Has communication always been the problem since Emery joined Arsenal?

Arsenal’s new Spanish coach Unai Emery (well, I say new but he has been here over a year now) has always been a little hard for fans and pundits to understand, especially when he goes into long drawn out missives on his tactical play.

But, after a year with the best teachers money can buy, you would expect him to be pretty fluent in English by now, but alas he doesn’t really sound much more advanced in his pre-game conferences.

But it must be even harder for the players to keep up unless they are also Spanish speakers, as it is obvious that Emery has a very in-depth attitude to tactics and likes changing formations midway during games, sometimes every two or three times in the same match, so it is imperative that he is understood clearly.

But now the newest addition to the Arsenal first team, Bukayo Saka, has let the cat out of the bag and admitted that he needs to go to Freddie Ljungberg for translations. “It helps so much [to have Ljungberg there],” said Saka. “Sometimes when I don’t understand, when the coach is trying to communicate with me, I have a better communication with Freddie, he speaks better English.”.

Now I know that not everyone finds it easy to learn new languages, but you would think in a job like Emery’s, where you are regularly moving countries and dealing with many players with varying nationalities, it would be a prerequisite of the job?

Obviously Emery was asked if there was a problem, condidering Saka’s comments, and this is what he replied, according to Goal: I think no,”

“I have conversations particularly with Bukayo and Freddie does the same with individual players, not only with Saka.

“Also I spoke to Saka alone in my office and prepared sometimes some videos [for him]. I have also done videos with English players, Spanish players, German players, French players.”

“Last year on my first day I spoke to them (the players) very bad, worse than today,” said Emery. “But I have [continued to speak] English and now I think better.

“My English is, from one to 10, maybe a six. But at six I think the players can understand me. But if not, some help is good.”

Now some people may even think that a rating of six is reasonable after this amount of time, but that also means that he has been gradually building up to even that level, and of the players are finding it difficult now it must have been even worse for them last season while he was learning.

We all now that he likes to go into deep analysis of minute details of everyone’s game, but if the players haven’t quite understood him all this time, maybe that is why they looked so confused on the pitch at times last season. If he is trying to give intense training sessions, then maybe he should be taking some intense language lessons to make himself understood?


  1. I dont think that I have e er watched a full Emery interview due to his level of English. Do the players switch off like me?

    1. I can actually read his facial expressions better than his words. It looks like hes in a lot of pain so I can only guess he is expressing how bad he feels about the teams performance again!? 🤣🤣

    2. I don’t know if you speak any other language apart from your native language but I’m fairly certain that he’s trying his best to learn the English language. Most of the people castigating him for his struggles with the English language would struggle similarly to learn the Spanish language. A good case in point being gareth bale and his well documented struggle with the Spanish language.

      1. I couldn’t care less if he speaks 1 language or 10 ,I’m more worried about the fact he’s a shite coach .
        Someone posted that he’s was an honest person ,i would say he’s quite dishonest and sneaky TBH.
        Sooner he’s gone the Sooner we can move forward as a club ,it’s obvious that something isn’t working else we all wouldn’t be arguing about him .

    1. As far as I would like Emery out yesterday, I think his English has improved and it’s not easy to learn a new language . We got managers who have been in England for longer but worse English speakers than him . Remember also that it’s easier for German, Italian and french to learn English than it is for Spaniards. The worst part is that Emery has been to only french speaking league when he went out of Spanish league and this makes it even more complicated for him

  2. Not all coaches speak fluent English. The man has found another lame excuse to hide behind.
    Wrong tactics, wrong player selection, arrogance,nepotism/favoritism, ruining skilled and hungry players (Torrera/Ceballos) are the hallmarks of the man. Draw or loose tonight, the man should leave. Enough is enough.And take the scared ones with you like Pied Piper!

    1. He is not the one who brought up the issue of language,its Bukayo Saka who started it so he isnt hiding behind language issue

    1. I’d say Nelson is ahead of Saka on merit. They had a game where they were both on the pitch last week. Take your blinders off and tell me who delivered? Who was more exciting to watch? Nelson lofted that ball for chambers cross, scored, and was quite lethal down both flanks

  3. Guys. This guy was born and raised in Spain. His first stint out of Spain, was France. I’d give him a pass on slow English.

