Just Don’t Do A Moyes...

‘Wenger Out’ may have be­come a pop­u­lar re­frain at Arse­nal to­wards the end of his reign but re­plac­ing the all-pow­er­ful Arsene won’t be easy. It may even take four men to fill his shoes

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

Arse­nal is re-in­vent­ing it­self, post-Arsene, and with an Aussie

The French-Cata­lan flat­ulist Joseph Pu­jol boasted im­pec­ca­ble bowel and sphinc­ter con­trol. Bet­ter known by his stage name Le Pe­tomane – a ne­ol­o­gism mean­ing ‘the fart­ing ma­niac’ – Pu­jol en­thralled late-19th cen­tury crowds across France with his abil­ity to break wind tune­fully. Not only could he fart La Mar­seil­laise, Pu­jol could also per­form vi­gnettes from Of­fen­bach to Verdi, from an ele­phant’s deep bass to the dom­i­neer­ing snarl of a French pres­i­dent. Pu­jol could even sit, like a yoga in­struc­tor, in a bowl of wa­ter and draw the liq­uid up in­side him­self, be­fore squirt­ing it out up to five yards across the stage. Many peo­ple be­lieved Le Pe­tomane’s prodi­gious gifts to be a ge­netic anom­aly, but they were the re­sult of metic­u­lous prac­tice and re­lent­less dis­ci­pline. Pu­jol ded­i­cated hours ev­ery day to re­fin­ing his act, one which fas­ci­nated packed Moulin Rouge au­di­ences and counted the fu­ture king Ed­ward VII among its celebrity ad­mir­ers. Unai Emery is no dif­fer­ent, in­testi­nal work­ings and royal ap­proval aside. The Spa­niard is both a foot­ball ob­ses­sive and avid reader, some­one whose suc­cess is as much a re­sult of his re­lent­less hard work and quest for self-im­prove­ment as any in­nate tac­ti­cal aware­ness. Sevilla’s coach­ing staff used to joke that Emery spent so long work­ing at the train­ing ground, he’d end up eating three meals a day there. Emery’s motto is sim­ple and ap­plies to both his play­ers and him­self: “Con tal­ento y sin ta­lante no lleg­amos, pero con ta­lante y sin tal­ento tam­poco.” With tal­ent but not the will, we won’t get any­where, but nei­ther will we with the will and no tal­ent. Any Arse­nal player hop­ing for an easy post-Arsene Wenger ride and hav­ing the au­ton­omy to please them­selves would do well to read on. And get ready for ques­tion­naires, train­ing ses­sions as in­tense as the North Lon­don derby and videos. Lots of videos. Unai Emery Etx­e­goien hated play­ing foot­ball. Born in Hon­dar­ribia, the pic­turesque port town on Spain’s north­ern Basque border with France, he soon re­alised that the fam­ily busi­ness may not be for him. His fa­ther and grand­fa­ther were both goal­keep­ers of dis­tinc­tion – the lat­ter, An­to­nio, con­ceded La Liga’s first ever goal in Fe­bru­ary 1929, a 3-2 de­feat for Real Union at Es­panyol. But young Unai in­creas­ingly al­lowed his wor­ries to con­sume him, and in­stead paid more at­ten­tion to Span­ish comics such as El Ja­bato (The Wild Boar) and the slap­stick Mort & Phil than foot­ball. “I was some­thing of a wimp,” he later ad­mit­ted. “When I didn’t get picked, I’d breathe a sigh of re­lief – I felt so un­der pres­sure.” Emery’s silky left foot brought five ap­pear­ances for Real So­ciedad in 1995-96, scor­ing in an 8-1 thrash­ing of Al­bacete. How­ever, he slowly drifted down Spain’s foot­ball pyra­mid, sucked onto “a ham­ster wheel which you can’t get off” with a se­ries of short-term deals at Rac­ing Fer­rol, Le­ganes and Lorca De­portiva in his early 30s. Un­able to shake off a per­sis­tent knee in­jury at Lorca, Emery be­gan tak­ing his coach­ing badges. Once told by Real boss John Toshack that “a good coach must be the op­po­site of what they were as a player”, Emery re­alised that to ‘reach’ a player, you had to un­der­stand them as peo­ple in a way that “none of my man­agers could over­come my deficiencies as a player”. Yes, he was tal­ented and read the game well, but no coach had ever lit the fire to get the best from Emery the player. But over Christ­mas 2004, Emery the man­ager got his first chance to shine. With Lorca mid-ta­ble in third-tier Se­gunda B, their di­rec­tor of foot­ball Pe­dro Rev­erte re­placed man­ager Quique Yague with the in­jured mid­fielder, so im­pressed was he with Emery’s tac­ti­cal brain from the stands. Yague thought his se­nior player had stabbed him in the back. The pair haven’t spo­ken since. “We had seven days’ hol­i­day over Christ­mas and I said good­bye to my team-mates like any other player,” Emery later re­called. “I came back and said, ‘Hi, I’m your new coach’. It was dif­fi­cult, but I got so in­volved in my role from the start that I didn’t think about it – I knew the play­ers so well that it all flowed fairly eas­ily.”

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