Arsenal boss Unai Emery charms the fans as a new era dawns
- Credit: Archant
Lifelong Arsenal fan Phil Wall attended a special event at the Emirates on Wednesday night which featured Unai Emery and chief executive Ivan Gazidis. Read on for his inside verdict on the evening...
Arsenal billed this as a ‘new season’ event despite it being June.
This shows they’re focussed on looking forward rather than dwelling on the Wenger era.
Ivan Gazidis was powerless as long as Arsene remained. Now Gazidis is keen to show he’s in control, while emphasising teamwork, collective effort and ‘a new energy’.
Ivan didn’t waste time with lengthy introductions. He’d been received warmly, with most fans recognising his role in the positive changes we’ve seen, including ousting the declining Wenger.
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Applause for Ivan was eclipsed when, with the satisfied air of a magician who knows his trick will wow the audience, he welcomed new manager Unai Emery to the stage.
Emery took turns with Ivan to answer scripted questions for half an hour, and though his English is still developing, Emery came across as competent but also humble and willing to learn.
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In some ways not entirely unlike the previous manager when he arrived back in 1996.
These events usually feature a video retrospective of the season, but not this time. Instead we had a short film focused on all the changes and new personnel.
Sven Mislintat, Raul Sanllehi and Huss Fahmy were all present too, with the very recognisable Sven posing for selfies with fans for some considerable time afterwards.
When Emery departed, Ivan faced spontaneous questions from the floor. When he wants to, he can produce more waffle than a Belgian bakery, so the number of questions was limited.
The first one gave the CEO the chance to further emphasise what’s changed. Buying players is a ‘collective effort’ – though Ivan will never try and buy one the coach, adding there’s ‘a different way of moving forward.
He also said everyone at the club must stick together and move forward together, The club structure, he emphasised has changed, now run by a collective. Football, explained Ivan, is very different to 20 years ago, but the club values remain the same.
Emery, he said, also wants to learn about the club.
Like many, I’ve been critical of Ivan – and his unhelpful stance on supporter issues such as safe standing and home credits to encourage season ticket use still grates.
However, he appears to have assembled a team who can deliver results on the pitch.
In his words, his objective is ‘to deliver pride and to bring in world class people and support them’.
He might just succeed.
The mood was overwhelmingly positive and the message from the club was clear – a new era has dawned. Forward Arsenal!
Phil is a board member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Read the lifelong Arsenal fan’s blog angryofislington.com.