Arsenal announced Unai Emery as the man to replace Arsene Wenger as manager of the club on Wednesday. The Spaniard is thus the first new manager Arsenal have welcomed in 22 years and steps in to fill the shoes of a man widely considered the greatest manager the London giants have ever had. While Wenger was an unknown quantity when he arrived at Arsenal in 1996, Emery has a proven track record.
Manager at the age of 32
As a player, Emery came through the ranks of Spanish club Real Sociedad but never really broke into the first team. He played most of his career second-tier clubs in Spain and retired when he sustained a knee injury in the 2004/05 season. But his club at the time, Lorca Deportiva, offered him the vacant manager and he thus got his first stint at the age of 32. The club reaped rewards, with Emery helping them secure promotion to the second tier in his very first season in charge. He then became manager of Almeria in 2007 and became the first ever to lead them to La Liga. In the next season – his first as a top-flight manager – Emery led them to an eighth-place finish and this prompted a move to Valencia.
Emery was manager of Valencia for four years between 2008 and 2012. In that time, despite the club’s financial difficulties, Emery led them to Champions League qualification and oversaw the progression of players like David Villa and David Silva. He then had a stint as manager of Russian club Spartak Moscow but he was sacked a little over seven months into the job.
Europa League hat-trick
Emery’s calibre as a top-level manager came to fore in his three-year stint with Sevilla. In that time, he led the club to two consecutive third place but more importantly, won a hat-trick of Europa League titles. Sevilla sold stars such as Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Ivan Rakitic, Kevin Gameiro and Carlos Bacca in this period but Emery kept reinventing the side. In 2016, he expressed a desire to leave the club and Sevilla announced his departure.
Paris St Germain
He then succeeded Laurent Blanc as the new manager of Paris St Germain who were fresh from winning an unprecedented quadruple of Ligue 1, French League Cup, French Super Cup and the Coupe de France. Emery continued on the trend of domestic hegemony for the club, although PSG did fail to win the league title in the 2016/17 season. But more importantly, PSG were not able to make a mark in the Champions League. It looked like things may be improving when PSG beat Barcelona 4-0 in the Round of 16 last season at home. But PSG went on to lose 6-1 in the second leg and get spectacularly knocked out of the competition. The club stuck on with Emery, though and this season he led them back to the Ligue 1 title. PSG put together the attacking trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe with the former being bought for a jaw-dropping 222 million Euros. PSG went on to win the Coupe de France and French League Cup this season but were yet again knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage.
Despite his failings in the Champions League, a look through social media would tell you that Arsenal fans are excited about their new manager. The 42-year-old has a domestic track record that would be the envy of many managers, leading two clubs to promotions and winning three consecutive Europa League titles.