Unai Emery’s relationship with Arsenal fans the last couple of months has been turbulent, stressful, and volatile. His tenure at the club started promisingly, with the Gunners running off a 22-match unbeaten streak last fall, but things went downhill relatively quickly through the holiday period, into the spring, and to start this season.
Given how ugly things had become in the last month, I would not have been surprised if he had lobbed a few veiled shots on his way out the door at Arsenal. But full credit to him, today, he penned a positive, classy farewell letter to the club, the players, and the supporters.
In his letter, he thanked everybody at the club, from the top brass down to volunteers. He thanked the supporters for helping him to “understand and feel the greatness of Arsenal” and for waiting in the cold and the rain to greet him after matches.
A letter of thanks to Arsenal from Unai Emery...— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 29, 2019
I was particularly impressed by his words for and about the players.
Regardless of how we all thought of him as a manager, and how public we made those feelings, it’s always good to see a person who was put in a role slightly too big for him bow out with a level of dignity and grace that, in all honesty, not very many of us (TSF included) showed him in the last few months.
It was nice to see him thanking the club and the people in it for the opportunity. For a man that had become the scapegoat for all of Arsenal’s problems, he didn’t slash and burn his way out the door, as many people probably would have. Even though the players reportedly mocked him (repeatedly) at training, he did not return the favor on his way out; he simply thanked them and walked away.
Even if the results on the pitch said otherwise, the man never stopped trying to fix the problems at hand. We can all disagree with him that his methods of repair were either sufficient or even making progress, but we can’t say he didn’t care. For many reasons, it just didn’t work out, and that’s going to happen more than often in the cyclical world of modern football, with its seeming 10 minute news cycles and endless pressure.
Best wishes in your future endeavors, Unai. In my mind, the class and positivity in your farewell message has earned you a round of applause should you ever find yourself back at the Emirates in the visiting technical area.