San Francisco / November 23, 2019
Arsenal just drew 2-2 against Southampton, the 19th ranked side in the English Premier League. As a lifelong Arsenal supporter, the team's trajectory under Unai Emery is unacceptable. Emery must go.
Generally, I'm reluctant for teams to remove managers in the middle of the season. It is very disruptive. All of the planning and investment must be thrown away. The club must start over. It's also difficult to find top tier managers who are willing to take a new job in an imperfect environment in the middle of a season. Even if supporters are not happy with Emery, the appropriate question to ask is whether the club can install a new manager immediately who can do a better job.
The issue with Emery is larger than this match with Southampton. The club's performances do not inspire confidence. One test for managers is whether they can create systems that enable the team to outperform the talents of the individual players. During Arsene Wenger's glory days, he was very good at this. Wenger identified above average players from other clubs, recruited them to Arsenal, and created systems that helped individuals play to their strengths and thrive as a unit. The roster under Emery is clearly several steps behind the top teams in the Premier League. The problem is that the team is underperforming the talents of its individual players. The team is underperforming.
It takes time for new signings like Nicolas Pepe to adapt to the Premier League and make a contribution. The club also did not adequately replace Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey. Arsenal has not recovered from their departures.
During the final years of the Wenger era, it seemed that the top strategists in the club's administration were getting comfortable with finishing in the top 4. Arsenal generated significant revenues by qualifying for the Champions League. That was enough to satisfy Stan Kroenke. Core supporters of Arsenal are not satisfied by finishing in the top 4. The club should strive to win trophies. It important for the club to make adjustments so that we track upwards. Under Emery, the club is tracking down.
There was an opportunity to hire Jose Mourinho before Tottenham hired him a few days ago. I have very mixed feelings towards Mourinho. But he would probably do a better job than Emery. We should actively look for a capable interim manager and install that person as soon as possible.