Is Mr Emery getting Arsenal right, or is he leading us down the wrong path?

by Tony Attwood

Yesterday Walter in his article How to kill a player raised the issue of how the club is treating Ozil, which itself raises the question, how does the issue of Ozil fit with our long-running banner headline “supporting the club the manager and the team.”  It’s something I have been becoming increasingly uncomfortable with of late.

Then Blacksheep wrote the article

These articles were not co-ordinated, and I didn’t know either were being worked on, until they were passed over to me for publication.   Indeed Walter made it clear to me that if I felt that his article was not right for Untold given our banner headline about supporting the manager, he’d fully understand.

What neither Walter nor Blacksheep knew was that while they were writing their articles I was also writing a piece about the 10 plus years of the “supporting the manager” banner headline on Untold – a piece which I’ve held back until now given that Walter and Blacksheep’s articles have come in.

Clearly, since we all ended up writing articles on the same topic, at the same time, and given that all three of us were very much supporters of Wenger, there’s an issue we’re all aware of: is Emery really the right man for the job?   And of course the infinitely smaller issue, what to do about our “supporting the manager” slogan on Untold Arsenal.

Being an Ancient, as it were, I’ve had a long time supporting Arsenal and during earlier times I have most certainly not always supported the manager.   I was particualrly unhappy with Bertie Mee, who seemed to allow the club to collapse around him in the aftermath of the first glorious double.  As we sank into relegation battles through the mid-70s he told the world that Arsenal needed to contract in size to save money.   He wanted the youth teams and the academy cut to shreds, a first team squad of little more than 18 players, fewer backroom staff, all in the name of modernism, rationalisation and ultimately contraction.  And all combined with a military style discipline within the club totally out of step with the social change of the era.  It was an utter disaster and set the club back years, in my view.

So I was delighted when he finally went, but then I wasn’t overwhelmed by those who followed him – Terry Neil with his record run of defeats, Don Howe with his “defence first” approach, and so on.   Of course George Graham won trophies and of course I loved the cup double – making us the first team ever to win both the FA Cup and League Cup in the same season.   But at what a cost: played 42, scored 38, conceded 56, 10th in the league.    Scored 38 goals in 42 league games!!!   It was awful.

I suppose it is because I remember those managers who came before that I valued Mr Wenger so much.  Goal scoring went up by 26% in Wenger’s first season to 1.63 goals a game – a significant leap in just one season.   We actually reached 2.28 goals a game in 2005 – the highest since the 1930s when defences were far less disciplined and scoring six plus in a game was commonplace.

So I saw Mr Wenger as not only the man who gave us the three league titles, the unbeaten season, the record number of FA Cup wins and the Champions League final, and the man who brought in real innovation, but also the great entertainer.

Besides which buying the relatively unknown Henry, pairing him up with Pires, breathing new life into Bergkamp, buying Anelka, and when he demanded to leave, selling him at such a profit that it paid for the new youth academy facilities, and buying the unknown Vieira for £3.5m while he (Wenger) was still in Japan, expanding not restricting the youth system, picking brilliant youngsters out of thin air, taking on the PGMO when accused of accosting the referee, and defeating them hands down, it was all good stuff in my book.

And of course he not only delivered all the trophies, but he kept the club in the top four when paying for the stadium.  Which I know to many was of no consequence – top four is not a trophy after all.   But today it rather looks like it might have been – a trophy in the sense of it being a key to a pot of money which could be spent on players.

So yes, “supporting the manager” for me was very much the case of “supporting Mr Wenger” – not least because he was our manager for longer than anyone else.

But in the end, for me, the “Wenger Out” issue wasn’t about Mr Wenger, but about the way football had changed in recent years, for I believed and still believe the real issue was about our owner vs other owners.

And that is what I will try and look at in the next article – which I hope to publish later today.



