Emery axed as Arsenal boss after worst run in decades

Unai Emery has been sacked after 18 months in charge at Arsenal
Unai Emery has been sacked after 18 months in charge at Arsenal  

London (AFP) - Unai Emery was sacked as Arsenal manager on Friday after just 18 months in charge at the Emirates, with the Premier League giants mired in their worst run since 1992.

The 48-year-old Spaniard was fired following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday's Europa League match, which extended their winless run to seven games.

Assistant Freddie Ljungberg has taken over as interim manager with ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri and Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo among the early favourites to be named the next full-time boss.

"We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team," Arsenal said in a statement.

"The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required. We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach."

Former Arsenal player Ljungberg said he would work hard to improve the atmosphere at the club.

"However long I oversee @Arsenal for I will give everything I have to put smiles on faces again," he tweeted. "We have a busy few weeks ahead and the team needs your support. Let's get to work!"

Arsenal are on their worst run without a victory since 1992, when they had went eight games without a win under George Graham.

They are already eight points off the top four after going without a Premier League victory since October 6.

Emery was appointed as successor to Arsene Wenger in May 2018 after a trophy-laden career at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain with a brief to make Arsenal a Premier League force again.

The club, who have not won the Premier League since 2004, had stagnated in the final years of Wenger's 22-year reign despite a series of cup triumphs.

But Arsenal could only finish fifth last season, missing out on the riches of the Champions League for a third straight year.

- Big spenders -

Emery spent more than £130 million ($168 million) in the close-season, bringing in a clutch of players including winger Nicolas Pepe, centre-back David Luiz and left-back Kieran Tierney.

But despite the reinforcements they have collected just 18 points from 13 games so far this season and are the only team in the top half of the table with a negative goal difference.

"Last night (Thursday) I was at the Emirates and the atmosphere was toxic," former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson told the BBC.

"On Saturday they drew, but Saints should have won by a goal or two. I think there was an inevitability about this if you look at the stats and remember they are the third largest club in England with regards to the amount of trophies -- 30 major trophies."

Emery has had many off-field issues to contend with, losing Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer to Juventus at the end of last season.

He then saw former captain Laurent Koscielny refuse to travel on a pre-season tour to the United States as he pushed through a move away from north London.

Granit Xhaka was named as his successor but he was stripped of the captaincy after swearing at supporters who jeered him following his substitution in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace last month.

There was also upheaval behind the scenes as two of the men who made the decision to appoint Emery, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, departed within nine months.

And the attempted carjacking of Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac on the eve of the new season played a role in unsettling the squad.

Emery is the third Premier League manager to lose his job this season after the dismissals of Watford's Javi Gracia and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino.

The Arsenal Supporters' Trust issued a statement saying the club needed to change more than its manager.

"Emery's departure is the easy part," it said. "The more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor. We are far from certain that Arsenal has the right personnel to lead this process.

"The AST has long been advocating that the most important changes needed at Arsenal are in the boardroom, where Arsenal need better governance."


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