In the midst of all the giddiness and joy among Arsenal fans at the prospect of a brand new, literally shiny, high profile manager taking over the reins of management from that wizened, grizzled old grand-dad we had all gotten used to, something just doesn’t ring true.
Don’t get me wrong. Although am a well known partisan for Arsene Wenger, I have nothing against Unai Emery and wholeheartedly welcome him to the club and truly wish for him all the success possible. He is young and handsome, a very telegenic face, around which the PR people at the club can only drool. Apparently, when unveiled to the media, he said all the right things which had the hacks in rapture as they pounded their keyboards, oiled their tongues for radio or were dabbed with makeup before video recording the usual clichéd segment for TV. Most of all he has a brilliant CV, starting in the boondocks of Spanish football taking a couple of clubs to promotion, excelling at Sevilla with 3 Europa League titles and, prior to Arsenal, managing one of the biggest-moneyed clubs in Europe ending with a quadruple of titles. Surely he is the perfect man for the job.
And that is what triggers my contrarian instinct. The script is just too perfectly written.
By the way, we all have a contrarian streak genetically coded into the deep reptilian recesses of our cranium, the one that tell us: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. But too often, most of us get suckered by our emotions, based on narratives fomented by the mainstream media, and forget to listen to our brains, not our heart.
Something is “too good to be true” with the narrative we are now being sold. According to almost all the usual suspects Emery will save us from the washed-up, stupid, old fool who only managed an Invincible year as part of 3 league titles, 7 FA cups and kept us in the top-4 for 20 out of 22 years:
“Emery will get Arsenal more organised than they have been”. (BBC)
“What they will be getting is a coach who is fully committed and, in his approach to preparation, a startling break from what they have been used to. If Wenger’s twilight years at the club produced a team that often appeared under-coached, then the reign of Emery will be the exact opposite.” (Independent)
“Where Arsène Wenger’s teams may have descended into the painfully one-dimensional, Emery’s outlook is one of nuance and precision, which may well suit Arsenal’s developing team rather more than the entrenched, haughty collection of Parisian stars.” (Guardian)
Disorganized, Under-coached and One-dimensional
So less than two weeks after Wenger’s final game the football media takes off the gloves; no more of the hypocrisy, flattery and lofty odes to one of the greatest managers in English football. His teams, in their own words, were disorganized, under-coached and one-dimensional. Thus the need to hire Unai Emery who it is predicted will bring glory to north London, apparently the type experienced by Sevilla and PSG. Mark you Sevilla last won the Spanish league title in 1945-46 and PSG has not even made the Champions league final since gobbling up hundreds of millions of the best oil money the sheiks of Qatar could throw at the club over the past 7 years.
Apparently things were so bad under Wenger, Arsenal’s last trophy of worth was the FA cup as far back as May 2017. Moreover, things were so bad in the 17-18 season, they had a mere 14 home-wins, the second highest in the league.
This is the same media (as well as most bloggers and podcasters) who choose to ignore the fact that since 2005, Wenger has progressively been outspent by three clubs in the premier league. In fact one news media, in their effort to downplay the magnitude of the disparity, characterized Arsenal as the 3rd strongest club financially in England. In other words, this liar and misleader, was suggesting Arsene should be consistently averaging 3rd in the league because of the financial resources available.
Clearly the new manager, who is currently being feted and glad handled, is already being setup. He is expected to outperform Wenger’s average 4th place finish over the past 12 years at a time when United and Chelsea are desperate to make up the difference with City, there being a gap of 19 points between 1st and 2nd at the end of last season. Moreover as was reported in sputniknews.com, Abramovich recently had his Tier I visa held up by the UK government, a privilege to freely travel back and forth which is tied to volume of his investments in the country. It doesn’t take an expert to predict he will make another handy investment in Chelsea in the next transfer window to prove his bona-fides.
Why this elaborate set up?
