Unai Emery wants to make Arsenal ‘the best team in the world’

Spaniard targets title after being unveiled as head coach in place of Arsène Wenger

Unai Emery, who has been appointed the new Arsenal manager: “This team is a big team, with big players, good players and we think we need to change little things – a few players.” Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

Unai Emery, who has been appointed the new Arsenal manager: “This team is a big team, with big players, good players and we think we need to change little things – a few players.” Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

 

Unai Emery declared his intention to turn Arsenal into “the best team in the Premier League and also the world” after being confirmed as the managerial successor to Arsène Wenger.

On a day of hyperbole, the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, suggested that the Arsenal job was the most coveted in football and he made it plain that in Emery the club believe they have the man to rekindle former glories.

Emery spoke in English at his unveiling at the Emirates Stadium, which was a surprise – it was decent enough – and he described the challenge in front of him as a “dream come true”.

The 46-year-old Spaniard’s title is that of head coach rather than manager, and he will concentrate his efforts on coaching and man-managing the first team, while Raul Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat, whom Gazidis has appointed to recruitment positions, will oversee transfers.

Emery has agreed to work within the new structure and he knows that the club will operate on a £50 million transfer budget next season. He suggested that he did not envisage wholesale changes to the playing squad, which finished in sixth place over this past Premier League campaign.

“This team is a big team, with big players, good players and we think we need to change little things – a few players,” Emery said.

“The target is to be a candidate and to challenge for the title. It is very important for the club, after two years outside the Champions League, to work this way, to be the best club, the best team in the Premier League and also in the world.

‘Battling’

“What would be success this season? Developing, but how do you develop? I think that’s about battling for every title. That’s something that’s in Arsenal’s history, it’s in my history as well, and I want that to continue. Our objective is to be among the best in Europe, so those are the two objectives. I also want the team to make the fans proud of the side.”

Arsenal’s new manager Unai Emery and the club’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, at the Emirates Stadium: “Unai has an energy. All of our players will respond to the new energy that Unai brings.” Photograph: Mark Mann-Bryans/PA Wire
Arsenal’s new manager Unai Emery and the club’s chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, at the Emirates Stadium: “Unai has an energy. All of our players will respond to the new energy that Unai brings.” Photograph: Mark Mann-Bryans/PA Wire

Emery was asked about his style. “My idea is to be protagonists – to play against all the teams with this personality. The history here is a team that love playing with possession of the ball. I like that personality. When you don’t have possession, I want a squad that are very, very intensive with the pressing. The two things are important for me to be protagonists – possession of the ball and pressing when you don’t have the ball.”

Gazidis spoke at length about the process that led to Emery’s appointment – the starting point of which, he said, was that “every coach in the world would be interested in this position. We believe there is not a position in world football that is more attractive than Arsenal football club.”

Gazidis, Sanllehi and Mislintat drew up an eight-man shortlist, which is known to have included Mikel Arteta and Max Allegri. “All of those eight people were interested in the position and all of those eight people took part in extensive, in-person interviews with us,” Gazidis said. “None of them at any stage withdrew their interest. They were interested right until the moment we informed them of our decision.”

All of the board members were energised and enthusiastic about the recommendation and enthusiastically endorsed it

The announcement that Wenger would step down at the end of the season was made on April 20th, and Gazidis said the interviews took place between April 25th and Tuesday of last week. The list was whittled down to three contenders and, at that point, Arteta – the Manchester City coach – was the favourite. Emery was interviewed on May 10th.

Careful consideration

But after careful consideration, Gazidis said that last Friday, the committee unanimously agreed to recommend the appointment of Emery to the board.

“The formal recommendation to the board was supported by a 100-page dossier with references, analysis, videos showing their coaching in action and a great degree of background information,” Gazidis said.

Emery met the London-based members of the club’s board on Monday before flying to Atlanta that night with Gazidis and Sanllehi to meet the majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, and his son Josh. They returned on the Tuesday night red-eye. “All of the board members were energised and enthusiastic about the recommendation and enthusiastically endorsed it,” Gazidis said.

Gazidis said that Emery had been hugely impressive in his May 10th interview, when he had “an analysis of our individual players, their qualities and how he feels he can help them develop individually and collectively in detail”.

Gazidis noted that Emery always improved his teams. “The distinguishing thing was the chemistry between us and the feeling for football in the room,” he added. “Unai has an energy. All of our players will respond to the new energy that Unai brings.”

– Guardian Service

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