What Unai Emery’s former players have said about Arsenal’s new boss
Arsenal fans are no doubt curious about Unai Emery, so we’ve looked back at what those who played under the Spaniard at PSG, Sevilla and Valencia had to say about the new Gunners boss.
Following Arsene Wenger’s decision to step down after 22 years in charge of the club, Emery was chosen as the man to replace the legendary manager ahead of former captain and Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta.
The 46-year-old won the Europa League for three-consecutive years with Sevilla as well as the Ligue 1 title and four cup victories at PSG, making him a popular figure among many – but not all – of his former players.
“Emery is a colossal pesado (pain in the arse). The players hate him.
“Training sessions are long and unbelievably boring. Team talks go on forever – he makes you watch videos for hours, with endless replays of corners and free kicks, even goal kicks. It’s so dull I’ve seen people fall asleep.
“He tells you the same things every week, like you’re a little kid, ramming home his point – like the one about an open hand only delivering a slap but a fist, with everyone tightly packed together, being capable of doing real damage.
“He goes on forever, you get bored stiff, you think it’s all bollocks … but it works. It’s so relentless that in the end every single player knows exactly what he wants.”
“He is a man who despises losing – whether it is football or a game of marbles. The desire is incredible.”
“We are more aggressive on the pitch, we try to score more goals. Last season with Blanc we scored a lot of goals, but we did not really try to score the second, the third every game.
“Now with Emery we want to score more goals and respect our opponent. I think we are better now.”
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“I think he is the key for us. He is our leader, a very important coach. We hope he will stay with us for next season, but it is difficult because he is one of the best coaches in the world…We will beg him to stay.”
“He is one of the greatest coaches in the world. I had the chance to play for him and it is true that he works a lot, so I’m happy for him.”
“Emery is a very tough coach, a competitor, he only thinks about his job and he likes to win, he works a lot and he has a great emotional side to it. I really like this gentleman.”
“Emery put on so many videos I ran out of popcorn! He’s obsessed with football – it’s practically an illness. He’s one of the best managers I’ve had. I worked with him for three years. I couldn’t handle a fourth!”
“Blanc had certain things going for him, but I think Emery is a little closer to the players. This is a coach who really communicates with everyone.
“He is asking us our opinion after the sessions, what we liked, what we didn’t like. He asks if you are not too tired after training.
“This is really important for the staff to know as they can then adapt [the training sessions]. They need to know if we can withstand the workload being asked of us.
“Communication is essential, not only in football but in all sports. This is what I find really good about Emery.”
After Emery was whistled by PSG supporters: “It’s not Unai Emery who lost, it’s PSG so it’s up to all of us to be whistled. We are the ones on the pitch.
“It’s not me who decides (Emery’s future), I’m not in charge, but it’s true that I get along very well with the coach – he’s a very good coach.”
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“He is a really good manager. He is a really hard worker. He loves to analyse every single team – it is one of best strengths.
“Arsenal will be a big challenge, but I think he is ready. When you see someone with that passion, not scared about working, plus his talent, it is a perfect combination to be successful.”
After Sevilla’s 2015 Europa League triumph: “We have a great coach and he is getting the very best out of us – we don’t relax whether we are on the pitch or on the bench. We have really healthy competition for places here.
“[Emery] supported me, pushed me and helped me develop. Winning this final and going straight into the Champions League – what more can you ask for?”
“Emery is a very demanding coach who never lets you relax. He is always trying to get the best out of you and that’s been reflected in my performances.
“There are qualities I’ve now added to my game, like defending more and helping the team. At previous clubs my role was more about scoring, but at Sevilla I also have defensive duties.
“Sometimes other teams can get on top of you, but by defending you can get better opportunities in attack, and Emery has showed us that.
“I’m more involved in the game now. I play further back, find space better and get more chances in front of goal.”
After signing a new deal at Sevilla: “The important thing is that I’m at Sevilla, that both the club and the fans, and especially Unai Emery, have loved me so much, and there is no doubt this was the best option for me.”
After PSG sealed the Ligue 1 title: “Emery has had a big hand in this title. He made us very careful and gave us a good philosophy. It’s always beautiful to be champions, it’s part of the story.”
“He does a very great job. When he arrived, it was a bit difficult for everyone because great players were gone. It is not easy for him to come into this context, but I think we have improved a lot.
“He is a great coach and we trust him. If you want to create something important, you have to keep at it.”