Why are we being sold such a grand story of failure by Arsene, so much so that the club needs a savior, a metaphoric David to rescue Arsenal from the Philistines? Isn’t it amazing that in 2 years, Arsene moved from being the most powerful man at Arsenal to being a has-been. Be reminded that the 16-17 season started with great optimism, the club having acquired Mustafi, Xhaka and Lucas Perez to supplement the group who came 2nd to Leicester the prior year. But at the start of the season and Mertersacker, one of the cornerstones of the central defensive partnership, suffers a season-ending injury. The new Koscielny-Mustafi or Koscielny-Gabriel partnership is unable to replicate the level of the old-firm. In October, Santi Sazorla, the mastermind of prior year victories over United, City and Chelsea also suffers a season-ender. To this day the combined ‘expertiste’ of the media makes no connection between the injuries to two of Arsenal’s best players and the club coming 5th that season. Instead there is a massive blame-game on Wenger. When he was offered only a two year contract, it was self-evident his future was in doubt.
What is most striking is how this was the opening for the chief executive, Mr Gazidis, to seize power away from Mr. Wenger. In the summer of 2017 we are informed the CEO has moved his offices from Arsenal House to London Colney, the training ground. In relatively short order Mislintat becomes chief scout and Sanllehi as head of football relations. As a famous denizen of this blog tweeted there are now 5 people doing the job Wenger performed by himself.
But while the corporate office has grown bigger and surely more expensive, Arsenal suffered on the field with points lost not only due to player inconsistency (at least 8 first team players from 2016-17 are gone) but also from a pattern of poor and biased refereeing by the PGMO. If the CEO and his team were campaigning for VAR in the executive suites of the Premier League it was a “silence of the lambs”.
What convinced me that the Emery appointment may be just one big show is a piece in the Guardian by one David Hynter which suggests he was ordered to do a PR piece on behalf of Mr Gazidis. They are quick to highlight the following:
- Gazidis is responsible for signing Ozil
- Gazidis is, first and foremost, a football lover.
- Gazidis has long advocated a management structure that does not rest on a single point or employee because, when it fails, there is the potential for the whole thing to collapse. He has wanted a broader coalition of talented specialists greater than the sum of its parts and, for so long, his efforts were frustrated by Wenger, to whom the club’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, was in thrall. Wenger had a hotline to Kroenke and he could shape or veto Gazidis’s ideas.
- Gazidis wanted a director of football but Wenger pushed his friend Dick Law into a position of executive-level authority.
- Gazidis wanted greater expertise in data and contracts and hired Hendrik Almstadt only for Wenger to say he did not want him.
- Gazidis oversaw the purchase of the data analytics company, StatDNA, but Wenger was not a fan.
Hynter concludes with a flourish:
“It was a meticulously orchestrated coup and Gazidis carried it off while showing all the respect in the world to Wenger, who has watched virtually all of his people leave the club. It has felt like a plot-line from Gomorrah, the Neapolitan mafia drama. Gazidis was not always the favourite to outlast Wenger. Now, his position looks stronger than ever.”
I could not have said it better than Mr Hynter. The evidence clearly points to a coup. He says it in triumph but I am disgusted by the lowball tactics that have been employed.
As an aside, while I arrived at a similar conclusion, by taking the available facts to their logical conclusion, because yours truly does not write for a big mainstream newspaper, I would be accused by the charlatans in the media (as well as the bloggers and podcasters) of being a conspiracy theorist for calling out Mr Gazidis for being Wenger’s Brutus.
Unfortunately, most coups fail because they are based on lies and the golpistas (Spanish) rule without the consent of the people. That is why I fear for Emery. He may think he is a big-time Charlie but he is just a chump in a giant con being played on Arsenal fans. The new manager will find the Premier League is made up of several merciless sharks; mainly the three clubs with giant financial teeth whom he cannot compete in the transfer market, the other big one being the PGMO whose job is to protect the big boys from being upset as the PL needs the external money to keep flowing.
I wish Emery all the best but the signs aren’t good. He is on 2 year plus one contract suggesting he is a placeholder, a short-term appointment. Does this mean Arsenal has ended its tradition of managers being long-term appointees with time to build a team that can compete for titles without busting the bank?
Am not predicting the future, but as much as most fans are optimistic that under his management it could get better for Arsenal, I am duty bound to warn my readers that odds are even and it could get worse. Be afraid, be very afraid.