Another “who season” begins at the Emirate by August, 2018, as it began in the Highbury in 1996, some 22 years ago.

Mikel Arteta looked so close as the favorite, but Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s Chief Executive, pulled the plug off that and then emerged Unai Emery. Emery was never was never in the picture from the onset. Aside Mikel Arteta, there were experienced names like Carlo Ancelotti, Massimiliano Allegri, Joachim Low, Brendan Rodgers, Leonardo Jardim, Thomas Tuchel and Luis Enrique.

Young firebrands like Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco and Patrick Vieira, also got significant mentions. Mikel Arteta is notably less experienced even with his touted input in the Premier League victory at Manchester City. In contrast, Arsenal is a big team; not meant for any experiments. That was the decision Gazidis took. And he could be right!

Just a bit unlike “Wenger Who”, “Emery Who” comes with some respect. Arsene Wenger was relatively unknown in Europe by 1996, though he managed Monaco with a retinue of stars like George Weah, Thierry Henry and a host of others. He was drafted into the Arsenal manager’s seat from Japan, coaching Nagoya Grampus.

Unai Emery’s credentials is worthy of recognition. Coming right from PSG in Paris, France, where he had won  the Ligue 1: 2017, Coupe de France: 2016–17 and 2017–18, Coupe de la Ligue: 2016–17 and 2017–18 and Trophée des Champions: 2016 and 2017.

In Europe, his pedigree is of significance. Although, he could not achieve the Champion’s League trophy demanded by his employers at PSG, yet, previously at Sevilla, while in Spain, he won the UEFA Europa League thrice and in succession: 2013–14, 2014–15 and 2015–16.

Emery has had a total of 719 official matches across all the clubs he had handled professionally, winning 385, drawing 155 and losing 179. A winning average of 53.5% is never too bad anyway.

Now at Arsenal, he will need to deliver results. The fans are yearning for trophies. He is also known to be adept at tactics; from 4-3-3 formation which also resembles a 4-1-2-2-1 to 4-2-3-1. His predecessor was a professor in tactics. Another issue will be the right kind of players; which he must sort out with his management staff.

Nonetheless, as we ponder “Emery Who”, let us first welcome him to the Emirate Stadium and wish him well on the task dumped right in his face.


Written by Olaniyi G. Akanji