Football

Thanks Arsene for your legacy: Emery

Emery pays tribute to predecessor after being named new Arsenal boss

Unai Emery paid a glowing tribute to the legacy of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as he held his first news conference hours after being named as the Frenchman's successor yesterday.

Speaking in stilted English after being introduced to awaiting media by club CEO Ivan Gazidis at the Emirates Stadium, the Spaniard also said he was proud to follow in Wenger's footsteps.

"It's a big challenge but I've worked also with other big projects, and for me, I am proud to be here and to work after Arsene Wenger," Reuters quoted him as saying.

"In my career, every year I grow up with new challenges, and for me the challenge is a dream come true."

Arsenal's first new manager since Wenger, who was also 46 at the time and was introduced to a quizzical media in 1996, Emery spoke highly of the man he has replaced.

"Thanks, Arsene Wenger, for your legacy, for all the coaches in all the world he is revered and I learn with him all the things in football," he said.

Emery, who won three consecutive Europa Leagues with Sevilla before spending two years at Paris Saint-Germain, winning a domestic Treble this season, was one of eight candidates who went through an extensive interview process, Gazidis said.

"He is a very good fit," said Gazidis.

"In the personal meetings, Unai was incredibly impressive - he had a detailed knowledge of the club and was very well prepared."

Emery, who has won eight trophies since 2013/14, opted against discussing individual players such as Jack Wilshere, who is out of contract.

However, he did offer some clue as to what kind of football Arsenal fans can expect as the club try to regain their place in England's elite after missing out on the top four for the second successive season.

"In my career I am very demanding of myself as well as the people at the club and the players," he said.

"The history here is one thing, they love to play with possession of the ball.

"I like this personality, and when we don't have the ball I want a squad to play with intensive pressure.

"Two important things are possession of the ball and pressing when you haven't got it."

Emery faces an important close season of squad tweaking but without the huge sums of money available at PSG.

He was not afraid to set lofty targets, though.

"I believe we can grow with the players we have. The objective is to work hard together and with these talented players to work," he said.

"It's very important for the club, after two years outside the Champions League, to work to be the best team in the Premier League and also in the world."

However, some former Gunners were underwhelmed by Emery's appointment.

ARSENAL CONNECTION

Former France defender William Gallas believes his former team should have gone for someone with a connection to the club, telling Sky Sports: "I'm a little bit surprised Unai Emery will be the manager.

"I expected to see the former legend players like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, and personally I didn't understand why they didn't speak to them and offer them that job because they did a lot for that club.

"I think in the next year we'll see what Arsenal are going to do because they will be under pressure.

"If Unai Emery goes to Arsenal he needs results and it won't be easy."

Ex-England striker Ian Wright, too, believes Emery needs to hit the ground running in north London.

He told the BBC: "Emery has had loads of money to spend at Paris Saint-Germain and now has to come to Arsenal with £50m, with a bunch of players who have been playing in second gear.

"His coaching ability will have to get going instantly and he will have to find some gems instantly."

According to players who have previously worked under the Spaniard, his coaching ability is not in doubt.

Brighton & Hove Albion captain Bruno Saltor, who worked under Emery at Almeria and Valencia said: "He is a really good manager. He is a really hard worker.

"He loves to analyse every single team - it is one of his best strengths."

He added that the 46-year-old's style of play "fits perfectly with the philosophy of Arsenal".

Former Spain winger Joaquin, meanwhile, said Emery's obsession with football is "practically an illness".

Describing his former Valencia boss, he said: "He's one of the best managers I've had.

"I worked with him for three years. I couldn't handle a fourth.

"Emery put on so many videos I ran out of popcorn!"

Emery's eight titles since 2013/14 is the joint-most of any manager in Europe's top five leagues, alongside Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and fellow former PSG boss Laurent Blanc.

Emery, however, has a poor record against Guardiola and Manchester United's Jose Mourinho , having never beaten either in 15 attempts.


FACT FILE

NAME: Unai Emery

AGE: 46

NATIONALITY: Spanish

TROPHIES WON: Europa League (3), French Ligue 1, French Cup (2), French League Cup (2)

CLUBS MANAGED: Lorca Deportiva, Almeria, Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain

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