Arsenal, Clubs, English Premier League, Story

Former Arsenal players Patrick Vieira and Per Mertesacker speak about Mikel Arteta’s impact at the club.

Unai Emery has told the Guardian he felt “alone” at Arsenal as his spell in charge unravelled, citing problems with the language barrier and a lack of commitment in the dressing room.

Emery was sacked by Arsenal in November after embarking on the club’s worst run in 27 years. He was replaced by Mikel Arteta and the former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach has said he would be keen to work in England again.

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Arsenal were on a run of just one win in nine matches by the time Emery was dismissed and he said a difficulty expressing himself in English was a problem.

“I had a decent level, although I needed to improve,” Emery said.

“When results are bad it’s not the same. You lack the linguistic depth to explain. And take ‘good ebening’: OK, it’s ‘good evening’, but when I said ‘good ebening’ and won it was fun; when we were losing it was a disgrace.”

Arsenal reached the Europa League final in Emery’s first season but were thrashed 4-1 by Chelsea and despite a promising start to 2019-20 that brought just one defeat in the opening 11 matches in all competitions, Emery was sacked after results took a turn for the worse in October and November.

“The energy slips, things drift; everything does, everyone does,” he said. “Some support you but you feel the atmosphere, relationships [shift]. And that transmits to the pitch. Losing leads against Palace and Wolves reflected our emotional state: we weren’t right. It wasn’t working. I told the players: ‘I don’t see the team I want.’ That commitment and unity wasn’t there any more. That’s when I see I’m on my own. The club left me alone, and there was no solution.

“At every club, I’ve been protected: Lorca, Almeria, Valencia, PSG. At Sevilla I had Monchi. At PSG Nasser al-Khelaifi protected me in the dressing room and publicly. At Arsenal they weren’t able to, maybe because they came from [Arsene] Wenger, who did everything. They’d say: ‘We’re with you’ but in front of fans and the dressing room they couldn’t protect me. Truth is, I felt alone. And the results dictated I had to go.”

Unai Emery’s spell at Arsenal ended in November.

A central theme surrounding Emery’s time at Arsenal concerned Mesut Ozil‘s performances following the signing of a lucrative new contract. Sources have told ESPN that Ozil’s future at the club is uncertain with the 31-year-old, who earns around £350,000-a-week, entering the final stages of the deal he signed in January 2018.

Ozil’s contract expires next summer and his former manager said the forward should look at himself regarding his failings.

“He has to be self‑critical too, analyse his attitude and commitment,” Emery said. I tried with all my might to help Ozil. Throughout my career, talented players have reached their best level with me. I was always positive, wanting him to play, be involved.

“In preseason I told him I wanted to help recover the best Ozil. I wanted a high level of participation and commitment in the dressing room. I respected him and thought he could help. He could have been a captain but the dressing room didn’t want him to be. That’s not what I decided; that’s what the players decided. Captains are ones who have to keep defending the club, the coach, teammates.”

Despite these difficulties, though, Emery is keen to work in England again.

“The desire and energy is there,” he added. “I’m watching football, learning. And if there’s a good project in England, if someone wants me and is prepared to get behind me, I’m available… In England that identification with your team brings the game alive. It’s deeper there, like a church. I was born in San Sebastian and my team is Real Sociedad. That feeling is in my heart and that’s what you find in England. It’s marvellous, the loveliest thing there is.”

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