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Unai Emery: Arsenal’s First Step on the Coaching Carousel

Today we awoke to the formal announcement that Arsenal had appointed Basque coach, Unai Emery to be their head coach, replacing long-time manager and club icon, Arsene Wenger. With that announcement Arsenal took it’s first step on to the great unknown that is the modern-day coaching carousel.

For 22 years we’ve been a sea of stability as everyone around us repeatedly changed managers. Some teams even doing it more than once in a given year. For years we laughed and chided Tottenham for how many managers they’ve had since Wenger was appointed.

That is no longer.

When I looked at the Arsenal web site this morning to read up on Unai Emery, there was general sense of excitement about the appointment. While a last minute dark horse in the race when all thought it was going to former Captain, Mikel Arteta, he certainly has all the bona fides that we need.

But a feeling came over me. It was surreal. It was general acceptance that I had not attachment to this man. I didn’t hold or possess the affection that had developed for Arsene Wenger – even when I was ready for the change, my admiration for the man never wavered.

Looking at Unai Emery, all I got was here is the guy who will keep the seat warm for next guy. And then it dawned on me that this is our new reality. Everything we chided other teams for is our new reality.

We used to laugh at those big team is England playing in the Europa League and now we’re on our second stint there. We used to laugh at teams who changed managers like clothes. And now we’ve opened the door to being just the same.

This isn’t a knock on Emery. From all aspects he truly looks like the manager Arsenal need right now. James McNicholas (@Gunnerblog) sums it up quite nicely in his piece today for Unibet – Unai Emery arrives – and Arsenal fans must try to trust the process.

Emery by all accounts is extremely prepared. He is a task master and studies his opposition to find ways to nullify their strong points and attack their weak points. Its everything we have been missing as the game has evolved from “letting them be creative.”

In a time when Arsenal were on wobbly footing and needing a stabilizing force, appointing Arteta would’ve been exciting but it may have presented further challenges until the ship finally righted itself and Arsenal had to be asking themselves if it was worth the gamble.

Additionally, in retrospect, Arteta may have been let off the hook here. The City assistant and former Arsenal star is generally well-liked in all spheres. However, had he come in to Arsenal and not been a success he would’ve ruined his career to an extent.

Now he gets time to continue to develop under Pep and maybe as we step on to the carousel, he is another horse on the ride for us. And you know what if that happens we might as well accept that he won’t be here long either.

It’s the modern game. Arsene Wenger represents the last bastion in an era that was long gone even before he left. The corporatization of football has fully reached the Arsenal shores and the last semblance of emotional attachment is gone.

Its not to say we won’t love our club. We of course will. But with players and now coaches there is no one who will any longer be linked with the stability and grace we’ve always associated ourselves with.

The question now is how will we accept this new paradigm? Is it something we can accept and understand the patience that needs to be had for any new manager. Or will we fall into the “results now” trap that other clubs have fallen into.

We do have big expectations but given our slide from the top are we in a position right now to be so demanding? The problem with the new realities of football is it leaves little room for patience.

If we aren’t and we don’t give a new manager time we may become exactly what we’ve railed against for so long, just another stop on the Managerial Merry Go ‘Round.

And frankly, that’s not Arsenal.



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