How Arsenal should prevent a repeat of their Unai Emery mistake
Unai Emery was sacked by Arsenal after several games without a win and one of the lowest attendance ever recorded as the club stumbled to a defeat in the Europa League. Inconsistent formations, insane lineups, and baffling substitutions - the writing was on the wall.
The failure of the Emery experiment is now complete. To be fair to the club's board, they did try their best. Taking into consideration that Arsenal was going to go another season without Champions League football, signing the best of the best was not feasible.
They still backed Emery and got him the players he wanted. The arrival of Kieran Tierney, David Luiz, Gabriel Martinelli, and Nicolas Pepe brought a newfound excitement at the Emirates going into the new season. The millions spent was no joke, but the performances have been lacklustre, to say the least.
Emery failed to fix the Mesut Ozil issue and the club's highest-paid player was constantly frozen out of the side. The German didn't fit the high-intensity pressing style the gaffer is known for, but surely he could have figured out a way to utilise the talents of this generational gem.
While that saga continued, he was unable to get the team together, and towards the end of his tenure, the atmosphere at the Emirates became toxic. Former club captain Granit Xhaka on being booed by his fans threw away the armband and cussed at the fans as the Spaniard helplessly looked on from the touchline.
Now Emery is gone, Arsenal's board has two options, either go out and hastily sign the best manager available, or be patient and plan for the long term. Taking Manchester United as a prime example, it shows that just blindly signing the best manager out there does not bring stability.
Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho are both legendary managers but found it extremely difficult to deliver what was expected. Although it may get results shortly, it's a ticking time bomb. The board has an opportunity to fix everything they did wrong while handling Arsene Wenger's departure.
Another season out of the top 4
It would be safe to say that Arsenal is going to endure another trophyless season. The prudent thing to do will be to write off this season and plan for the next decade, as getting the right backroom staff is vital for the club to see an upturn in form.
Currently sitting 8 points away from fourth-placed Chelsea, it's difficult to see them make it into top 4. The top two is almost certainly going to consist of Manchester City and Liverpool, while Chelsea seems to have found a new lease on life under Frank Lampard.
That leaves us with one spot, and Arsenal will probably have to compete with Manchester United, a high-flying Leicester City side, and a Mourinho led Tottenham Hotspur. It's not impossible, but improbable that Arsenal makes it to the top 4.
Hence, the appointment of Freddie Ljungberg as the interim manager for the rest of the season is probably the sensible thing to do. He knows the squad, he has been with these players, and being a club legend buys him more time if things go south. At the end of the season, they should go out and hire someone who fits their project for the club.
Once the season comes to an end, the club can hit the reset button and start afresh. A full preseason will give the incoming manager enough time to understand what works and what doesn't, as it better prepares everyone involved for the long and arduous season.
The probable replacements
There are a few top contenders for the job. Wolverhampton Wanderers' Nuno Espirito Santo, Manchester City's assistant coach Mikel Arteta, and Massimiliano Allegri would be the front runners. A surprise pick could be former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino who had done wonders with their cross-town rivals despite the financial limitations imposed on him.
Allegri, in my opinion, would be the best fit to take over. Pochettino would be a dream signing, but in terms of that rumour materialising, it's unlikely. The Italian brings solid pedigree with him, having won the Italian Scudetto on numerous occasions during his spells at Juventus and AC Milan.
He could be the one to shore up Arsenal's leaky defence and make the most of the attacking talents of this team. The Gunners would be a great counter-attacking side with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Pepe, and Martinelli zipping past opponents.
Rumours have claimed that he has been learning English since October, and that would counter another one of Emery's shortcomings.
It's a very important few months for the club as this decision would impact its fortunes in the next few years. This choice could be the one that sees the club finally return to its glory days or slip further away into the darkness.