    Besides. Of his team, Bellarin speaks Spanish, Luiz is a Latin speaker so Spanish would be easy to understand, Sokratis played in Italy so Spanish would come easy, Torreira is a Latin speaker, Ceballos is Spanish, Auba speaks Latin, Martinelli speaks Latin, I know I’ve missed a few.

    Adding to that, Arsene Wenger spoke English, Spanish, Japanese, French, German fluently, and yet his players seemed more confused than Emery’s.

    The tactical Emery I watched last season against Napoli, Valencia, against Chelsea in the second leg and in many games is still in there.

    The team is just in a dip. We need to cheer them back up not start poking holes in what they’re doing.

    1. Yes yes, players were confused with what Wenger said and that’s how they became invincibles. Yeah right.

        1. And consecutive Top4 finish for 12yrs too, which seems to be the club’s ambition now. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. In this club the fans are the biggest problem after the player currently. Saks said something and we are reading meaning out of it left right and center. Now we don’t even understand him but i remember people on here saying is English is improving and bla bla bla. The problem isn’t communication, he’s not just good enough for arsenal fc.

  5. Exactly the same here ,
    With the wages his on he should be able to speak english ,sometimes I have to ask my wife did she understand what he said.
    What would he be like to understand at half time and the team is losing and his angry and his shouting.he looks so much like a vampire from old films…

    1. I never knew there’s a correlation between wages and his ability to learn a language. Good sir, how many languages do you speak and if more than one, how long did it take you to learn any other such language? I’m looking forward to your reply.

  6. I think Arsenal fans should be sincere and understand where this team is coming from. A look at Manchester United will give us a clue on what one should expect when a long service manager finally quits. If Manchester had been a bit patient with Louis Van Gaal, that club would be hot now.
    Arsenal fans are expecting a manager that has just made one year with the club to win hips of trophies just like that!!! I call that quick and opportunistic success. This manager was given a three year contract and you want him to be sacked just because he doesn’t choose the team the you him to choose it. To make matter worse, you are not a coach yourself. You do not spend time with these player he and his technical team does.

  7. Why didn’t he hire a translator? Conte hired one back then. That’s not uncommon, even Jose Maurinho was a translator.

  8. Of course it’s expected that Emery will have a challenge communicating with his players. Learning a different language is not an easy task, especially while working at the same time. How many of us can master a different language fluently in 1 year? We have players/managers who have been learning the language for more years than Emery but they are still struggling to communicate. Let’s not make a mountain out of mole hills. I have criticized Emery a number of times but I think this is stretching it a little too far.

  9. I really struggle big time with a lot of the criticism suddenly coming Emery’s way, but the personal stuff really *isses me off !

    Here’s a guy who spoke no to very little English upon taking our job.

    Yes he used a translator early doors, but not for long as he was determined to learn our language not only out of necessity but also out of respect to the club and it’s supporters – yes, you and me.

    Along with lessons, he admitted to persevering with watching English T.V. not for the crappy content but to pick up our language.

    What does he get for his efforts ?

    Yes he’s got a way to go, yes he may rattle on a bit too mush in his interviews – but for Christ’s sake give the man a break.

    Ask yourself, how would you get on if you took a job abroad and was required to learn the language in quick time.

    Show the man some respect, at least on a personal level.

    Welcome to Arsenal Football Club Unai !

    1. AJ – I agree that criticism should never get personal and that Emery seems like a decent guy. However, it is hard to argue IMO that he has failed to meaningfully improve our play.

      Yes, we got a few more points last season and that counts for something. But we rather than improve during his tenure and during last season we became worse towards the end of the season and we didn’t improve in the most critical part of our game, defending and/or conceding goals.

      After more than one season in charge at a top club he should have been able to bring some improvement.

      The only reason we have a chance at a top 4 finish is not because of what he has done for our game but more likely because of the the failure of Man U (for now) to improve and the question marks over Chelsea’s ability to adapt to a new manager and life without Hazard and the seemingly current toxic atmosphere at Spurs.

