Give O’Leary the Arsenal job and other suggestions…

Date published: Friday 29th November 2019 2:31

David O'Leary Arsenal

Send your thoughts to, and your votes here.


Give it David O’Leary
Give it to David O’Leary, he’s at the club, goes home and away every week, and knows what is needed.

Let him have it until Jan 1st, and if he’s doing well let him have it for the rest of the season with no promises while Arsenal look for the right man.  If he gets top 4, by all means let him have it.

Never been O’Leary’s greatest fan, but it wont take a lot to get this team back on track, drop the right players, put the pegs in the right holes and get them running.

Ljungberg been with Emery every game, he’s part of the problem and his youngsters really, *really* aren’t up to it.  They don’t even match the Denilson, Clichy, Hoyte, Vela, Simpson period.
Thom, Newport


I’m in the Arteta camp
So, it comes as no real surprise that he has gone – not helped by short term nature of need for immediate results (as is the case in  the modern game) but more so due to his own downfall with apparent loss of the dressing room and no clear gameplan. While flexibility and pragmatism seemed to play to his strengths in his first season, the playing with brakes on, lack of real leadership (see captaincy debacle), and lack of connection with the fan base meant that this was only ever going to end one way. As we all know the Wenger years came to an end arguably a few seasons too late so at least the Board has reacted relatively decisively now. So what next?

Emery genuinely seemed like a good choice at the time and now the Board must act carefully to avoid short term choices to the detriment of any long term game plan (if there is one…). Having implemented a structure to dilute the manager/coach’s control there needs to be a philosophy re continuity and vision. We still have a strong youth set up and are have spent a lot of money on new additions. We now need belief and cohesion ensuring we get the most out of what looks like a half decent squad – but with heads down, lack of belief and leadership this will not get you far.

So now the clamour for ex-players with little managerial experience to come in and make the Emirates a fortress and happy place again. Of course they still have to fight the disquiet of the overbearing crowd, who in the main are negative and despairing. I cannot remember the last time we got fully behind the team and look on at Anfield jealously! We need to give the fans something to cheer about, the players a simple game plan playing to their strengths and create bonds on and off the pitch. Players who play as a team and have a telepathic understanding, not the disparate bunch we have at the  moment.

It will be interesting to see how long before a permanent replacement is found and whether they go for experience or take a gamble. Oddly I’m in the Arteta in camp at the moment, which wasn’t the case when we were looking to replace Wenger. Hopefully Freddie can help is own cause in the coming months but at this rate, with Champions league unlikely we are becoming less and less attractive a destination for players and managers of note so let’s concentrate on lowering near term expectations and getting behind the club and avoid making the same mistakes United have…
Nick, London


Thank you, Unai…
While I think we should have fired Emery after Baku, I have to thank him for taking on the thankless task of succeeding our most successful manager ever.

He took a job in a foreign league, attempted to learn the language, which is more than can be said for most of the people making sly digs at him for the fact he couldn’t speak perfect English, and actually bothered to work out a plan based on the way the opposition played over Wenger’s ‘let them worry about how we play’ approach.

But in truth, Emery was the polar opposite of what came before and he oversaw too jarring a change of pace for this to ever work.

However, like the other three managers I have known in Graham, Rioch and Wenger, the man from Hondarribia will always be welcome back at the Arsenal.

It may not have worked out but you conducted yourself with class and at least you managed to stay in the job long enough so we avoided appointing Jose bloody Mourinho – and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Well that was in the post, and well done to Raul etc for (belatedly) ripping off the band aid. I felt sorry for Emery at the end there, as another Mailboxer noted, he looked a broken man. I’m sure that talk will now be dominated by his replacements identity but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on his reign.

When he signed I wasn’t overly happy, the romantic in me wanted Arteta or Vieira. I came around to thinking that actually a experienced head for a few years who was removed from Wenger would actually be a world of good for the club. The aforementioned pair may have suffered from ‘Solskjaer Syndrome’, a starstruck reverence to a legendary former boss impairing their ability to manage. Wholesale change was needed.

So when he came in and embarked on that long unbeaten run, put out a reasonably solid looking team and shock horror, made halftime subs we looked onto a winner. His reactionary style was accepted as he looked for his best team/formation. We didn’t get thrashed by anyone for a while. This was initially an improvement.

The rest is history, he never stopped chopping and changing with personnel and style becoming increasingly strange and ineffective. Some positives though: several young players have moved into the first team after being given big chances/signed by Emery. Willock, Guendouzi, Martinelli, Tierney and Saka with Saliba to come. Don’t give up on Pepe either. The squad is in a good place and I think that Emery has left a legacy that a more charismatic, firebrand manager could build on very nicely indeed.