20 Replies to “Is Mr Emery getting Arsenal right, or is he leading us down the wrong path?”

  1. Ozil is without doubt our best player and Emery
    Won’t play him, people got Wenger out but this man is worse
    We buy a reject from Barcelona who isn’t good enough to clean oozils boots.
    George Graham got rid of Charlie Nicholas without reason and now this so called manager is getting rid of another great player.
    Keep Ozil and get rid of Emery

  2. The thing is that I want Arsenal to win each match. And thus I want Emery to be succesful as a coach at Arsenal. Contrary to many of the WOB’s who wanted us to lose as much matches as possible to drive Wenger out. So I want Emery to do well. But when I see him pushing out Özil and Ramsey and not use them in times we really could use them is something that I cannot let go as a supporter or a writer on Untold.
    I remember last season I became highly frustrated that in almost each away match (on top of referee issues) we managed to shoot ourselves in the foot at most times. The individual errors of our defenders and goalkeeper mounted to idiotic levels at times. Leading to many heartbreaking losses.
    The WOB said that Wenger was holding us back. But now with a new manager I see no progress at all and see a team that shows nothing despite having two very good strikers. But it is the decisive pass that is missing. I was watching a clip of Özil his influence in the Leicester match this season. Unbelievable he hardly gets any chances anymore.

  3. i fully understand the frustration. my only hope this season is Arsenal to avoid defeat in the remaining match we had left in the PL.

  4. Bright , thoughtful article. As an ‘oldy’ I recall the pain of Mee/Howe defensive teams, and joy of Graham’s double: but relish the memories of Wenger’s Henry/Pires/Cole left hand shuffle for an early goal…. We owe Wenger more than we presently understand.

    Emery should have finished experimenting with players/ shapes by now….surely?

  5. I support Emery, for now. I desperately want him and the team to do well, he certainly has a pedigree to suggest that given some resources, he might. I also think any manager coming into his situation deserves a season at least.
    But that support is not unconditional. It seems he said a lot of things on arrival that have not come to fruition. Building a team around Ramsey? Smart management involving young players? Ok, Gwen and Holding , however Smith Rowe and others on loans which may be useful, but not helping us now.
    If somehow he has good reason for the Ozil conundrum, ie he really does phone in sick for unprovable ailments at the last minute, then I have sympathy for Emery, he needs to establish his authority or whatever the term, but if his treatment of Ozil is just down to some sort of Neymar PSG PTSD or he doesn’t have the imagine to use him, or he needs him out as he pines for Banega, that is a different matter. Ditto Ramsey, the don’t really know all, it may be the moneymen, or it may be Emery. Is also have this horrible worry he might do something really stupid with Lacca this summer to make his fund up to £100m rather than 45m, but no evidence for this belief.
    The patterns of play are negative and incomprehensible and a worry, is he trying,to set up some highly complex long term robust tactical plan that nobody understands? Whatever he is doing, he is wasting our strikers. This could lead to problems in team spirit, even dressing room revolts, we are not Chelsea, but emery is not in a place where he could easily survive that.
    But what I think is of no consequence, there is a groundswell of sympathy for ozil that might very soon manifest in the stadium, even the media heaven forbid. Emery will not be able to withstand large scale fan protests, so he needs to sort things.
    If Emery is being hindered from above to the complete detriment of the team and results, and it is a situation likely to last, he should walk this summer to save his rapidly tarnishing rep, then the fans will know who to blame.
    Is he clueless or out of his depth, then those above need to act.
    But IF there is a problem, as ever, I would look higher than Emery. We have a seemingly disengaged owner, that allows power vacumes. A good man might fill a power vacume, as might a not so good man.
    Raul runs things, questions are being asked. Ivan played a part in getting rid of our greatest manager, then played the part of a self interested coward. A bright young scout director departs. Ramsey. Yet our rivals, apart from maybe one go from strength to strength, as do some beneath us in the league.
    If there are problems upstairs, or a lack of focus , we need someone Arsenal through and through in the setup with a say in things, and a very decent and strong TD, as the club seem to be drifting, and Emery could be symptomatic of that, even though he is clearly damn good at job interviews.
    Of course it may all be understandable teething troubles, we shall see.

