Unai Emery is 'done at Arsenal', says Daily Mirror chief football writer John Cross
Pressure mounts on Emery after Gunners let lead slip at home to Wolves as winless Premier League run stretches to three games
Last Updated: 03/11/19 6:25pm
Unai Emery has reached a point where his position at Arsenal is untenable, the Daily Mirror's John Cross told Sunday Supplement.
Emery's Arsenal are on a run of 11 points from their last nine games, have been knocked out of the Carabao Cup and failed to win either of back-to-back home games with Crystal Palace and Wolves, on top of an increasingly divisive atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium where captain Granit Xhaka was booed off last weekend.
Newspaper reports have suggested the Spanish manager's job is under threat with Jose Mourinho touted as a potential replacement, and Cross told the Sunday Supplement his relationship with the club's fans had never developed enough for him to ride out their current poor run of form.
"I think we've reached a point where Unai Emery is done," he said. "I don't think they'll sack him until maybe Christmas or top four is out of sight, though.
"I just feel he was the wrong appointment, it's partly the language barrier but he's never connected with the fans. When he was unveiled we spoke to him after the press conference and he did the interview in Spanish through a translator; his language was much more expansive, colourful and clear.
"Eighteen months on, he still hasn't mastered English to any sort of acceptable level. What are his tactics? Is he a pressing manager, is he counter-attack, is he possession? We just don't know.
"The club backed him in the summer to the hilt, and this squad is easily good enough to get in the top four and it will be a failure in Emery's part if they don't. there's easily enough good players there. You look at other clubs, Arsenal have a better squad than Leicester but Brendan Rodgers is a better manager and getting more out of his players."
Mike McGrath, football writer at The Sun, agreed Emery's tenure at the Emirates was looking in danger - but said, barely a year into his managerial career at the Emirates, he hoped the former PSG and Sevilla boss would get more time to turn things around.
"There are things he's done wrong as a manager, the X Factor-style captaincy was a sign of weakness, and if you're a coach and you have the most highly paid player at the club, it's your job to find a place for him," he said.
"But I would also say I'm not sure about it being the end of the road. I'd like to see him get given a bit more time, he's got the Premier League joint-top goalscorer from last season, he's just had a window where Arsenal fans were rejoicing and were very happy with Luiz and Pepe, and behind the scenes the new Spanish hierarchy is, I'm told, a respected outfit."
'Xhaka deserves an apology'
Captain Xhaka missed Arsenal's draw with Wolves on Saturday and their penalty shoot-out defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup.
But did issue an explanation for swearing at Arsenal fans and storming down the tunnel when he was substituted against Crystal Palace last week, citing abuse he and his family had received on social media as well as catcalls inside the Emirates during that game.
Cross suggested Arsenal supporters needed to look at themselves in the mirror over the incident, and said: "I think he's owed an apology from the fans. I just cannot believe we have reached a point where in any way that a group of fans think en masse it's acceptable to boo, abuse and jeer their captain.
"I keep on hearing the excuse that he's trudging off and it all started from there. Do me a favour, the die is cast; they don't like Xhaka.
"But to make him fearful to play at home, which is what looks like has happened, if you had 50,000 booing in your ears and abusing you on social media, he talked about people wishing death upon his family, when does that end?"
Jason Burt, the Telegraph's chief football correspondent, told the Supplement the best way for the situation to be diffused would be for Xhaka to issue an apology.
"It was his reaction, although understandable it would help the situation if he did," he said. "He kind of has, the way he put it out was insightful because this abuse is beyond anything that's acceptable.
"It has been for a long time, it's getting worse on social media in particular, and Emery on Friday was trying to differentiate between what happened in the stadium and on social media. Ok that's fine, but the abuse in the stadium was pretty bad too.
"I think fans almost think they are buying the right to abuse people. It's like a transaction, we've bought this right. You haven't, all you are buying is buying a ticket for a game.
"It doesn't give you the right to abuse anyone. You can express your anger, but it's gone too far. Look at things like Arsenal Fan TV, it's goading people into making very extreme reactions post-match, this guy should never play for the club, he's this, he's that. Hang on, you've just watched a football match. Don't take it too far."