Thank god Spurs have already hired Mourinho then!
Dave, Brighton


Emery brought this on himself
I feel no atom of sympathy for Emery. He brought this on himself. They say experience is the best teacher but I feel Emery saw the parchment where this was written and just wiped his butt with it.

While at PSG he made loads of mistakes and he was sacked for it. To then be given a second chance at a big job and blow it…

…its all on him. No way he’s getting a big job anytime soon.
Nelson, Lagos, Nigeria


The answer my friend, is in the hair
I felt an immense sense of relief this morning upon learning that Unai Emery is leaving Arsenal.  I have no ill feeling towards him, having been quite hopeful when he joined in that first rush of post-Wenger euphoria.  But it has been clear for some months now (back to the latter half of last season) that he had not been able to get to grips with the Premier League, with what Arsenal stands for nor with the squad of players he inherited.

This season he has appeared almost terrified of putting our best players on the pitch at the same time.  The disconnect with the fanbase grew as he packed the team with defensive minded players and overlooked some of the most talented existing and new players.  It was rather like seeing Wenger play Ebou and Denilson week after week.

I am not expecting Freddie (we love you Freddie cos you’ve got red hair) to perform miracles but it is hard to see how he can do much worse.  Whatever happens, here is someone the fans will get behind, support and have a little more patience with perhaps.

I hope the interim solution goes well, I hope we manage to drag ourselves back up in to the top four and I hope we then go the beautifully coiffed and incredibly astute Mikel Arteta as our long-term solution (with Freddie alongside him of course).  No more shopping from the second tier in Europe please, no current or former Premier League managers and nobody whose best days are behind them.

Wenger and Gazidis going gave Arsenal the opportunity to sweep out all the cobwebs and start afresh.  Let’s continue this process and open a new chapter for my beloved football club.
Carolyn, (better late then never). South London Gooner


Freddie’s at the wheel!
Freddie’s at the wheel…  temporarily.  New manager search begins here.  Here’s my thoughts:

Freddie:  man of the moment.  Invincible.  used to have good hair.  Everyone likes him.  No managerial experience

Poch:  Good manager.  Tons of PL experience.  Ex Sp&rs boss – good thing.  Ex Sp&rs boss – bad thing.  Still has good hair

Rafa:  Doesn’t have good hair – fact.  Has enormous contract in China – fact.  Would wind up Mourinho if became Arsenal manager – FACT

Nuno:  Won’t leave Wolves.  Unfortunately

Brendan Rodgers:  good at shouting. Hopes it won’t f-ing slip this time

Stevie G:  Likes blue, now, didn’t used to.  Always liked red. Doesn’t like green.   Also hopes it won’t slip this time.

Vieira:  Big in the dressing room.  Not so big on the touchline.  Wanted in Miami.  We miss you Patrick

Henry:  We just love you Thierry.  You can manage us anytime. if not, please become the next Ireland manager

Big Fat Sam Allardici:  Maybe his time has come?  I sincerely hope not

‘Little’ Eddie Howe:  Is he the modern Steve Bruce?  Has done great things at Bournemouth apparently

Steve Bruce:  Has done great things at Hull.  And Wigan.  And Birmingham.  And Newcastle.  And Villa.  And Sheffield.  Apparently used to play once too.  Celebrity author.

Ancelotti:  Wins wherever he goes.  Beloved by Chelsea.  Not so much by Napoli.  Or North London.

Allegri:  Good with the Old Lady.  Probably not so good with the Old Arse.  Clearly won’t fancy it

Simeone:  How long would Arsenal’s comedy defenders survive mad b*****d Simeone?  I’d give them five minutes

Moyes:  The Chosen One.  Look how that turned out

Chris Wilder:  Proper Football Man’s choice.  Also Paul Merson’s choice, so that rules him out

Mourinho:  Well, it would be a surprise

Bielsa:  Cursed by SkySports

Phil Neville
Exiled Gooner (CV on it’s way to the Emirates)


Clean sheets
There has been some talk about Liverpool’s run of games without a clean sheet. This may suggest that they’re more attacking this season than last, therefore leaving more holes at the back, but when you look at the figures, last season they averaged 2.3 goals/ game. This season, it’s an identical figure of 2.3. At the back, they’re actually statistically worse than last season, with 0.6 goals per game last season and 0.9 goals per game this season!

So, what’s the reason they’re doing better this season? It’s the dispersal of the goals. They’re pretty much conceding one goal in every game, but only one. They’ve actually conceded one goal (only) in 11 of their 13 league games this season, but they’re also scoring more than two goals on average! Their most common result this season in the league is indeed 2-1, which they’ve had in 6 of their 13 games!

