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?