Unai Emery succeeded Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager this week. Despite strong links between the north London club and several former players – including Mikel Arteta, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry – the Arsenal board selected the former Paris Saint-Germain man. Along with his announcement, Ivan Gazidis lifted the veil on the Arsenal manager selection process.
The Arsenal Manager Selection Process
Ivan Gazidis’ words via Arsenal.com,
“Welcome everybody. Today I’m really delighted and excited to announce the new head coach of Arsenal Football Club as Unai Emery. I know that came as a bit of a surprise and perhaps there were a few rewrites necessary! But as I said at the beginning of the process, those who know, won’t speak and those who speak, won’t know.
“I’d like to give a little bit of background on the process that led us to this point today. After the announcement of Arsene moving on, we formed a three-person committee, led by me and supported by Sven Mislintat, our head of recruitment, and Raul Sanlehi, our head of football operations.
“We had some clear criteria that we were looking for in our selection, the first was progressive, entertaining football, a personality that fits with Arsenal’s values and also a record of developing players, in particular young players through detailed, tactical instruction and also through cultural demands, pushing players and demanding more from them.
“Obviously all football clubs have an ongoing review process, but we looked through and analysed on the basis that every coach in the world would be interested in this position. We don’t believe there is a position in world football that is more attractive than Arsenal Football Club and having gone through that process and series of references, and a good deal of analysis, we created a long-list, an eight-person list.
“All of those eight people that we approached, that we targeted, were interested in the position and all of those eight people took part in extensive, in-persons interviews with us and none of them, at any stage, withdrew their interest – they were interested right until the moment we informed them of our decision.
“We were in a fortunate position in this process to make our first choice and that is what we did. Our first interview was conducted on April 25 and our last interview was conducted on May 15, and we interviewed Unai on May 10 as part of that process. We made our recommendation to the board on May 18, and that was a unanimous recommendation by the three of us, and the formal recommendation to the board was supported by a 100-page dossier with references, analysis, videos showing their coaching in action and a great degree of background information.
“We then met with the London members of our board on Monday of this week. Unai and I, and Raul, flew to Atlanta on Monday evening. We met in Atlanta with Stan and Josh Kroenke, we flew back on the red-eye last night, so we are the little bit worse for wear, but all of the board members were energised and enthusiastic about the recommendation and enthusiastically endorsed the recommendation.
“So why Unai Emery? I have followed Unai’s career very closely since his days at Valencia and he has always been on my radar screen. He has a fantastic record of success wherever he has gone and interestingly one of the noteworthy things about Unai’s teams in that they improve over time.
“We also felt, and I felt for some time, that he is a superb fit with the criteria that I laid out. But I think it is very important to move this beyond a paper exercise and that is why, having taken third-person references from some of the most respected people in the game and people that we trust, it was very important to move to personal meetings and it was in the personal meeting that Unai was incredibly impressive.
“He came in extraordinarily well-prepared, with a detailed knowledge of Arsenal Football Club. He had an analysis to share with us, not just of his ways of working and of his ways of coaching, and the team of people he works with, but he had an analysis of all of our individual players, their qualities and how he feels he can help them develop individually and collectively – in detail. Also an in-depth knowledge of our off-the-field team, and how they can contribute and how Unai’s team would mesh with them productively.
“But this was not a purely technical exercise, I think the thing that distinguishes Unai above all of that, above all the process and above all the things you can read about him, was the chemistry between us and the feeling for football in the room.
“Unai has an energy, a passion, a competitive energy and it is this combination of detail, of hard work, passion and a love for football and a will to win that made us feel that this fit was exactly right for Arsenal and exactly right for the people we have working at the club. It is for all of those reasons and following all of that extensive process that I am proud and delighted to introduce you today to Unai Emery.”
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