Liverpool still has the second-best defence in the league this season, with 11 goals conceded in 13 games. I guess it’s fairly obvious that clean sheets don’t matter, as long as you’re scoring more at the other end!
Morgan (stats sometimes mean very little) Dublin


Football Manager response, Celtic version though
Thought I would jump in on the Championship Manager discussion in the Mailbox, I have good memories of playing Championship Manager 4 and even having the PC guide book, with all the wonder kids, top players etc, the game was released back in 2003 so it was the best way to get access to all this information because Dial-Up was just dreadful, I was also only 10 years old so the internet was a very very new thing for me.

However the earliest memory and experience of a football manager sim game was actually Celtic Football Coach 2001/2002, it was certainly an interesting game to say the least, you could only manage Celtic of course but you had players such as (prepare for nostalgic memories) Jackie McNamara, Bobo Balde, Alan Thompson, Paul Lambert, Neil Lennon, Rab Douglas, Johan Mjallby and a very young Shaun Maloney, does anyone else in the Mailbox remember the game or did you play a different club based management game?
Mikey, CFC (I seem to remember an Arsenal edition)


A long one on training…
Something I have always found interesting is how coaches and managers translate a philosophy to their players.  It always seems strange the idea that they can have ‘blindspots’, where pundits and fans (and the dreaded arm chair pundit) know better but the manager just doesn’t want to change it.  Obviously in some cases this is stylistic and minor changes would affect the larger picture, but also it seems that players just don’t do what you would want them to, so maybe the manager can’t change it.

Reading the interview with Eddie Howe on the Guardian got me back to thinking about this.  On talking about his training techniques and the actual sessions he said “I’m very there, mentally and physically, with the players and always have been, and I’d like to think that won’t change in the short term at least.”  I think this is a fascinating insight and raises some interesting questions.  If you’ve seen the clip of Pep with Sterling, where he grabs him by the shoulders and spins his body, showing Sterling the exact open body shape he should have for when he receives the ball (which is then shown side by side with an identically scored goal by Sterling) it becomes so clear what both Howe and Pep are doing.  They are not just showing formations and attacking moves, but also implanting the exact physical reaction players should have to certain plays or triggers.  This provides at least a part explanation for the difficulty in getting this message across, it’s not just explaining and being understood, but creating the exact scenario and reaction, then training it into the player.  This is where training becomes more literal than just the day spent practicing, but repeatedly working these triggers into the mind and into the body.

When managers lose the will of their players to have this hammering home of minute detail then the player will lose the advantage they gain from performing exactly as planned.  So the body is not open to the correct area of the pitch, so the touch is slower or heavier and the player receiving the onward pass is ahead of where they should be.  My personal opinions of Mourinho aside (though this is probably speculative) but a manger that employs more of a system of foundations, with the attacking flair added on top of this rigid structure would not be as focused on this.  That’s not to say it is better or worse, just skinning cats in many ways.  This makes me think that coaches that seem to be able to improve defences beyond their supposed individual abilities are maybe a bit harshly treated, and maybe Mourinho actually is one of them here.  Sean Dyche as a centre back may be able to understand the defensive movements of an individual body better than other coaches, that when mixed with his structural nous in putting together a team doesn’t just create a machine better than the sum of its parts, but finesses and refines the individual cogs which could possibly be belied by the ‘agricultural’ image of a tough defence.

This strikes me as something that is far more important the higher up the pyramid you get in sport.  Minimal gains are the way you gain ground or create distance with your opponents and the ability to identify and exploit those are where an elite coach is found.  Eddie Jones said Pep invited him to a training session which left him feeling embarrassed about the level and quality of what he saw, making him rethink his entire ideas about training and exactly how elite his was.  When you have the buy in to your philosophy it must be a damn sight easier to convince elite athletes not only to listen to your incredibly specific instructions.  Maybe as soon as the big picture is distorted this belief wains and the desire to rotate your body 30 degrees over and over in training become tedious.  It would explain as well why different coaches ‘need time’ as this learned behaviour takes time to become memory, the dog didn’t salivate after the first bell.  But it raises an interesting question to me.  If players have to adapt their styles with age due to their bodies do managers?  Howe, Pep and other such managers must require a physical fitness to engage in training in this way, but if you look at say Hodgson or Ferguson (who famously stepped back from training as he grew older) they are unlikely to be able to perform physically like this.  I guess this is why assistants are so important as you grow older (both for football managers and the rest of us getting dressed at Roy’s age!)
DBM (Maybe we’ll see more with the increased filming and recording of training sessions) MCFC


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