The honest reasons why Unai Emery failed at Arsenal

Unai Emery cannot manage. Whatever he can do, or whatever he knows about football or whatever his language skills – he failed because he cannot manage players.

The Ozil situation was an utter disaster – Whether you like Ozil or hate him, he is the team’s most talented and most accomplished player and, more importantly, Arsenal have no replacement for him. Ceballos, Willock. Torreira, Reiss-Nelson, Saka, Guendouzi, Xhaka… they all played the #10 and none of them did it half as well as Ozil.

Again, love him or hate him, he has a contract, he has said, publicly and repeatedly, both personally and through his agent, that he will not leave the club to take a pay cut. If you know that, you have two choices – buy him out or play him. You cannot have a player that is twice as good as all of your other options sitting in the stands, not even in the team, when you cannot hold possession because your #10 is a human turnover machine. The players know Ozil is better, the coaches know Ozil is better, even the people that hate him know he’s better. Which means you either live with that fact that he will stay to the end of his contract and play him, or you buy him out. If you do neither but try to bully a player with that kind of financial security and supreme confidence in his ability, you get what happened – instability in the locker room and a lack of belief in the manager.

Ozil also never once said a negative thing about his manager or the club. He was a pro. Emery, on the other hand, with other members of Arsenal’s front office management, made numerous classless comments. Whether you believe them to be true or not, they were still crass and ultimately, counterproductive.

The Xhaka situation was the next situation that Emery screwed up. The guy was named captain, and so quickly it caused whiplash, he was on his way out after a minor incident with fans. You know it was minor because Arteta brought him right back into the team and the fans embraced him after a couple of good performances.

Again, love Xhaka or hate him, if you think he’s a leader or a clueless jerk, the situation was completely mishandled. Arsene Wenger would have defused the situation, apologized for Xhaka, talked a bunch of B.S. about confidence and overwhelming emotions of committed players, and the situation would blow over with the next good game. Emery, instead, was heavy-handed and went full-metal Mourinho on Xhaka, who, whatever his faults are, is a committed, dedicated professional who shows real respect for the badge.

Guendouzi – a clear favourite of Emery, who could do no wrong no matter how badly he played. A young player with real potential, was shoe-horned into the line-up, creating massive imbalances, because Emery wanted Ozil out of the line-up. Guendouzi is a player who needed to have his opportunities managed, not shovelled down his throat. Now Arteta is having to clean up this mess and it could lead to the Gunners losing a player who, while still raw, could eventually be a massive asset.

Wilfried Zaha or Pepe… it is always so easy to say that Zaha would have been better which is simply not so. According to reports at the time, Palace was demanding a massive amount of money that, every time someone came close to paying it, they upped the figure. At first it was 40 million. Then 50. Then 80. Then 90. The truth is, Palace did not want to sell their only real star, especially to a Premier League team.

Personally, I am not a fan of Zaha, he’s soft mentally and physically. He’s a diver, he’s petulant when he’s not playing well, and lacks the mental toughness people scream that the team lacks. Also, he’s never scored more than 10 goals in a Premier League season. True, he racked up 10 assists that year, but that looks like 7-10 goals a year is about his level. Theo Walcott did that and got run out of town.

The point is, Emery was wrong. His inability to manage the players he had, many of whom are all massively talented cost him his job. He was given a fair chance, but in the end, he got 13 new players and despite that, created chaos and dissent among his players, and no improvement over the performances that got Arsene Wenger sacked.

Paul Desmarais


  1. ThirdManJW says:

    Disagree a lot with what is said, especially not being able to manage players. You don’t win 3 consecutive European trophies, on a small budget, without being able to manage players.

    I would agree that maybe he doesn’t do well with some of the big names at times, but dropping Ozil was the correct thing to do. The big mistake Emery made was bringing him back.

    Ultimately Emery made mistakes, but he also inherited an awful squad that had a lack of discipline, and no clue how to defend. Crazy amount of injuries in his first season as well. Not sure why Emery is getting so much grief, given he wasn’t here long, and the state of club when he joined us.

    1. Dan kit says:

      He’s getting grief because he keeps talking about Arsenal and the players .
      Nobody wanted to listen to him when he was here let alone listen to what he has to say now .

      1. ThirdManJW says:

        He’s just rightly defending himself. As we now know the club didn’t even want to buy the players Emery wanted, so he was always doomed to fail.

