The head coach of Arsenal Unai Emery has been sacked after a disastrous run of form led to the Spaniard’s position becoming untenable.
Emery’s dismissal had seemed a matter of time in recent days, with Arsenal eighth in the Premier League and unable to achieve any semblance of consistency in their performances. The decisive blow was a 2-1 Europa League defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night in front of a half-empty Emirates Stadium, which forced the club’s board to act after weeks of deliberation. Freddie Ljungberg, the first-team coach, will take over as interim head h.
Emery and his coaching staff arrived at the club’s training ground early on Friday morning – ostensibly to prepare for Sunday’s match at Norwich – and were met by the technical director, Edu, the head of football, Raul Sanllehi, and the managing director, Vinai Venkatesham. They were informed of their dismissal and Arsenal’s players, who reported for training at 10am, were subsequently told in a team meeting.
Sanllehi and Venkatesham had been in daily contact with Arsenal’s owner, Stan Kroenke, and his son, Josh, in recent weeks as the doubts about Emery’s tenure intensified. The final decision to part company was made by the US-based Kroenkes but it was taken after hearing that the situation on the ground could no longer continue.
In a statement Josh Kroenke said: “Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand. We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.
“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. We have full confidence in Freddie to take us forward. The search for a new head coach is under way and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”
The club will take its time over appointing a long-term successor to Emery. Edu, Sanllehi and Venkatesham will take control of the recruitment process with the ultimate decision again being made by the Kroenkes. Their former midfielder Mikel Arteta, who narrowly lost out to Emery in the race to success Arsène Wenger 18 months ago, is known to remain prominent in their thoughts while Massimiliano Allegri and Nuno Espírito Santo are among those under consideration.