New manager has questions to answer and opportunities to seize as he leads Arsenal into the post-Wenger era
The “Merci Arsène” billboards were still up in the club shop on the day in May when Unai Emery suddenly appeared at the Emirates Stadium. Wearing his newly fitted Arsenal blazer and tie, the Spaniard was given a guided tour and a leather-bound book about the club’s history, and was ushered into an office hastily adorned with a brushed steel plate bearing his name. After one of the longest-running relationships in contemporary football, this summer has been all about how quickly, and how deeply, Emery could build up a whole new set of connections to replace those everyone knew a little too well.
For any new manager, finding the right balance between introducing your own methodology and absorbing the particular idiosyncrasies of a new club is key. To what extent do you lay down your own laws? How keenly do you want to listen and learn? How flexible are your lines of communication? Emery’s way of tackling this crucial period was to rely on what fuels him personally: work, work, work. From day one at the training ground he has shown little interest in anything outside of preparing his team with the maximum intensity he can summon.