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Why Emery found himself in Arsenal ‘hell’ as Gunners’ former head of football discusses manager changes

8:59 pm AEST 26/9/22
Unai Emery Arsenal
Unai Emery found himself stuck in coaching “hell” prior to his 2019 dismissal at Arsenal, admits the club’s former head of football Raul Sanllehi.
  • Spanish coach succeeded Wenger
  • Lasted just 18 months
  • Model changed with Arteta appointment

WHAT HAPPENED? The Spanish tactician was appointed as successor to the legendary Arsene Wenger at Emirates Stadium, but lasted just 18 months in north London before being relieved of his duties. He did guide the Gunners to a Europa League final, offering them a shot at Champions League qualification, but failed to deliver on his remit and was ultimately dismissed.

WHAT THEY SAID: Sanllehi has told The Athletic of where it all went wrong for Emery, who is now working back in Spain at Villarreal: "It was crucial for Arsenal to make the Champions League, we had a good coach in Unai, but losing the final to Chelsea made us stay in Europa League, which made the second year hell for Unai.

"It had been the one-boss model. All respect for Arsene — what he did for Arsenal is unique and probably at that moment in time the best way to do it — but you had to develop, and that is what happened."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Emery worked as first-team coach during his time with Arsenal, but that approach changed when Mikel Arteta was handed the reins as manager – with Sanllehi not convinced that more power should be given to those in the dugout. He added: They have betrayed the model a little bit now. By going back to the manager at the top, that is a mistake, but that is their mistake. I would have not allowed that to happen. But that’s fine, it is working so far for them."

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WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL? The Gunners have taken 18 points from their opening seven games in the 2022-23 campaign, with that return leaving them top of the Premier League table ahead of a derby date with arch-rivals Tottenham on Saturday.