You may or may not agree with the eventual outcome of this article, but I will try to present a balanced argument that concludes that Unai Emery never stood a chance at Arsenal from the day he took the diluted position of head coach at the Emirates.
Sabotage is perhaps a strong word for what transpired, but the Spanish coach knew early on that the appointment might end incredibly badly, caught in a cross-current of events, and between characters vying for their positions. From the outset, he was made a series of empty promises and soon learned that Emery had absolutely no power in respect of appointments or the decision making process at Arsenal.
After a fairly impressive start in his Arsenal career, which peaked with the 4-2 win against rivals Spurs, things began to unravel at lightening speed amid the chaos behind the scenes and in the dressing room. Emery had become seriously undermined at the boardroom level and fatally wounded in the dressing room. Ultimately, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
Yet, the beleaguered Emery showed patience and support to many players including Granit Xhaka after the Palace debacle, but Mesut Özil and the Spaniard were on collision course with several fundamental differences in their football philosophies and their relationship was broken early on and disintegrated even further after his substitution in the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku.
Yet the dye was cast months before with appointments not of his making and Raul Sanllehi’s determination to become ‘Mr. Arsenal’. Sven Mislintat bailed when he became wise to the endless broken promises including his appointment as technical director.
Sanllehi and Mislintat crossed swords over transfers and in particular, the head of football’s refusal to let the head of recruitment close the deals on the targets they had agreed. Other players arrived that they didn’t see eye-to-eye on and gradually their working relationship fell apart as the atmosphere between the pair became increasingly frosty.
Emery was caught in the middle of a diabolical mess with Arsenal’s structure poorly defined and featuring characters at odds with each other. He just couldn’t survive in his position with so much against him, especially with the team struggling to get performances and results.
This whole period would make a fabulous book and perhaps, one day, when the wounds are superficially healed, we may learn more about the dysfunctional period in the club’s history.
I’m told that Emery was devastated by his sacking and that this hard-working and decent individual contemplated never taking up a position in the dugout after his bitter North London experience.
Emery isn’t a terrible coach, he was just the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wenger’s departure left such a massive power vacuum at Arsenal, which resulted in an undignified free for all with Emery caught in the eye of a much larger storm.