The big story today, of course, is the Independent article in which it is strongly suggested that Unai Emery is rapidly losing the locker room. The article talks about how, among other things, he is “angrily unwavering” about the principles by which he runs the club, and how the Xhaka situation is one that calls for the exact opposite.
It also talks about the dynamics in said locker room right now, including the opening lines of the story:
It is a familiar sound around Arsenal’s London Colney base, often followed by stifled sniggering. Many of the club’s younger players now openly do impressions of Unai Emery, in a way that is a lot more cynical than those light-hearted “good ebening” internet memes.
As usual, what follows is in no way a defense of Unai Emery, but I read that paragraph and almost lost my damn mind.
In the wake of that Xhaka incident, a lot of parallels were made to a “normal” workplace environment, and there were a lot of comments along the lines of “if I went off on customers at my job, I’d be fired”. When I read that some of the players were mocking Unai Emery semi-openly, I had the exact same reaction.
If you’re going to make that workplace comparison, it absolutely goes both ways. I mean, sure, it’s fun to act like you’re in the third grade and call your teacher Mr. Poopypants or whatever, and laugh even harder when he, at the front of the room, says “what’s so funny?!?!”. But if you’re an adult, an even reasonably grownup person? That’s some dumbass junior-high failed-bully crap right there.
If you’re a paid professional? Acting like that is a fireable offense in a lot of jobs. I mean, going back to that original reaction that people had about Xhaka, “if I reacted like that at customers at my job, I’d be fired”, that absolutely applies for internal work relationships as well. If I were to come into my work every day and make fun of my boss, I would last about a week at my job before being shipped off to another department, and that’s only because I work in a fairly forgiving workplace. Most of us would be fired if we spent our days making fun of our bosses.
I get that Unai Emery is probably not the right choice for Arsenal at this point in their evolution, and the players might have every reason to be unhappy with how Emery runs things. But Emery is, in fact, running things, whether they like it or not, and it’s on the players to deal with it until it either gets better or changes. In short, some of them need to grow up and learn how to act like adults.
Just like managers, players make choices about how they act, and players need to be called out for their bad choices by the fans every bit as much as Emery does. What the players are doing, if true, is ridiculous and juvenile, and I have less sympathy for their “plight” now than I may have had a week ago after reading that.