      That’s not good enough for a club like Arsenal. A manager should get a free year which Emery got from me last season, but there is very little promise this season in the way we started.

      And in football, the ultimate responsible person is the manager. Sure we lost a lot of points because of persistent personal errors by the likes of Xhaka, Sokratis and Luiz, but the manager picks the team and allows these guys on the pitch to make the personal errors.

      So Emery can not expect a free ride when it comes to being questioned.

  10. I will not criticize or make fun of the man’s poor English or failure to learn the language. I also have difficulty learning new languages. And English is not my first language.

    However, IMO the absence of near-fluent English (and in my book he is not a 6 out of 10 because his English is not on passing grade level)disqualifies him from being a manager of an English club.

    I would imagine that communication is roughly more than half the job. the other part being the ability to motivate players and the understanding of the (English) game.

    In other words, if you understand the game and you are a person/manager that can find players buttons to motivate them and you have the ability to communicate these aspects with them, you can succeed.

    However no matter how clever you are in your understanding of the game or how smart you are as a motivator or psychologist if you can’t communicate the intricacies of these aspects you won’t be able to maximize the potential of your squad.

    1. Hi Truth.

      Well made point of view.

      But wow “the absence of near-fluent English (and in my book he is not a 6 out of 10 because his English is not on passing grade level)disqualifies him from being a manager of an English club” is a very hard point to argue.

      Command of the English language if attempting to appoint the likes of Allegri would, I suspect, be very low down on the “tick box” list.

      In the modern game we all know the top clubs often end up with continental managers, who bring mixed ability with regards to speaking English.

      Or perhaps employ Steve Bruce !

      1. AJ thank you for your reply – Sadly we can’t put the English of foreign managers to a comparison test between you and me.

        But in my perception, as an example, Pep (also Spanish)speaks passing English. Of course Mourinho, Klopp, Pochetino also speak enough English as do most continental managers.

        For me, if Allegri doesn’t speak passable English, I would simply not consider him for the job.

        Can we expect Emery to learn English whilst performing the demanding job of managing Arsenal? For me, if you don’t speak English when you arrive at the club the chance you will learn it on the job is not big.

        If you arrive with passible English you will learn on the job and become near fluent over time. But if you arrive with a level of English that requires a translator, I doubt you will find the time to learn the language fast enough to become efficient in it.

  11. My wife, not a football fan but takes interest as I am a fan always liked Wenger. They why he thought and conducted himself. With unai she likes him and has noticed he is speaking a lot faster then last season.

    I know as much as this season he has released his translator and said he was a fan of peaky blinders. I think he needs to. Ring humour to his personality with his players. Wenger did silly things that players laughed at, but he was super intelligent and the players respected that. Unai is clearly a man with stats. He I think is the mode of manager this league needs. He has managed in leagues and done what most managers haven’t in their tender. Poch and Klopp have less honours then Unai. If he is to be a success, his squad need to feel what they lack in understanding, they translate themselves into wins on the pitch.

    Everyone will improve, it’s not the players we only should expect that from. Unai is the same age as the young dynamic well spoke of Poch.

  12. l dont think anyone would care what he speaks if we could only stop defending like sunday league no pro teams.

  13. No need to speak to pick a team, not a language issue; he us not right coach for Arsenal, more for borsmouth or Newcastle… Our football is passing, attacking: his is to defend! Out of here !

  14. Arsenal`s problems always seem to land on the managers shoulders and in many cases so they should but let`s `back track` a little and end up in the boardroom.
    Emery didn`t just answer an ad in the paper he was interviewed and accessed by experienced and mature directors who offered him the job. It must have been obvious at the time that a good command of English was a prime requisite for the job if the appointee was to be successful yet this factor was seemingly ignored.
    Emery, himself must take some blame, he knew , or should have known, that his inability to communicate in English would limit his ability to manage. Being as things don`t seem to have improved it would (regrettably)seem he should reassess his situation at Arsenal.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors