Tag Archives: Unai Emery

Unai Emery’s Red and White Army

There is not much to moan about down The Arsenal at the moment.

9 wins in a row, 2 points off top, the place is brimming with positivity. However, there is something that has done me head in since the arrival of Unai Emery.

The backing the manager has got since he joined has been tremendous. We are now singing about him once more and his army. But this is what is annoying it.

It is not “Unai Emery’s red army”.

It is “Unai Emery’s red and white army”.

It was “Georgie Graham and his red and white army”. It was “Arsene Wenger’s red and white army”. But at Fulham, it was “Unai Emery’s red army”.

Has it been that long since we sang about the manager that we have forgotten the words? Or does it just sum up society, that we are now lazy, looking for short cuts through life. That dropping off the “and white” is systematic of society.

Well let’s stop being lazy, lets get it right.

We became “Herbert Chapman’s red and white army” back in 1933 when he introduced white sleeves to the shirt. Despite kit manufactures meddling in away kits, it has remained that way for 85 years.

We might sing “red army” at times, but it will always be the managers “red and white army”.

Let’s start getting it right please.

It is “Unai Emery’s red and white army”.

Keenos

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Freddie Ljungberg – Heir Apparent?

As reported by the brilliant Jeorge Bird over on his Arsenal Youth blog Freddie Ljungberg has been coaching senior training sessions alongside Unai Emery in the international break.

Over the years, there has been plenty of moaning and bitching that Arsenal do not have enough former players still around the club as coaches. There was a time it felt like some fans wanted Arsene Wenger’s coaching staff to contain about 30 ex-players.

The rise of Freddie Ljungberg highlights just what an ex-player can achieve if they have the desire, motivation and ability to become a top coach.

Ljungberg rejoined Arsenal in an ambassadorial role in 2013. 3 years later it was confirmed that he would be joining Arsenal’s Academy coaching Arsenal’s Under-15s.

He was starting in a lowly position overseeing the U15s. He did not expect to walk straight in as a first team coach, or overseeing the U21s. He did not complain, he did not have an enflated ego, he just got on with things.

After the appointment of Andries Jonker as the new manager for VfL Wolfsburg in early 2017, it was announced that Ljungberg would be leaving The Arsenal to join him as his assistant.

After  the departure of coaches in May 2018 following the departure of Arsene it was announced that Ljungberg would return as the U23 coach. Overseeing the side in the Premier League 2 development league.

Under Ljungberg, the U23’s – actually made up of mainly U19’s – have been in impressive form. Currently on a 6 game unbeaten run. They sit 2nd in the league.

Ljungberg has worked his way up from the bottom and is potentially putting himself in prime position to succeed Unai Emery.

Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry are the 3 most high profile former players that many fans said should still be at the club. All 3 had the opportunity to do what Ljungberg did, but all chose a different path.

Upon retirement, Vieira took up an extremely well paid job as Manchester City’s Football Development Executive. It was basically a job with no real role. He was basically a glorified club ambassador for which he was paid handsomely for – much more than he would get as a junior coach at Arsenal.

In simple terms, Vieira still had a year left on his contract when he retired, and Man City honoured that last year by giving him the highly paid meaningless job. It was only a couple of years later he went down the coaching route.

Arsenal never really offered him work at the club. He was playing for Manchester City when he retired, and took up his new role with the club the day he called it quits. He stayed at City, rather than seek employment elsewhere, for the money.

Then we have Thierry Henry.

He was offered the U18 managers job, but only wanted to do it part time so that it did not interfere with his Sky punditry work.

You can not really be a part-time manager at youth level.

The U18’s tend to play at weekends. Was Henry really proposing that he would coach players during the week, and then on game-day would be sitting in the Sky studio watching Stoke v Burnley instead of being on the touchline?

It was never going to work.

Tony Adams was always an odd one. He has been offered numerous coaching roles at Arsenal but has always turned them down. My feeling is he looks down at the junior roles. He wants a senior role, with the first team, or nothing.

The problem is his coaching career to date has shown him to be an average coach at best. Is he really good enough to expect to just walk straight into a senior role? Why does he think coaching the U18’s (a job he turned down) was below him?

Vieira, Henry and Adams all had their own reasons not to be working at Arsenal. If they wanted to, they could have all been part of the coaching set up, but it was their decision to not take a job.

Arsenal should not bow down to their demands, whether it is financially, job roles of flexi-time, just because they are legends.

Ljungberg is doing things the right way. Taking small steps up the ladder. He certainly has a bright future ahead.

Keenos

Momentum continues to boost Arsenal

“What an arrogant team selection” I saw someone comment just before kick off on Sunday.

90 minutes later Arsenal had won 5-1.

No Mesut Ozil; Aaron Ramsey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis on the bench.

I can see why some were a little worried about a “weak” side prior to kick off, but it perhaps showed a lack of faith in the manager who has had a fabulous start to his Arsenal’s career.

I saw some people compare it to an Arsene Wenger-era line up. This baffled me. Wenger is gone. Support the new regime. The new team.

The reality of the starting XI was it only 3 or 4 players shy of its strongest line up (depending on if you think Ramsey is in the strongest XI).

Ozil was out with a back strain, and Aubameyang and Ramsey both also missed mid week (there has been a cold flying about). Sokratis has also been managing a slight knee injury that he picked up against Everton a couple of weeks ago.

So the XI that Emery put out was the strongest, fittest XI available.

The fact that the side brushed away an albeit poor Fulham side without key players shows the confidence flowing through the side right now. And it is not just the first team that is riding high.

Momentum is such a big thing in sport.

At the weekend Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix. It was his 4th win in a row. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel finished 6th, and has failed to make the top 2 in the last 4 races. It puts the British driver in a position where he could win the title at next race at Austin.

Hamilton has all the momentum, Vettel has none of it.

Arsenal are similar at this moment in time. We are not particularly playing much better than last season, but the momentum is with the side, leading us to 9 wins in a row.

Last season, conceding just before half-time to go in at 1-1, we would have capitulated in the second half. Just like we would not have hung on against Cardiff, Newcastle and Everton to take the victory. But winning breeds confidence, and the momentum that go’s with that is as important as any tactics and motivational pre-game speeches.

8 games into the season and we sit in 4th place; just 2 points off top.

Up next is a two week international break. Hopefully this does not break our momentum. When we return on October the 22nd, it will be Leicester at home, a good opportunity to make it 10 wins in a row. Sporting, Crystal Palace and Blackpool in the League Cup follow that before a home game against Liverpool.

That Liverpool game will really show where we are this season and what we can expect. Win, and we can start looking higher than top 4. Perhaps not fully in the title race as Manchester City look fantastic, but certainly in the race to be “best of the rest”.

Lose and the media will jump on top of us. Point out that our 3 games against the top sides have ended in defeat. Our target then realistically is 4th.

If we can go into that Liverpool game still on the coat tails of Manchester City, we will still be brimming in confidence.

What we are learning in recent weeks is that we need to trust the new manager. We need to trust his team selection. And we need to trust that he knows what he is doing.

Remove the negativity of years gone past and jump aboard the new Arsenal train. We are a club going places.

It feels good being an Arsenal fan again.

Keenos