With Spain’s change of fortunes under new manager Luis Enrique, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask if Enrique would have been the better option to transform a tired and disjointed Arsenal side, rather than Unai Emery.
Those that wanted Arsene Wenger out have had to deal with the reality of that decision.
So far, the performances have been patchy and already, at this early stage, Arsenal are off the pace. This stumbling start is entirely understandable because of the way Arsenal decided change direction and appoint a new manager without giving him sufficient time to get his ideas across.
The 68 consecutive seconds of ball possession and 19 passes from Spain that lead to Saul goal v Croatia.
Great building up, great Luis Enrique, but especially a superior players’ technique.
That’s how you build football: teaching to kids to play the balk, not to win games pic.twitter.com/qeSAx7hrO3
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) September 11, 2018
After handing Wenger a contract extension, it was decided that two more years of the Frenchman was two too many.
Luis Enrique was one of the names linked to the job but it became evident that Arsenal couldn’t or wouldn’t stump up the cash to secure his services. There were also rumours that he wanted a substantial war chest to rejuvenate the side of around £250m.
This claim was never substantiated but if it was remotely true, the Arsenal board probably choked on their Darjeeling at the suggestion of such a lavish spending spree.
Two matches into his tenure as Spanish National coach and Enrique has not only stabilized the squad but he has given it an injection of purpose and reconnected the talents within the team.
If Spain were an exquisite, high performance sports car, Enrique has managed to tinker with what was already available and make it appear even more desirable.
It’s giving him way too much credit to suggest that he has reinvented the wheel with the group of players already at his disposal. Yet, it’s been highly impressive in the way that he has managed to restore faith and get the side to play the stylish, creative football again. The type of football which they were associated with and which made them a force to be reckoned with just a few short years ago.
Could he have done the same at Arsenal?
It’s a fact that both Emery and Enrique, haven’t had the time to project their ideas across but it’s clear that Enrique has made his point quicker and put Spain back on track.
In fairness to Emery, the Spanish National side has an abundance of riches from around the world, playing at the highest level, so comparisons would be unfair from this point of view. We will never know how each coach undertakes their role but Enrique had the distinct advantage of being able to speak the same language as his players from the start.
Emery not only had to take over a club that needed major surgery and reconfiguration but he had only a smattering of English at his disposal. From this you can determine that Emery is obviously a man who likes a challenge of immense proportions.
Now let’s look at the finances. The prospect of Luis Enrique being given a blank cheque to address Arsenal’s many issues, had he got the job, was always a remote.
Emery was allegedly told from the outset, that funds would be made available to him over the next two transfer windows but that he had to incorporate academy players. Emery, also has the unenviable job of deciding who is surplus to requirements and his first season in charge is like a fishing expedition, noting who he can use, who he can develop and who he has to discard.
Unai Emery? I’m in! I think with his track record and obvious passion he could become a great success. Big job ahead. Massive shoes to fill. Let’s give him the platform of patience and understanding he will need. #goUnai
— Lee Dixon (@LeeDixon2) May 23, 2018
Luis Enrique would never have wanted to wait that long, his reputation is that of someone who gets results quickly and he tends to bask in the glory but who can blame him. Football is rapidly dividing into leagues within leagues, with the high achievers and the also rams and it may not be long before a super league develops across the globe.
With this type of structure looming, results have to be instant, which make the Guardiola’s, Klopp’s and Enrique’s of this world even more desirable, if not exactly affordable.
My own take on the Emery Unai or Luis Enrique question, Emery will do the job and make Arsenal a functional, more consistent team but I’m not sure if he can achieve the same level of success of as the first 10 years of Wenger’s reign.
Enrique probably would have delivered, had his terms been met but would that have been prudent for a club which was already six or more seasons behind the curve?
It’s not really worth contemplating in some ways, because the Arsenal hierarchy appear to have established an inflexible approach towards the modern game and resist the temptations to follow in Manchester City’s and Liverpool’s footsteps by investing substantially to claim the top prizes.