Emery unites fans with desperately meek decision

by .

He did it, he totally did it. Unai Emery finally bit down on the bullet he’s been hiding from for 3 months and made Granit Xhaka his captain.

What a joke. Arsenal fans, for once, unanimous in condemning the decision as calamitous.

What made the whole debacle even crazier is the charade around the decision.

Where are the 5 captains? Not that I believe in that method, but it’s indecisive to tell the world you’re delaying your 5, then you deliver a huge pivot.

Secondly, why leak to the press you’re running a vote? I’ll tell you why, he’s sharing the wrath of the fans with the players. He bottled making a decision on his own because he knew it’d go down like soiled nappy to the face, so he’s co-sharing the calamity. It’s as transparent as a Boris Johnson political strategy. Meeker than inviting your wife’s side piece  over for Christmas dinner.

Unai Emery is a poor leader. This decision will be the death of him. The moment is symbolic because it perfectly captures the essence of his tenure. Confused, indecisive and bland.

Granit Xhaka is a poor choice. This move has been made purely on the basis that he’s popular in the dressing room. That’s amateur hour selection criteria. Arsenal football club is not in a situation where we can be making decisions based on likability. Don’t give me ‘there are no leaders’ because if that’s the case, why was it not a top priority this summer? Did Raul and Edu sign this off?

A leader has be able to command respect with performances as an absolute basic. Xhaka is not a steady player. He is an error machine. He is a one-trick pony. He’s a delicate orchid that needs perfect conditions to perform. Even when the weather systems align with the soil PH, he is still always a moment away from letting off a mistake grenade under no pressure. He has so many limitations, he’s become a tactical opportunity more ripe for the picking than the short goal kicks.  Not even for good teams, I’m talking Watford. Just pressure him and wait for him to break. Sometimes you don’t even need to pressure him. His off the ball work is bad enough to gift you opportunities.

The clear learning from the weekend, when we were overrun by Aston Villa, was that our best midfield does not include him. The Premier League demands power, pace, and high levels of concentration from a midfielder. Xhaka has been a clear weakness for us and now he will be an automatic starter for the rest of the season.

Bigger picture, my problem is this.

The club is trying to build a high-performance culture. That is a Huss Fahmy thing from Team Sky. It is the creation of a perfectly timed Swiss watch. If there is a single cog, anywhere in the machine, that is even slightly off… it doesn’t keep time. At the centre of our high performance culture is a player that the fans boo at half time for good reason. This decision is not a serious one. It runs counter to the clubs longterm aspirations. It sets an incredibly bad tone to the rest of the club.

Defective cogs impact the whole machine. They pollute the culture. They make perfectly good parts of the machine underperform. I simply cannot believe the exec team at Arsenal does not see this.

I can’t blame the players. Who’d pick someone that’d give them a rough ride? They’ve picked comfort, which is exactly the mindset I thought we were moving away from.

If Holding, Hector, and Matteo weren’t ready, give it to someone inoffensive but elite, like Auba. I would even take Luiz over Xhaka, at least he has pedigree at the highest level. There is no excuse for this. It’s not a future-facing decision. It doesn’t help with leadership. It fucks us tactically. It sours the mood of fans who won’t accept it. It is a damaging blow to Emery’s already sagging credibility with the fans.

What a disappointing turn, but I repeat, not unexpected.

Listen to my podcast.

331 Responses to “Emery unites fans with desperately meek decision”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Receding Hairline

    Iwobi completes a pass and Silva gets the credit. Apparently he spent 30m on him knowing he can’t pass to a team mate.

    Some of you overdo this Emery is responsible for all the ills in the world thing

  2. PieAFC

    As posters have mentioned.

    Lingard will probably have a blunder against us. 17 yo greenwood probably put in the best performance he’ll have all season.

    Like rashford did when we went there and got turned over by the kids.

    We are pathetic at OT.

    Monday we should be going there and sending a statement. But we all know Mr pragmatic and overly boring Emery will think to much about United and well probably play cautiously without actually being any good at it…

  3. Dream10

    Thomas Partey with a class performance against Real Madrid so far. We probably missed our window to sign him. Should have binned off Torreira this past summer and upgraded when we had the opportunity.. He’s a really good player both on and off the ball.

  4. Ghost

    Iwobi has concentration lapses, cannot beat a player and is a passenger on the pitch.

    Doesn’t have decent off the ball movt defensively or offensively.

    Poor player.

    Wilshere is on West Hams bench, i laughed when they said he should have gone for the last world cup. Smoking killed him off.

  5. Gentlebris

    We didn’t even put up Iwobi for sale and yet Everton came for him but Iwobi is poor according to the super brains here.

    The guy is no Ronaldo but he’s playing well for a 22 year old. Allow him pls, he’s no longer Arsenal’s.

  6. Valentin

    Football.London is reporting about Aubameyang’s brother tweet about Xhaka being captain.
    Seems that at least one person in Aubameyang’s family is not a fan of Xhaka as Captain.

    How to stir things up. Would love to be a fly on the wall at Arsenal next club player and staff family gathering.

  7. Dissenter

    Iwobi was actually one the liveliest players on the pitch for Everton. They went back to their baseline when he was subbed off.

    TR7 still believes Poch is one the top-3 managers in the world so that else is new?

  8. jwl

    Xhaka is twatwaffle, Valentin.

    Everyone hates him except for our squad, apparently, I don’t know what to think it is all so confusing. How is it possible for 25 people to come together and decide Xhaka is answer?

    Arsenal are trolling their fans.

  9. China1

    Lol ghost I read your last comment as ‘he doesn’t have decent vowel movements’ hahah

    Iwobi is a decent player with some obvious shortcomings. He’s not arsenal first team level but he has a few good attributes

    Quick, good acceleration, positive attitude, great work rate, great stamina and he tries quite a lot of positive actions. But I don’t think he’s the smartest player, he’s prone to concentration lapses and his end product is quite hit and miss in terms of passing and shooting.

