The appointment of Jose Mourinho at Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur has at least put to bed the strong rumour — and hope as far as some fans were concerned — that the Special One, the former manager of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United, would be replacing Unai Emery.
Many Gunners fans, fed up to the back teeth of the stale brand of football often on show under the Spanish coach, were hoping that Mourinho would replace the current Arsenal chief. But when Spurs chairman Daniel Levy stunned the world of football and sacked Mauricio Pochettino, only then to appoint the Portuguese coach, it meant that one candidate being touted for the job had been snapped up.
Not that the board of directors — and Gunners owner Stan Kroenke — have shown any glimmer of doubt that Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger at the start of last season, is still the man to lead the club forward. But in football, as any fan or pundit will tell you, results are everything and when you glance down at the recent results chalked up by Emery’s charges it hardly fills you with confidence that he is indeed the right man for the task.
The current spell isn’t a crisis…yet. It’s not as if Arsenal are fighting for their Premier League lives at the wrong end of the table. Indeed, they are sitting in fifth position in the table but, crucially, are they are already eight points adrift of the top four — a position that would claim Champions League football, said to be a “must-do” from the Arsenal hierarchy at the start of the season.
But it’s the haphazard manner in which the team are performing; hapless at the back, misfiring up front. The balance seems off and the head coach does seem to be running out of time to fix things.
Not only that, following a run-in with skipper Granit Xhaka, there are strong rumours that Emery has “lost” the dressing room and no longer commands the respect of senior players at the club. Last time out in the top flight a lethargic Arsenal hardly mustered a decent chance on goal as they went down 2-0 to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. This Saturday, following the chance to regroup with the international break interrupting domestic football at the highest level, they host struggling Southampton in what has become a must-win game for the Gunners and their under-fire boss.
And if Arsenal fail to chalk up a victory — not even a draw would do, frankly — it may well be the case that one managerial change might soon follow another down North London way. And one thing is for sure, Jose Mourinho, now in place at the new White Hart Lane, won’t be coming to the rescue of the Gunners!