Arsenal Eyeing Unai Emery’s Replacement; Allegri, Arteta Linked
Unai Emery appears to be on borrowed time as Arsenal’s head coach, amid reports the Gunners are putting together a list of potential replacements for the Spaniard, including former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri.
MailOnline’s Sami Mokbel reported on Sunday how there are divisions among the north London’s club hierarchy about Emery’s future. Technical director Edu and head of football Raul Sanllehi want to give Emery time, but others think the 48-year-old’s tenure has run its course following Saturday’s disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Southampton in the Premier League.
A fractured board is considering alternatives, with Mokbel naming Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta and former Tottenham Hotspur chief Mauricio Pochettino as the standout names alongside Allegri.
Pochettino makes the most interesting choice given his ties to the Gunners’ bitter north London rivals. The Argentinian is out of work after being relieved of his post and replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Mokbel described Pochettino as “well liked by key members of the Arsenal board,” despite the perceived difficulties in appointing him. Those difficulties stem from the 47-year-old once saying he “would never” take the job because of his attachment to Spurs, per Football.London’s Andy Ha.
While Pochettino enjoyed some success at Tottenham, guiding the Lilywhites to last season’s UEFA Champions League final and finishing above Arsenal for the last three campaigns, he couldn’t snap a trophy drought stretching back to 2008.
The lack of hardware would make Allegri a more attractive candidate considering the Italian’s impressive trophy haul with Juve and AC Milan. Allegri guided the Bianconeri to four-straight Serie A and Coppa Italia doubles before leaving in the summer.
He’s also the last manager to win the Italian top-flight crown with the Rossoneri, lifting the title back in 2011.
Allegri established a reputation for pragmatism with Juve, a style that may not fit at Arsenal. The Gunners had grown used to playing attractive and expansive football during 22 years on Arsene Wenger’s watch, and one of the criticisms of Emery, who replaced the Frenchman in 2018, is how quickly this style has regressed.
Even so, “Allegri has his admirers at the Emirates,” according to Mokbel, despite recent rumours he is primed to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli.
It leaves Arteta, “who was close to replacing Wenger at the helm before Emery was given the nod,” per the report. The former Everton midfielder played for five seasons under Wenger and won two FA Cups before joining Pep Guardiola’s City staff in 2016.
As both a player and a coach, Arteta has been around those who are faithful to attacking football. He would be a bold choice but one who would fit the desires of those who wish for the Gunners to get back to the philosophy Wenger imprinted on the club.
In the meantime, though, Emery is still in charge, and Mokbel noted how Arsenal are wary of the difficulties of appointing the right successor mid-season. It’s thought that assistants Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Bould, both title winners under Wenger, may be considered to steer the ship on an interim basis.
The idea Emery will be given more time to salvage things is backed by John Cross of the Daily Mirror and Miguel Delaney of the Independent. Both says Sanllehi is ready to wait, although Delaney identified the game against West Ham United on Monday, December 9 as a potential judgement day.
Keeping Emery around that long is going to be a tough sell to fans suffering through a damaging recent run. Arsenal have won just one of their last eight games in all competitions and have gone without a win in five in the league, damaging hopes for a top-four finish.
With a defence still leaking goals and an attack stunted despite a wealth of marquee names, including Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it would be a shock if Emery’s muddled tenure continues much longer.