    Everton is probably his level and good luck to him there as he always seemed a nice lad

  10. Bojangles

    I guess now that Xhaka is the official captain of Arsenal we have to accept him being first name on the teamsheet each week, at least until we get a new manager.

    I can only hope, for our sake, he can raise his game to at least a level where it doesn’t seem better for us to be playing with ten men.

    Of course Xhaka is not the only problem we have in terms of players. The current back four give no confidence in being able to keep a clean sheet against any opposition. There seems to be hope that our players returning from injury will fix this problem. They will be better in terms of quality but without cover from the midfield the problems will remain maybe to a slightly lesser degree.

    Add Emery to the mix and the immediate future doesn’t fill me with great optimism, except in the cups perhaps.

  11. grooveydaddy

    After having the weekend to digest it, I still can’t get on board with the appointment.

    This is as bad as Winger giving the armband to a (then) legless Artefacts and refusing to buy a DM (again) that summer. Killed all the hope for that season.

    This feels the same….

  12. Moray

    Emery is now on very thin ice. Freddie would be a popular appointment, at least in the interim.

    This Utd game is a real marker. We have failed repeatedly against them in recent years, even as their team has become weaker. The Xhaka embarrassment aside, with Holding and Tierney back, we will become stronger going into the winter period.

    I’m a bit lost with what is happening with Torreira though. Is he being rested, marginalised?

  13. Moray

    “The current back four give no confidence in being able to keep a clean sheet against any opposition”

    Lack of leadership at the back
    Lack of proper discipline and cover from midfield
    Lack of proper defensive coaching
    Playing out of the back and therefore pressuring our back four unnecessarily

  14. Moray

    I can’t believe the man Utd game is on at 3am here on a Monday. Who the fuck decided the fixtures list? Perhaps it’s not deemed a big game any more and therefore not Sunday-worthy…?

  15. Tony

    “Giovanni van Bronckhorst ‘handed access-all-areas role at Manchester City’ as club begin preparations for life after Pep Guardiola

    Manchester City have offered Giovanni van Bronckhorst wide remit at the club

    He has been at the club for a month during year-long coaching sabbatical
    Club are preparing for Pep Guardiola leaving when his contract expires in 2021”

    Hmm no mention of the great Arteta, so it could be another ex Arsenal player to take over from Pep because GVB has won cups and the league in Holland.

    It will be very funny if GVB becomes manager in 2021 and Arteta is still the assistant.

    Can’t wait to read what Pedro’s spin will be on that if it happened.


    Good morning

    Leaders lead with or without the armband so not really bothered who is our captain elect.

    I echo Pedro’s thoughts wondering what Raul and Edu doing behind the scenes?

    If they have sanctioned Xhaka for captain that would be very worrying for so many reasons, on various levels.

    Perhaps they are allowing Emery all the rope he needs to hang himself.

    The absolute most damaging concern for Xhaka for captain is that he gets game time in the PL being automatically selected because of his captaincy.

    I don’t see Emery disrespecting the fans with his choice; I think he lost the plot for the remaining 8 games last season and is still looking for the plot now.

    Emery did allude to the fact that he will pick the first XI on merit, so I’ll wait to see the line up for three United game before commenting further.

  16. Bojangles

    At the Arsenal website, fans are asked to vote for player of the month. Maybe the could a new poll to select captain of the month.

  17. S Asoa

    It appears lot of people either do not have an HD feed or still looking at Iwobi through their “ Arsenanal interregnum “. Get real , Iwobi is no longer an Arsenal player, but highest priced player sold by Arsenal this year. He was defensively better than his substitute, moving up and down and thereby providing numbers all over. One could see Everton opened up after his substitution. That’s not to say he was not horribly wayward in his passing at Arsenal. Apparently Marcus has managed to coach that out from him. By and large his balls were quite close and he got into good positions throughout.

  18. Graham62


    Another Goodmorning although looking at the weather outside I don’t think I’ll be doing any gardening today.

    Your points are all valid and like yourself “I’ll wait to see the lineup before making further comment”

    My real concern though is the way that this has all been conducted. What a fiasco!

    Last weekend Xhake was roundly booed off the pitch by the fans when he was substituted. Emery knew this. Significantly, the players also knew this and yet he has still been elected as captain. I find that not only very strange but also very worrying.

    Knowing that your team is being run in such a way makes me wonder what the hell is going on behind the scenes.

    Tomorrows game has now become hugely significant in more ways than one. Get the selection right and I’m convinced we can win. If Emery reverts to type though I feel we will struggle, irrespective of the team MU put out.

    Oh yeh, one more thing. Granit Xhaka is not, and never will be, a leader.

  19. Tony

    Like I said Graham I feel Emery has lost the plot or maybe he just never knew the plot and survived on good will from the fans where he was found out last December onwards when he really started to lose fans each week.

    I expect more fiascos to come between now and January so am tempering my Emery expectations to around zero; consequently I was not surprised how Emery went about eliciting the players’ choice of captain.

    Monday will be telling one way or the other.

    If we don’t achieve CL for next season it will be on Emery first but also Raul & Edu will have to hold their hands up as well.

  20. Graham62

    Thomas Cooke = Arsenal FC

    We’ll continue to do what we want, even though, ultimately, the customers are going to suffer.

    The difference is the customers(fans) at Arsenal have grown accustomed to the mismanagement of the club, knowing all too well that it is financially stable and will continue to rake in the money, all at their expense.

    The first misplaced pass/poor tackle/ petulant moment by Xhaka will only add to his and Emery’s woes.

    You can script it .