Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 August 2018

Unai Emery relishing challenge of replacing Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

Emery won three successive Europa League titles at Sevilla.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis and new manager Unai Emery (left)
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis and new manager Unai Emery (left)

By Mark Mann-Bryans, Press Association Sport

Arsenal introduced Unai Emery as their new head coach on Wednesday with chief executive Ivan Gazidis insisting the job is the “most attractive” role in world football.

Emery was appointed to replace Arsene Wenger, who left the club at the end of the season following 22 years in charge, with the 46-year-old tasked with improving on a sixth-placed Premier League finish last season.

The former Paris St Germain boss paid homage to the “legacy” left by his predecessor as he spoke in English at his unveiling at the Emirates Stadium.

But, while the Spaniard declared his pride at his latest post, it was Gazidis’ words which were arguably more impressive as he claimed no-one interviewed for the job then went on to withdraw from the process.

“We believe there is not a position in world football that is more attractive than Arsenal Football Club,” Gazidis said.

“Having gone through that process and series of references, and a good deal of analysis, we created a long list, an eight-person list.

“All of those eight people that we approached, that we targeted, were interested in the position and all of those eight people took part in an extensive, in -person interviews with us and none of them at any stage withdrew their interest.”

Gazidis went on to claim the decision, initially made by himself and head of football relations Raul Sanllehi and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, was a unanimous one despite former captain Mikel Arteta appearing to be the front-runner as they closed in on their appointment.

Emery’s role certainly will not be as all-encompassing as Wenger’s position – with the appointments of both Sanllehi and Mislintat over the past 12 months proof of a change in approach from the club.

The former Valencia and Spartak Moscow boss has been handed the title of head coach, in a departure to Wenger’s standing.

It is yet to be announced if any of Emery’s backroom staff will be joining him at the Emirates Stadium but he made it clear from the off that he will be targeting success as he embarks on the task of replacing Wenger.

“Thank you, Arsene Wenger, for your legacy,” he said.

“For all the coaches over the world, he’s a reference and I learned from him all the things in football.

“It’s a great challenge. In my career, every year I’ve grown up with a new challenge. For me, the challenge is a dream come true.

“I believe in the players who are here, the objective is to work together, to work hard with this talent. The target is to be a candidate and to challenge for the title.

“It is very important for the club after two years outside the Champions League to work this way, to be the best club, the best team in the Premier League and also in the world.

“All the titles are important for us. I think we can, and we want to be candidates for them. I don’t promise today we will win, but I can promise you that we will work hard.”

Emery, who won three successive Europa League titles at Sevilla before leaving for Paris, will have also endeared himself to plenty of Arsenal supporters when he was asked about his preferred style of play.

“In my career, I have been very demanding on myself,” he added.

“I want people here who are demanding also, and players who are demanding also. My idea is to be protagonists.

“We play against all the teams with this personality. The history here is a team that love playing with possession of the ball. I like that personality, I like these protagonists with the ball.

“When you don’t have possession, I want a squad that are very, very intensive with the pressing. The two things are important for me to be protagonists: possession of the ball and pressing when you don’t have the ball.”

Press Association

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