  6. I’m not an Arsenal fan, i’m a huge Özil fan and i have followed Arsenal since Mesut has arrived. I’m honest. But i was in awe when Arsenal prolonged Santi despite his repeated injuries and i’m in awe (no more the good side of the “awe”) when seeing the same club treating Mesut this way. He’s always been loyal to the club and giving his best and seeing Arsenal treating him like the last human being on earth… I’m not fooled by the supposed orders UE takes from above to get rid of Özil: UE has a long list of absolutely unacceptable words and attitudes against Özil. And as French, i keep in mind the treatment he had with Ben Arfa. He didn’t stay long in PSG and he has a History now of mistreating players. The club will survive, but what about the career of the player? Arsenal can’t push Mesut out without him being able to assure for himself a good future… simply by playing. Or would the club be embarrassed in case Mesut plays well?

  7. ‘But in the end, for me, the “Wenger Out” issue wasn’t about Mr Wenger, but about the way football had changed in recent years, for I believed and still believe the real issue was about our owner vs other owners.’

    Looking forward to the article Tony. I think more and more people are realising this.

    ‘Ivan played a part in getting rid of our greatest manager, then played the part of a self interested coward.’

    It certainly looks that way, Mandy.

    We definitely need something to lift the gloom.

  8. “ our owner vs others”on one level, God help us if that’s the case!
    Our owner admits he knows nothing about the game, he doesn’t invest, he is clearly more interested in at least one other sports team, he is in it as a long term investment, and appears at least a very distant owner. And he owns it all.
    None of the above has to be a bad thing, some owners who invest may do it for dubious reasons, some might want their investment back, then some, others might have an unstable source of income ie they could get arrested, sanctions or worse, then what happens?
    Stan isn’t really doing anything wrong. I do have concerns he may have borrowed the money to buy the club out against the club, perhaps not directly taking money out, but having to to keep to certain wage /turnover ratios, and other bottom line figures to get better interest rates on this and for all I know, other loans. This might not help a club in clear need of finance, but could save him millions, or more, but only speculation. We may know more after the summer .
    Where I believe Stan is weak, he allows a lot of power to his appointments at this club, even total power. Wenger had far more power than the average manager, he was a good and honest guy, in very simple terms. What if Stan,perhaps naively or inadvertently allowed the self serving, or even corrupt/corruptible in? Despite what we were told last summer about a consensus of execs, Raul, it seems pretty much runs things. Raul is fairly new, and no long standing association with the club. Tainted with Neymar issues. For all I know , he might do a great job, but he has a lot of power very quickly.
    We need a strong and decent TD, and I would also say a true Arsenal man upstairs, just to make sure things are done properly, would say Bob Wilson, but doubt he would be interested, but perhaps an intelligent, mid aged, non corruptable ex player or something . Whether Raul wants this may be another matter

  9. Nice piece and you sum up my feelings about our managers, too. I think supporting a club is about perspective. I started supporting Arsenal in 1977, so I never expected to see us win titles, or dominate, as we have. It has been a ride waaay beyond my expectations. For someone who became an Arsenal fan in the late 90s or 2000s, it must have been a more disappointing ride. So, it is very much about perspective. I loved Arsene, but believe Unai needs much more time, before he can be fairly judged. He’s been pruning deadwood and planting seeds, so far. Next season is when we will see his vision blossom.

  10. Tony

    Given the performances of late I can understand why the question of what the banner says regarding ‘supporting the manager’ has arisen, because of course questions do need to be asked.

    But asking questions, which I think is right, is different from withdrawing support, which I think is wrong, simply because it is far too early in Emery’s tenure to do that.

    As for the banner statement ‘…….supporting the manager…’, as I understood it, and please correct me if I’m wrong Tony, part of the reason for setting up untold Arsenal was, (apart from telling the ‘Untold’ stuff) to provide a haven for those of us who were sick to the back teeth of what we saw as the unwarranted and endless tirade of abuse aimed at our club and more significantly our manager. This went on to the end and continues to this very day, not only in the media but with Arsenal fans, some of whom are on here currently, still blaming Wenger for all our ills.

