Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal on Friday just 18 months after joining the club from PSG to replace Arsene Wenger at the Emirates. In his first season, he guided the Gunners to the Europa League final where they lost to Chelsea, hence, missing out on Champions League football having also failed to make the top four in the league.
Coming into the 2019/20 season, the club’s board —notoriously frugal in making transfers during Wenger’s era— backed Emery in the summer transfer window by bringing in the likes of David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli and club-record signing Nicolas Pepe in order to improve the squad.
But since the start of the season, Emery has been performing well below expectations. The Spaniard had also lost the dressing room with his handling of the club captaincy saga and also his ambiguous formations, tactics, playing style and a total lack of direction.
The team was not renowned for its solid defensive structure during Wenger’s reign, but it got embarrassingly worse under Emery.
With Arsenal languishing in 8th position in the league and on a seven-match winless run in all competitions(their worst since 1992), the club’s hierarchy decided to pull the trigger on Emery after Thursday’s embarrassing home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2019/2020 Europa League and have subsequently replaced him with assistant manager, Freddie Ljungberg.
In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG gives you an insight on what the 42-year-old Ljungberg will bring to Arsenal as interim manager.
Ljungberg was part of Arsenal’s legendary “invincibles” during his playing days. He managed the U-23 team last season before being promoted to the first-team set-up this summer.
His man-management, which makes him approachable, will be happily welcomed by the players because it is in stark contrast to that of Emery, who regularly keeps to himself.
Being a club icon from his playing days will also command huge respect from the squad, and his demeanour will unite them together.
The team’s youngsters will be very much excited with Ljungberg’s appointment having worked under him at the U-23 level. The likes of Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, Xavier Amaechi, Eddie Nketiah, Tyreece John-Jules and Emile Smith Rowe thrived under him last season.
Unlike Emery, who is seemingly unsure of his exact formation(and thereby trying numerous formations), Ljungberg likes setting his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation where the midfielders effectively control the middle of the park while the wingers bomb down the flanks. This will also be a good opportunity for Mesut Ozil to regain his place in the team, having struggled to grasp with Emery’s style of play, while record signing Pepe, might finally make his breakthrough in the new system.
Ljungberg effectively makes his team press high up the pitch and retrieve the ball in the opposition half —the same style Emery tried to implement but failed woefully during his time at the helm.
Being a club legend, the fans will be eager to see Ljungberg restore the club’s pride, honour and reputation which was dented during Emery’s tenure with the Spaniard especially failing to handle the ugly incident between Granit Xhaka and the fans(having previously claimed that Xhaka might not play for the club again and will probably be sold in January, Emery couldn’t stand by his words and eventually used Xhaka in the Frankfurt game, which ultimately proved to be his own last match at the club).
Ljungberg now as an opportunity as interim manager to stake a claim for himself to be appointed on a permanent basis, although the club — in their statement announcing Emery’s departure and Ljungberg’s appointment — stated that they are searching for a new manager.
On another note, the following managers are the likely candidates in the race for the Arsenal’s permanent managerial position:-
- Mauricio Pochettino (former Tottenham Hotspurs manager),
- Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City FC manager),
- Maximiliano Allegri(former Juventus manager),
- Carlo Ancelloti(Napoli manager),
- Eddie Howe(Bournemouth FC manager),
- Nuno Espirito Santo(Wolverhampton Wanderers manager),
- Mikel Arteta(former Arsenal player and current Manchester City assistant manager)
- Patrick Vieira(Arsenal legend, former captain and current OGC Nice manager).
Written by Muftaudeen Abdullahi Ishola