So, he’s done. He’s gone. That he was ever at Arsenal in the first place will be the source of debate for months, if not years, to come, but Unai Emery has finally been shown the door.
When he first arrived, he dazzled. I was excited. Most of us were.
Without knowing much about him, I’d pondered Emery as a possible option and wondered why he wasn’t getting mentioned with any sort of seriousness (now I know). Then, out of the blue, he was here and with all his talk of pressing, passion, fans and attacking football, he said all the right things.
I allowed myself to be swayed. So, apparently, did the board.
Emery wasn’t even on the original shortlist but somehow managed to land the job anyway. The main thing I want to know is what was in his presentation? Was it crystal meth?
Things started well. Although we lost our first two games – against Manchester City and Liverpool – we looked much, much better than in the final days of Wenger. We were showing passion, desire, and, more importantly, something of a clue.
Turns out, that was nothing more than new manager bounce and a set of talented players trying to impress their new boss. As soon as they spent any time being coached by Emery, they started to lose whatever spark they had possessed.
The first season, we knew, was always going to be about transition but by the time Christmas rolled around, concerns were starting to set in.
His tactics, formations and negative approach were starting to show results, and not the kind we wanted.
With two avenues back into the Champions League in our own hands, Emery threw them both away with appalling decision-making and a cowardly brand of football that has no place at a club like Arsenal.
That probably should have been the end of Emery right there.
But he stayed, we threw tons of money at him and that just seemed to make it worse.
His treatment of Mesut Ozil always looked like it would cost him his job, especially when the performances on the pitch were more akin to Bolton, without their defensive abilities, than Barcelona. I said at the time that the German would outlast the Spaniard and here we are.
Looking back on Thursday night against Frankfurt, it seems almost cruel that the club let him take charge of the match. We all knew the stadium would be half empty and there was every likelihood of seeing what we’d witnessed all season – capitulation.
That he then had to face the media after the game and talk about how we had improved seemed like a twist of the knife too far.
I don’t hate Emery. I don’t even really dislike him. He’s too bland for that and that’s part of his problem.
He can’t connect with other humans.
It’s not just an English language problem either – although questions should be asked why the Arsenal selection committee thought it a good idea to hire a man who couldn’t speak the language – though he’s apparently just as confusing in Spanish.
So, the Emery era error is over, and Freddie Ljungberg will step into the hotseat for Sunday’s game against Norwich.
Will he get the job full-time? It seems unlikely and we must look, once again, to Manchester United and not be fooled into offering him the job permanently by an instant upturn in form alone.
Max Allegri is free and reportedly interested and taking English lessons too, something he’s been doing for a while. He’s who I wanted in the first place. He’s still my pick now.
The talk of Nuno Espirito Santo coming to Arsenal seems more like agent talk than anything else, but with Jorges Mendes close to Arsenal’s Raul Sanllehi, it would not be beyond the realms to see Nuno, who is basically Emery with a beard, given the job.
I still hold out hope that there are some at Arsenal, however, who will resist Mendes getting his feet under the table at the club any more than he already has but at this point, it’s really hard to see how any manager could do worse with the set of players Emery had at his disposal.
Then again, I think I said that when Wenger’s reign came to an end and look how wrong I was then!