Emery leadership fiasco takes Brent-like turn

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Late one for the folks back in the UK today. Maybe it’s nearly beer o’clock? Well, have I got product news for you… I am working on a hard seltzer brand. It is fizzy water and alcohol (5%). 100 calories. It’s mental. I use booze to mostly medicate my life, now I’m medicating at 100 calories… give it a crack.

You know what else I need alcohol to medicate for? Unai Emery.

I know that people think I have it in for him, but it’s not true… I just find some of the things he does utterly perplexing.

Let’s talk about the captains armband.

Leadership is something you look for in all players. Everyone should hold themselves accountable, all must fight for the team, every last man must step forward when needed. Shared leadership is a mindset, it should be part of the culture, but let’s not kid ourselves it is a substitute for a real captaincy.

The idea of ‘captaincy’ is not dead. We can’t woke-wash away the basics of leading men. Leadership is real, it cannot be shared. You need a focal point for the team.

Topline, there are two ways that captains armband is dished out.

You either have someone that is an outrageous talent and they lead by example with goals, assists and match-winning performances (Cesc). This approach is usually a way of grounding an ego in ‘team.’

The second way – and generally more popular, is giving the armband to the standout leader in the squad. They might not be the most popular (Roy Keane), they might not be the most talented (G.Nev), but they are a bonified warrior that leads you into battle (Adams/Vieira), holds everyone to account, and does the dirty work on the shop floor (hairdryer/boot throwing/ rabble-rousing).

Last season, Unai Emery – fresh out of a new age business grad school – elected for a socialist approach to the captains’ armband, probably an idea born out of the Wenger handbook of management named ‘HAPPY EVERYONE.’

A year on, 4 of the 5 are now firmly off the roster. Aaron Ramsey was binned after a month when Unai realised he didn’t fancy him. Koscielny went on strike in the close season. Petr Cech moved to Chelsea as the Sporting Director before the Europa League final, Mesut Ozil took sick leave so many times it became an HR issue… Granit Xhaka, is still here, waiting in the wings.

So where are we right now? It’s September 26th 2019. We’ve played 6 Premier League games, 1 league cup match and we’ve had an away day in the Europa League… still no decision on the captaincy. Our default is Granit, who is being booed by the fans already.

Today, the press has leaked that Emery is holding a vote.

I cannot tell you how ridiculously juvenile this approach is. It’s Boy Scouts stuff. It’s someone that’s bad at people thinking this is a good way to bond the squad.

Here are some topline issues.

It tells the players the manager is insecure:

This is palming off responsibility. This is walking away from a decision. This is a man worried about what the squad thinks of him. It’s also an excuse if it goes wrong.

‘Don’t blame me, you voted!’

This sort of micro-beta-male action might not bite now, but the thought will linger. If I know my boss cares whether I liked them, I know they are weak, I know I can strike at them when they are down, I know I can cut at them when they are indecisive.

The manager is struggling to understand basic connections of the squad:

This one is a worry, but one that doesn’t surprise. Emery struggles to manage egos. He doesn’t seem to understand the causal effects of his behaviour in general. It should not shock that he cannot identify a strong leader, because he doesn’t seem to be one himself. If you outsource communication to your assistant, you are probably struggling to interpret the language of the club. My worry here is that if he can’t understand what’s going on at a basic level, like, who is the standout leader, how can he understand the lighter nuances that happen in the day to day that you need to be on top of to manage a group?

He believes it is better to be loved:

The basic premise seems to be that he thinks great leadership is tied to popularity.

I present to thee: Emmanuel Eboue.

Lad was absolute banter, did you see the tiger outfit? Squad LOVED him. Captain material?

Extreme case, no one would invite him to be a leader, but my point is this: You don’t always know what is right for you from a leadership perspective.

