Is Unai Emery’s lack of English a big problem at Arsenal?

Communication is important but is it a huge problem if the manager struggles with English?

I have read some comments on here about Unai Emery’s poor grasp of the English language but I am not so sure it is as big an issue as is being made out.

Tactics and strategy can be intricate and so good communication are essential but Emery has an assistant in Freddie Ljungberg that speaks English almost flawlessly. Surely part of the assistant manager’s job is to ensure that the players have understood what is expected of them?

Then there are the players themselves. How many of them understand English perfectly?

Let’s look at the last Arsenal game against Leicester City. There were just three British players that featured in the game and five if you include all the subs. That means there were 12 players whose mother tongue is not English.

You also have to remember that these players have been with Emery for up to 18 months, some less, of course, surely by now, they understand all the complexities that Emery is trying to get across.

There have been managers previously that could not speak the language properly, as an example Maurcio Pochetino at Tottenham. He used a translator when he was at Southampton and only got better at English when he took up the Spurs job. Even now it is hardly proficient.

Every league worldwide employs managers from foreign countries that do not speak a word of the language of that country.

Some will argue that after 18 months he should be speaking better English. That may be so but who knows what the issue is. He could have some sort of learning difficulty when it comes to languages, he could have a speech impediment, we simply do not know.

Finally, I have to say this, I personally have no problems understanding him, yes his English is broken but if he told me not to give the ball away I reckon that would sink in fairly easily.


  1. BBHOfficial says:

    When you’re not performing, especially in modern day football, every smallest flaw is an issue for discussion and is put under the microscope for scrutiny and criticism. Right?

  2. Sylva Olabanji says:

    You cannot underestimate the power of Communication. Emery poor English may not absolutely be the reason for Arsenal’s underwhelming performances. But it sure plays a very major role. Bukayo Saka once said he founds it difficult to understand his coach intentions. That is a boy born in England.

  3. happy jack says:

    I don’t thing it has anything to do with his limited English as most of the players speak more than one language. From what I read and see is a bunch of lazy players. Not to mention every time a player ticks the like button in regards to something negative about the club or the coach they all claim there internet account was hacked. The Board need to stand up and suspend players for 2 weeks for their action and the young players taking the Piss out of the coach suspend them for 4 weeks and remind the players who pay their wages.

  4. gotanidea says:

    Good observation

    Emery was used to have no problem in the wide areas, because he had excellent dribblers like Mbappe, Neymar and Di Maria. I think he can’t implement the same tactics to his current personnel and his old strategy is not suited to EPL

    The next head coach should be able to create a system for the current Gunners and I believe Ljungberg can fix our issues

  5. Ozgoonerguy says:

    Interesting parallel. As a project manager, you have to put a plan in place that you know your team can execute. When you depend on people doing things they suck at, or aren’t even able to do, you’re bound to fail.

    Same applies here. Emery must employ tactics geared to the capabilities of his squad.

  6. John Ibrahim says:

    in fifa20 communication is not a problem between players and manager

    but in reality it is

  7. Innit says:

    It’s a big problem for immigrants in general who don’t speak English. They need to learn English to communicate and function in society

    But for a manager of a football team, he needs to be able to communicate not just on literal level but on an emotional one too by trying to motivate players. This is hard when you don’t speak the language well enough

  8. SAGooner says:

    Judging by the teams that Emery has picked this season and the formations he has put on the field, I would venture that language is the least of this appalling manager’s problems.

  9. walex says:

    communication isn’t the problem the problem is Emery don’t have a formation and first eleven starters, why would you keep tinkering with your team and expect the the players to perform. let him get is first eleven players and stick to one formation then we would know where the problem is coming from

    1. Goonster says:

      But when he does that he is vilified for playing favourites.
      Come up with your favourite starting 11 you hope Emery should be playing game in game out. Trust me everyone will pick it apart talking about “Swap this player for that player, this one for that one and this one for that ones, then you have a good team.”
      Then someone else will look at that team and will tell you “just swap him for him, him for him and may be him for him etc then that will be a good team”.
      Then the next person will pick that team apart and so the cycle continues.

      And most will always want their personal favourite player(s) to be in each team no matter what.

      So it is a lose lose situation no matters.

      To me Emery is flawed the same with most of our players. Until the players step up their effort then we will keep changing managers till the pigs can fly.

      To me there is this nonchalant kind of attiat Arsenal from top to bottom. Everyone seems to be comfortable in their comfort bubbles.

  10. Goonster says:

    Lack of better English is not the problem. Suarez at Liverpool, couldn’t say Hello in English but that did not stop him from performing.
    Tevez, couldn’t speak English but that didn’t not stop him from performing.
    Santi could not speak English but that never stopped him from performing.

    POCHETTINO when he first arrived in England at Southampton. The guy could not say 2 English world consecutively. He needed a translator on hand every time he gave an interview. That did not stop him from doing very well at Southampton leading to spurs taking him. Did very well at Spurs too.

    In POCHETTINO’s case, it seems like the more his English gets better the worst he gets. When his English was nonexistent he was being talked about moving to Madrid. Lol

    English is besides the point here. Emery just seems to have run out of ideas. His English is understandable but he seems to be a poor limited coach / manager.

  11. Truth says:

    I don’t Emery would be a Klopp or Pep is he had their level of English, but anyone who does not think that a manager’s ability to communicate with his players’ matters, doesn’t understand what modern football is about IMO.

  12. Declan says:

    Funnily enough, Mourinho was just Bobby Robson’s translator when he started out and knew nothing about football, now look at him🤔.
    BTW, of course Pochettino was being linked with Madrid, he speaks Spanish 🤦‍♂️

    1. Goonster says:

      Emery speaks English. How come no one is linking him to madrid?

      1. jon fox says:

        You must have a very loose definition of what you regard as “English” then Goonster!

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