Arsenal FC: New Gunners head coach Unai Emery says it is an honour to follow Arsene Wenger
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Spaniard has been chosen to replace legendary Frenchman at the helm of the Premier League club
Unai Emery paid tribute to the legacy left by Arsene Wenger as he set out his vision for the “big challenge” after taking over as head coach at Arsenal.
Emery, 46, left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season having won the domestic treble and will replace Wenger at the Emirates Stadium following the end of the Frenchman’s 22-year reign.
Spaniard Emery — who emerged as the shock favourite earlier this week after it had seemed former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta was in line to land the job — is set to fit into a new structure behind the scenes.
“We will create a new present and a new future for Arsenal. I want to say thank you Arsene Wenger for your legacy. For all the coaches in the world, he is a reference. We learned, I learned from him all the things in football,” Emery said at a press conference, choosing to speak in English rather than via a translator.
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“It’s a big challenge for me, but I have worked also in other projects, big projects. For me, I am proud to be here and to work after Arsene Wenger.”
Emery, who won three successive Europa League titles with Sevilla before moving to PSG in 2016, maintained he had his own plans about how to take Arsenal forward, the club having finished sixth in the Premier League last season.
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“Our objective is to be among the best teams in Europe, to win titles and to be in the elite of European teams. I also want the team to make the fans proud. I know they are already and I want them to be even more so,” he said.
On the future of midfielder Jack Wilshere, whose current contract is set to run out, Emery added: “I want today to speak about the team globally, not individually about the players today.
“This team is a big team, great players, we think we need to change little things.”
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis explained Emery was the stand-out candidate on an eight-man shortlist for the Arsenal job.
“We had some clear criteria we were looking for,” said Gazidis.
“We wanted progressive, entertaining football, personality to fit Arsenal values and a reputation for developing players and also, through cultural demands, demanding more from them.
“His teams improve over time. We also felt for some time that he is a superb fit with the criteria I laid out. He came in extraordinarily well-prepared with a detailed knowledge of Arsenal Football Club.
“He had an analysis to share with us, not just his ways of working, his ways of coaching, the team of people that he works with, but he had an analysis of all of our individual players - their qualities and how he believes he can help them develop individually and collectively - and also an in-depth analysis of our off-the-field team and how they can contribute.
“The thing that distinguished Unai was the chemistry between us. He has an energy, a competitive energy, and will to win that made us think this was a perfect fit for Arsenal.”
The club are yet to confirm if Emery will bring in any of his own backroom staff, although Juan Carlos Carcedo, Pablo Villanueva, Julen Masach and Victor Manas have all reportedly been lined up for roles.
When asked how big a rebuilding job it is for Emery, chief executive Gazidis said: “I think all of our players will respond to the new energy that Unai brings. I think they will have somebody under whom they can improve their individual game and our collective game.
“I don’t think anybody believes that sixth place is a place that a club of the stature of Arsenal should be. We need to look to improve that.”