertesacker has retired. In goal Petr Cech is no longer the keeper he once was,
Emery must also renew the style of Arsenal’s football to bring the fans back onside. The high number of empty red seats this past spring was probably the final factor leading to Wenger’s departure.
Emery was the second new manager appointed in London this week after confirmation of Manuel Pellegrini’s return to the Premier League at West Ham.
The former Manchester City Premier-winning manager arrived with a promise to reclaim the attacking stylish football for which West Ham were known before the recent survivalist styles of Sam Allardyce and David Moyes.
The Chilean has signed a three-year contract worth £7m-a-season and will have about £60m to spend on at least five new senior players. Some of that cash will be recouped by player sales in addition to the £27m profit made in the January transfer window.
Pellegrini, back in Europe after 18 months in China with Hebei Langfang, believes he can emulate his earlier achievements in Spain with modest Villarreal and Malaga.
He said: “I always play attacking football and I hope that I can repeat here what I did with all my clubs in Europe, where I have always arrived in European competition. I know all the West Ham players and I saw most of the games they played last season, so I’m sure that, with maybe another four or five players, we are going to have a strong team.”
Relegated Stoke have sacked Paul Lambert after he failed to extend their 10-year stay in the Premier League. Lambert replaced Mark Hughes in mid-season but won only two of his 15 games in charge – and one of those was after the club had already been relegated.