        Emery made mistakes for sure, but he walked into a mess of a club, and wasn’t properly supported.

        1. Mobella says:

          Thirdman, it is obvious Palace never wanted to sell Zaha, how would rate McGuire performance in manu shirt and compare to Luis and why the hell does he think we can get Party from Amadrid. He failed not because he didn’t get his preferred players. He failed be he is a confused coach. What did do with the rest of the players that are his preferred choice. He benched Ozil to show who the boss was and not because he has a better players to replace or had a formula that works without him that was he brought him back when everything was crumbling down not because he was put under pressure as someone is saying. Holistically, the guy is a bad fit for us while he was here and when he is not.

          1. ThirdManJW says:

            Mobella, I agree Emery made many mistakes, but the reality is that he overachieved in is one and only full season for us, despite huge adversity.

            I am defending Emery, not because I am a fan of him, I just think it’s unfair that everyone is blaming him, when there were so many other factors.

            Wenger left the club, and the squad in a shambolic state. Insane amount of injuries. Signings Emery didn’t even want. No stability due to the transitional phase the club was going through.

            Arteta is definitely doing better with the players for sure, but we’re still mid-table. As Emery proved, it’s not a good time to be at Arsenal.

  2. Roachie says:

    He was able to put together a long unbeaten run, even if we were lucky in many of the games. His biggest mistake was fielding a weak side against Palace on last seasons run in and that ultimately led to not qualifying for the Champions League. There were rumours he’d “lost” the dressing room and players were imitating his accent. NO doubt he will return to football managing and I wish him the best of luck.

  3. Ethiogooner says:

    In his interview with The Guardian, he had the audacity to say that his first season was great and people told him they saw he’s personality in that team….😅 he’s still in denial mode with the reality and I loath him for that. I’ll never forget and forgive how he set the team up to play Liverpool at Anfield in his second season with us. In all my days I’ve never felt embarrassed and infuriated (hell i’m still infuriated) to have witnessed that catastrophic game as a fan who passionately loves this great club. What a COWARD he is and now he’s found out and now he’s always desperately trying to save a face, but that’s what he’s story will forever be amongst us fans!

  4. Realjay says:

    Disagree with alot u said about ozil, yes he is the most accomplish player but not in anyway the most talent. Dropping ozil is the best thing emery has done.
    IMO ozil is just like a player less whenever he plays.

    1. Quantic Dream says:

      Rejoice the “talented” pest will be gone by the end of the season.

      1. Quantic Dream says:

        Darn it, end of NEXT season 🙄

  5. Junaidu isah says:

    Ozil is the most talented player in arsenal

  6. Top Gunner says:

    This is disrespectful to a lot of players at Arsenal, if you Ozil is most talented player at Arsenal. You could have said, he was the most talented. Currently he is one the under performing player at Arsenal. He is actually the worst player at Arsenal. Emery did a gòod job by freezing him first team.

    1. Admin Martin says:

      Top Gunner, Top comment

  7. jon fox says:

    I agree with much of the main thrust in this article but consider it unbalanced and it does not even try to seriously put the case for Emerys defence, which is a strong one IMO. I need not try to put it in this post as I am glad he has gone but it does exist , I recognise.
    ESSENTIALLY, I think his two main problems – APART FROM INHERITING AN UNBALANCED SQUAD WITHOUT A SINGLE OUTFIELD DEFENDER OF ANY WORTH – were the language difficulties, which opened him up to derision from inside and outside the club , both unfairly of course but it needs to be recognised all the same. Then his man management skills were lacking bigtime, esp when compared to legendary man managers like Wenger, Klopp, Shankly, Bobby Robson, Venables . Those are huge handicaps esp the latter one, for any would be top manager. It is a nuanced case, unlike this one sided article, as to his overall ability BUT I am glad he has gone and thought his sacking came too late.

  8. Chris says:

    I think you just disrespected Walcott there. How dear you compare Walcott an arsenal legend to that Ronaldo wanna be? Walcott has scored 100+ goals with countless assists. Zaha will not hit Walcott’s numbers even if he plays for the next 10 years.

  9. Jah son says:

    Wake me up when Emery gets another big club like Arsenal or PSG to manage. The man had the very same issue at both arsenal and PSG yet people make excuses for the sorry loser. Good Ebening

    1. wenger91 says:

      Totally right, EBENING =)

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