Wow, talk about a harsh reality check. Unai Emery was handed an extremely difficult challenge on his Premier League debut. His managerial reign began with a visit from last season’s champions, Manchester City Keep in mind this is the team that won the title with 100 points, and is bankrolled by Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Mansour.
It was therefore not really shocking that Arsenal lost to City. The 0-2 score line was respectable enough and Emery had several positives to take away from his first league match. At least that’s how I saw it. Apparently, others in the football world thought otherwise based on some of the scathing criticism leveled at the new manager.
Here’s a sampling of some of the negative stories that made the rounds following the Gunners’ opening day loss:
Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams criticized Emery’s squad rotation during the team’s pre-season. He also questioned the manager’s team selection versus City.
Repeat managerial failure Sam Allardyce blamed Emery for Petr Cech’s poor performance in attempting to play out from the back.
These assessments seemed overly critical considering the circumstances:
- New manager
- First game
- Playing the best team that oil money can buy
- New players
- New system
Thank goodness a few voices of reason emerged out of this sea of negativity. Former Brighton & Hove Albion player Liam Rosenior defended Emery on Sky Sports’ The Debate.
Emery has come in at Arsenal, and they’re trying to get in the top four, he’s trying to play the same way. He’s won titles with Sevilla, he’s won three Europa Leagues in a row, and I find it a bit disrespectful to have a go at him trying to build something in the same way Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have in the past.
Rosenior makes a good point. In his first season as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s side finished 8th. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham career began with a fifth-place finish. Pep Guardiola’s 2016-2017 Manchester City side ended the campaign without a trophy and finished third. Expectations in the blue half of Manchester were so high that the club chairman labeled Guardiola’s first year in England a disappointment.
So my advice to Arsenal fans is to ignore the negativity, chill out and have some patience. Freaking out after one match is over the top. Emery deserves some time to establish himself.