Unai Emery couldn’t have been surprised. He must have turned up to Arsenal’s London Colney training ground knowing it would be his last day at the club.
Thursday night’s home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, hot on the heels of the insipid 2-2 home draw against Southampton, made the Spaniard’s position untenable. No amount of trademark press conference positivity could save him.
Indeed, Emery’s sacking was announced on Friday morning with Freddie Ljungberg taking charge of the Gunners on an interim basis.
Arsenal will now start their search for a new manager, with a number of names already mentioned. Carlo Ancelotti Mikel Arteta and Nuno Espirito Santo are all reported on their radar.
But what about Emery?
Not so long ago he was highly rated as one of Europe’s brightest managerial minds having led Sevilla to three Europa League titles, before moving to Paris Saint-Germain, but a disastrous stint at Arsenal has left his reputation in tatters.
So what will come next for the Spaniard?
A return to La Liga would surely be best for Emery. In England, the language barrier was a persistent issue for the 48-year-old.
Communication was also reported to be a problem for him at PSG. With this in mind, a return to Spanish football would give Emery a better chance of getting across his ideas and methods.
It might not be long until the Barcelona job is open, with Ernesto Valverde expected to leave the Camp Nou by the end of the season.
However, Emery won’t be high on the Catalans’ shortlist given his recent failures. If the 48-year-old is to return to La Liga he will have to take a job lower on the ladder.
Of course, Emery has strong links with Sevilla having been the Andalusian’s club for three years. His links with Monchi who returned to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in the summer could potentially open the door for a reunion, but such a prospect isn’t an immediate one.
Julen Lopetegui has done an exceptional job revitalising Sevilla this season, taking them to within one point of the top of La Liga.
Valencia might soon in the market for a manager, with the Mestalla outfit struggling in 10th place having already sacked Marcelino earlier in the campaign, but Emery would surely be wary of returning to a club renowned for its volatility.
Indeed, Valencia has become the most poisoned of poisoned chalices in recent times.
His success with Sevilla means Emery will still be an attractive proposition to a number of clubs, it’s just he will likely have to drop down a level to fight back up again.
The Spaniard has West Ham written all over him given the Hammers’ track record of hiring managers who have suffered the sack at bigger clubs (see David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini).
Emery was never the right fit for Arsenal, but for a second tier club he could still prove to be a shrewd appointment.
Having already coached in Spain, France, England and even Russia, the 48-year-old might fancy a crack at another country, another culture.
At somewhere like Porto or Roma, he would surely be on any shortlist should a managerial job come up.
Emery has shown before that he can be highly effective at a certain level, he just has to find the right club at the right level again.
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