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Arsenal boss Emery sets out title ambition

After being unveiled as head coach at the Emirates Stadium, 46-year-old Spaniard says he wants the club to ‘challenge for the title’ and be ‘among the best in Europe’

24 May, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Former PSG boss Unai Emery was this week unveiled as Arsenal’s new manager. Photo: Вячеслав Евдокимов

UNAI Emery has arrived at Arsenal with a clear message: he wants the club to “challenge for the title” and to be “among the best in Europe”.

The Gunners unveiled the 46-year-old Spaniard as their new head coach yesterday (Wednesday) in front of a 100-strong crowd of journalists, cameramen at photographers at the Emirates Stadium. He succeeds Arsene Wenger, who left earlier this month after 22 years in charge.

Emery arrives in north London following a two-year spell at Paris Saint-Germain, who he led to a domestic treble last season. His CV also includes a stunning spell at Sevilla, where he won three successive Europa League titles.

Reflecting on what he would call a success in his first season, Emery simply said: “Developing.”

“But how do you develop?,” he added. “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. I also want the team to make the fans proud. They are already but I want them to be even more so.

“Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium [and] the way the club is run. I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history.”

He added: “I have met (club directors) Stan and Josh Kroenke and it’s clear they have great ambitions for the club and are committed to bringing future success. I’m excited about what we can do together and I look forward to giving everyone who loves Arsenal Football Club some special moments and memories.”

Former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta was believed to be the front-runner for the job, but Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said the club conducted a “rigorous” recruitment process, with Emery emerging as the unanimous choice.

Gazidis said: “Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly.

“His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward.”

COMMENT: New structure will let ‘head coach’ do what he does best

IN broken English, Unai Emery arrived in north London on Wednesday to explain why he’s the man to fix Arsenal. Neither the new head coach, nor chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who was sitting beside Emery during the press conference at the Emirates Stadium, would ever outright say that predecessor, Arsene Wenger, had, in the end, damaged Arsenal. But let’s be honest, the fact that Wenger had overstayed his welcome is one of the worst-kept secrets in football.

Gazidis talked of players responding to “the new energy” and, in Emery, having “somebody under whom they can improve their individual and collective game”. He also spoke of a rebuilding job, admitting that nobody connected to the Gunners “believes that sixth place is a place that a club the stature of Arsenal should be in”.

But perhaps the biggest revelation came while Wenger was still in charge. A change behind the scenes that had one important goal – to stop Arsenal being run by just one man. Gazidis said:

“This year, with the addition of Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment and Raul Sanllehi as head of football relations, we are working in a different way than we’ve worked in the past. It’s going to be a team effort to support Unai’s vision, supporting his energy and finding ways we can help him to be successful.”

Now, in “turning a page and opening a new chapter in the history book of Arsenal”, the club no longer has a manager. They have a head coach. And with the new position comes the suggestion that transfers will now be left to Gazidis, Mislintat and Sanllehi, while Emery will be left to simply work with the players that he is given.

That will give the 46-year-old Spaniard the time to do what he does best: develop players and devise strategies to thwart rival teams.

Like Wenger, Emery is a relentless workaholic. But whereas Wenger liked to leave his players to solve their own problems, Emery will coach and meticulously guide his troops.

Look past the column inches that tell you about the coach that didn’t have his contract renewed by Paris Saint-Germain, and see the tactician that won promotion to La Liga with Almeria. See the tactician that orchestrated a hat-trick of top-three finishes during his time at Valencia. See the tactician who won three successive Europa League titles with Sevilla.

There is already a story doing the rounds about a time that Emery gave one of his Valencia players a USB stick packed with information about a rival team, before quizzing him about the content.

When the player began to blag it, Emery revealed that the USB had been blank.

Whether such stories are true or not, it is fair to say that the Arsenal players are in for a shock. And, more importantly, so are the Arsenal fans.

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