    I don’t know about yourself but I never saw that support for the Club or the manager as unconditional. Nor it seems did you as I believe, and again please correct me if I’m wrong Tony, that your support for the club and the direction it was going it diminished greatly after you realised that the Fair Play initiative was doomed to failure, and you now believe personal investment from the owners has become essential if we are to have any chance of challenging again for the title again, no matter who is in charge.

    But despite that, as yet the ‘supporting the club’ part has not been removed.

    At this particular moment in time maybe it should be that part that should go and not the ‘manager’ part?

  11. Nitram a fair point as always. I’m still arguing the points through with myself, and asking myself all sorts of questions, so no answers as yet.

  12. Tony

    Same here.

    I’m no manager or coach.

    Of course I can see if a players having a mare, likewise the team, but by and large am I up to evaluating why and what to do about it?

    I dont think so, otherwise I’d be a manager, hence I like to put my faith in the man who is, or at least should be able to.

    My one big question at the moment is, is Emery making decisions based on:

    a) Personalities

    b) Past incumbents

    c) Footballing/tactical reasons.

    If it’s ‘a’ then I would be worried because handling big ego’s/personalities is an essential skill of any manager in any elite sport. Big talant almost, though not always, brings a big ego.

    If it’s ‘b’ then that infers major insecurities.

    If it’s ‘c’ then fine. That infers he he has a vision and a style ofhis own that he wants to implement.

    Only time will tell.

  13. Is part of this apparent problem, a case of NIH (Not Invented Here)? Does any team ever look to see if incoming applicants are going to have specific problems with certain members on the existing team?

  14. Looks like Emery has come wounded from his battles with star names at PSG and has pre decided that he’ll show them their place at his new club, being Arsenal in this case. Ozil bearing the brunt of such prejudices.
    For so long we wished for Ronaldoesque finishing to the assists and passes laid on the platter from Ozil but we had Walcott, OG, Welbs at the end. Now that we have sharpshooters like Laca and Auba, the creator in chief is not playing. So have the best creator in world football and goal scorers as good as any, but a manager who won’t play them together.
    What is ironic is that Kolasinac and his ilk who are defenders but cannot defend at all, find a place in the team because they’re supposedly good going forward. While Ozil who’s primarily in the team to create goals and not defend , cannot make the team as he supposedly does not contribute in defensive duties.

  15. I see that there is a difference between points of view now and what was said in the years before AW left.

    In recent years the comments against AW were frequently rude and insulting, dismissive of the man who AW was and what he has done for us.

    No one needed to question as to whether he was the right man for the job. The issue was whether he should stay in the job.

    I see no one here insulting or debasing UE.

    They may, as I do, question as to whether he was the right man in the first place, or his tactics, whether on the pitch or off it, but always in a respectful and decent manner.

    Supporting the cub is a given.

    Losing faith in the manager is another.

    If he is able to turn the corner here, with or without Ozil, then we shall all be delighted.

    If not, then we can politely say goodbye and thanks for trying, but this is not for you or for us.

  16. @Tony, this sums up the article… “So yes, supporting the manager for me was very a case of supporting Mr Wenger”.
    So finally you concede that fact. The so called AAA had always said that about you and your team, but you always denied it. When Wenger eventually got sacked, the “aaas” wondered how long it would take before you guys turned on the new manager, 7months it seems. So stop feigning like it was a difficult issue, it was obvious all along.
    PS: Bayern Munich, juventus,ath Madrid and some other clubs have built stadiums after us, that hasn’t been an excuse for mediocrity. If Wenger gets this amount of praise for being manager during the stadium move, the coaches of those other clubs deserve 10times more. I remember especially Antonio Conte who in 2011/12, in his first big coaching role, took a juve team which had returned recently from series B, built and moved to a new stadium 2years prior, to an unbeaten season.

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