The ideal person to manage you is often not the sort of person you would ask to manage you. Are you going to invite a fox into your warm metaphorical chicken coop? No fucking way. That’s why Rob Holding thinks Granit Xhaka is a great leader. He’s a top lad, he’s a bit shit, and he probably doesn’t hold anyone accountable because he does not have the performance cache to do so.

Voting for your leader is for politics, not the army. Tony Adams once said, ‘It is better to be feared than loved’, wise words, no doubt, but seriously, if there is an end of the spectrum we need at Arsenal, it’s closer to ‘feared.’

Donald Trump once said he believes you only have so much energy in life, which is why he doesn’t bother with exercise.

I think there’s a reverse version of this in management. You have a credibility power bar that you can grow with great decisions. You can also drain it with bad ones. Phil Brown lectured his players on the pitch at halftime, that drained his tank, it was over. Jose Mourinho threw his physios under the bus in the media, which told the squad he had the back of no one. Unai Emery is chipping away at his with confusing tactics, odd management behaviours (player reviews) and meek decisions. There comes a point in a season where all the mico-fails culminate into something very bad. We likely won’t see that until the back end of the season, but when he surveys the wreckage, it’s moments like this that he’ll likely curse.


Some Wenger quotes doing the rounds about the United job, I read they are fake.

I did a SOLO podcast.

315 Responses to “Emery leadership fiasco takes Brent-like turn”

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  1. China1

    Liverpool’s choice of Captain is their own shit to worry about. If he’s the wrong choice that’s for their fans to be concerned with

    Meanwhile he is not only a better player than xhaka but he’s also been a regular part of a team that just won the CL, is top of the league and got a ridiculous number of points in the league last year – so he’s presumably not doing as badly as xhaka, and absolutely wank player however much you can’t admit that and who is roundly hated by most of the fan base for being one of the key factors for why we regularly suck

  2. Champagne Charlie


    Henderson was roundly hated for all of the above, mocked and booed by Liverpool fans. He’s stuck to his guns and was given the armband for reasons NOT related to his football ability as they have numerous players better suited in that respect.

    If you can’t see how that relates to Xhaka then have a seat. You’re getting bent out of shape because you consider the armband something, but are completely dismissive that others might not share that tacit belief.

  3. China1

    No that’s a moot point because he’s demonstrably a better player than xhaka is

    You’re comparing a player who has non footballing qualities but who ALSO is still good enough to get regular game timeon what is currently a top class team. In spite of not being one of their top few players, he is clearly a good player and his inclusion clearly is not dragging them down.

    Xhaka on the other hand makes us worse. Significantly so. He ALSO has zero leadership qualities on the pitch. His great attributes are fine collection and being popular supposedly.

    He’s trash on the pitch and pointless off it. If we need a debt collector pay someone off the street £15 an hour to do it properly and we’ll be just fine without him.

    Xhaka is not Henderson and arsenal are not Liverpool. But by all means continue to make comparisons to better players playing regularly in teams that actually go on and win stuff. It doesn’t help your cause

  4. raptora

    Milner is the captain in disguise but he’s gonna be 34 yo and not a guaranteed starter I guess. He is a leader and a role model, also English, and has worn the armband on many occasions when Jordan wasn’t available. The closest thing to him in that Liverpool team is Henderson. Pool fans would want their captain to be a UK representative more so that we do.

    When Wenger came the culture changed where we became a far more diversed nationality wise than most teams especially the ones in the north. Wenger lead the wave of foreign imported players in England. Chelsea and City have been like us for a while although Chelsea had Terry and Lampard, they have relied on foreigners for many years now.

    If Ramsey was around he would have been our captain for the next 5 years. Easy decision and most people would have agreed on it. He was going to be our first Brittish captain since Tony Adams almost 20 years ago.

    Henderson also has been at the Anfield for 8 years now. It’s quite a long time. And he is a proven fighter and has also proved that he doesn’t handicap his team even when playing against the very, very best teams in Europe. He is a valuable asset for that Pool team. And I have no idea why would you compare him to Xhaka.

