Unai Emery openly mocked by players, as language barrier proved catalyst in Arsenal demise

Date published: Friday 29th November 2019 1:12 - Matthew Briggs

Unai Emery TEAMtalk

Unai Emery was openly mocked by his own players last month as he gradually “lost control”, before his predictable sacking on Friday morning.

A damaging report from the Evening Standard describes in detail the Arsenal boss being the figure of fun as his 18-month reign came to an end.

The paper says Emery sat alone on the club’s private plane back from Portugal after the 1-1 draw against Vitoria Guimaraes earlier this month.

The report reads: “Jokes at his expense were made within the Spaniard’s earshot. ‘How many captains do we have?’ said one, in reference to Emery’s appointment of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the new figurehead of his five-man leadership group following Granit Xhaka’s demotion.”

Apparently the Spaniard’s accent and broken English were “openly mocked” with players often undertaking various Emery impressions around the London Colney training ground.

His press conferences were also often meaningless with his grasp of English questionable.



Communication was a “big problem”, claims the source and Bukayo Saka’s comments from September have supported that claim.

“It helps so much,” Saka replied when asked how useful it is to have Freddie Ljungberg’s input. “Sometimes when I don’t understand, when the coach is trying to communicate with me, I have a better communication with Freddie sometimes, he speaks better English.”

Asked a week later if he though communication was an issue, Emery replied: “I think no.”

But getting a clear, concise message across to his players was obviously a problem and the club recognised that be promoting Ljungberg from the Academy to Emery’s assistant in the summer.

The report also claims “training ground sources speak of meetings with Emery taking much longer than usual due to confusion over the message he is trying to convey”.



Emery dispensed with his translator for the start of this season, but his English teacher sat in on press conferences, and although he seemed more confident his media briefings he often left the press confused.

Tactically the former Paris Saint-Germain boss persisted with encouraging his defence to play out from the back, a tactic which played into the hands of their opponents, with Southampton the last to exploit their deficiencies last weekend.

He also changed formations frequently and used more players (35) and made more half-time substitutions (32) than any other Premier League manager.

Another huge factor in his dismissal were the contract situations of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette with the report claiming both “had made it clear that they would not be signing new contracts while Emery was still in charge”.

READ MORE: 7 top contenders to replace Emery at Arsenal


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