  5. raptora

    Henderson is part of Pool’s starting 11, yes or no? Did they win UCL and had a phenomenal EPL season? Henderson is tough as nails and willing to put his head where Xhaka wouldn’t put his foot. How could you even compare him to that snail of a footballer?

    CC: “He’s stuck to his guns and was given the armband for reasons NOT related to his football ability as they have numerous players better suited in that respect.”

    Do tell me who is more suited to be Liverpool captain but Henderson other than Milner who has been a Pool player for 4 years less than Henderson, and due to his age is not a guaranteed starter? Who else? Imma wait a while…

  6. China1

    And yeah I do very much believe the armband is worth something but what I also find a very unsurprising coincidence is that when the player you like gets shown up for being an awful player on a weekly basis to such an extent that the arsenal fans boo him (and we all know arsenal fans don’t boo *individual*players unless they’re really really tired of their shit) and now he gets to keep the armband just because he’s popular – what a superiors that you’d think it doesn’t matter and it’s okay. If you were on here trashing him for being as bad as he is and still felt the armband wasn’t important I probably wouldn’t rise to it

    But it’s the least surprising that ever that you’d be here saying the armband doesn’t matter when xhaka gets to keep it

    It would be the same with Pierre if it was ozil just as it was with AKB allowing wenger’s relentless bs despite being wank for the best part of a decade. People can’t just call a spade a spade

  7. Micheal

    In my opinion, the most worrying aspect of the Captaincy debate is that Xhaka is virutally guaranteed a starting place in the line-up for the foreseeable future. In purely footballing terms, this is a shockingly bad decision.

    What does it say to Torriera, Willock, Guen and even Cellabos (while he’s here) who, in different ways, are better players?

  8. China1

    Michael it says to them that they too need to hack unai’s phone and steal his nudes to be assured the same preferencial treatment

    Has anyone noticed that xhaka looks like a skinny version of Superman actor Henry cavill?

    I can only guess emery actually thought it was him and believes he’s going to pull some super human trickery to help us on the pitch. If only…

  9. Gentlebris

    ‘and i honestly mean this when I say you’d be the brightest Postman in Ireland if you devote half of the attention you put in monitoring my posts or embarassing yourself on legrove into your work u little weirdo’


    Putting ‘brightest’ and Marko in the same corner is really contradicting.
    Are you just meeting Marko here?

  10. raptora

    Wright, Keown, Merson, Neville, Nicholas have all slammed Xhaka for being a liability and making schoolboy errors. Yet Emery basically names him the most respected player in this team.

    Mind you it’s the guy that indirectly flamed our attack for not scoring more than 2 vs Spuds. Mind you it’s the guy that said that “we got scared by Watford”. If this is the type of interviews he’s gonna give… Please…

  11. raptora

    As a matter of fact I have no problems to have not the best player in the team as a captain but one that is a consistently good performer. Nothing wrong with being a 7.5 player game in game out. Sagna was that type of player. Gilberto Silva also. Ray Parlour.

    Our newly named captain though has games where he is 8, then 4, then 6, then 5 then 7, then 7, then 4…

    Horrible choice and absolutely indefensible.

  12. Gentlebris

    So Henderson lost his team the match how many times?

    Henderson insulted Mane or Sallah in the public how many fucking times?!

    Xhaka single-handedly made sure we missed CL by following an opposition player into our box and brought him down the moment he entered our box, even when the said guy was heading no where.
    How many times did Henderson ruin his team like this?

    Dull brain farting loudly on the internet.

  13. Redtruth

    I’d give the Captaincy to Holding or Chambers
    Leno would be better than Xhaka as would Willock, Guendouzi, Laca, Auba, Bellerin, Torriera, Ceballos, Tierney, Pepe, etc

    The worst candidates for being Captain are Mustafi, Ozil and Xhaka…