It eventually came down to the finest of margins.
Our last two matches in the Premier League and the Europa League final.
After more than fifty matches throughout the season, it boiled down to how we would perform in 270 minutes.
If we won all three?
It would mean a return to Champions League football at the first time of asking from Emery – and a big shiny European trophy to boot.
We would be competing in the summer for the European Super Cup, we would have banished our European hoodoo and announced our comeback to the big stage in the best possible way.
Instead, we were treated to an insipid 1-1 draw at home to Brighton, followed by a win over Burnley (too little, too late by this point) and then a calamitous performance in Baku where we were sent back to London with our tail between our legs by Chelsea.
From where we sit now, looking back, hindsight really does bring things into focus.
We could be remembering what constituted to be a wonderful season, culminating in a win over our London rivals on a European stage, lifting the Europa League.
We could be looking forward to a return of that famous Champions League anthem and more importantly, the extra clout and transfer budget that comes with inclusion of the European Cup.
Unai Emery would be looked upon as taking us in the right direction, instead of doubts on whether he is the right man for the job.
Never mind a little common sense – we missed out on all of the above because of our own failings!
It would be fantastic if everybody could take the equivalent of a mental cold shower, and look at things from a different perspective.
Yes, it is our own fault that we are in what is now a compromising position thanks to missing out on the Champions League.
However, have we not closed the gap?
Has Emery not made progress on where were when he took over – with largely the same squad that Arsene Wenger had?
We missed out on the top four by a solitary point. We missed out on the top3 by two points. Despite us picking up just one win on the home straight, we still only fell short by the finest of margins.
Jurgen Klopp, the buck-toothed, bespectacled coach heralded by all as a genius, finished in eighth spot in his first season.
Granted, he was then awarded a wad of cash to spend to revitalise his squad, but it shows what margins a new coach can bring. Klopp didn’t manage to do much in his first season, other than probably the most important factor – one that isn’t instantly tangible.
The roots of his tactics, his famous press, the demanding fitness ability that all players had to adhere to? That was instilled in that disappointing first season. The window of transition from where they were, to where they can now adapt their formation and tactics dynamically? That takes time.
Emery too, needs the time to ensure his tactics are bedded in. That press we saw in the games we flickered to life? The wins over Chelsea, spurs, United? That is what we can now expect next season, albeit a lot more frequently.
We dropped off constantly last season, our defence struggled to adapt to new instructions, plus last season began with two tough fixtures, which in turn put pressure on subsequent games.
Emery will be under no illusions regarding who he needs in and shipped out in order to strengthen and carry out his formulas into battle. The list will already be drawn up, and pre-season will see us again begin to hit the cardio emphatically in order to maintain the lung-bursting orders from Emery. The very same orders that will see us improve once again.
Our fanbase needs a dose of realism. Emery, nay, all coaches, need a window of time to instil their own virtues. Even the mightiest of oaks still need years to flower.
Yes, our transfer activity may not be as it should be for a club of our standing, but as we are self-sustaining, we can only spend what we make. We cleared around £40m last season?
Well, that’s how much we’ve got to work with.
Fear not though. Emery’s expertise will start to show next season. His excellent pedigree wasn’t obtained in a cereal packet, he earned it and if given time, he can show us how.
We have to support, rather than call into question everything.
At the end of the season, when the dust settles, let’s see where we are.
Yes its that time of the year again – smack bang in the middle of ‘no season land’ where fans navel gaze, to reflect and question, to fantasise and either build hope and expectation or look for someone or thing to change, blame or condemn.
Is it the players, management, executive or system that’s the cause of the inspiration for success or the reason for dilemma? How did we and how will we compare with our rivals?
I’ve done my own analysis many times since the final whistle of last season’s campaign, I’ve watched many, many vlogs, read blogs, taken all the media reports into consideration and still there are so many causes for doubts and even dreads for the forthcoming encounters that the 2019/20 hold.
In recent days we have had an open letter from representatives of Arsenal supporters to the owners and taken on board the responses and assurances.
Not the lead in I would have hoped for, but then I’m a fan and I’m puzzled and somewhat disappointed in the lack action and some sort of positivity on my horizon, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be in Unai Emery’s shoes.
I would anticipate that he is very aware of the despair that the whole of Arsenal felt at the conclusion of last season, he must take some of the responsibility for those calamities. Whilst accountability is apportioned it must also be tempered by the many issues he inherited – the squad built by the previous regime, the lack of funding for serious rebuilding over two transfer windows and the dreadful situation re player contracts. In essence – do the best you can with a chaotic mess. Not a very fair basis to judge his results by.
Having pleaded Emery’s case for mercy, the scales must be balanced somewhat by the lack of change in the development of defensive systems and strategies, constant changes in formation and a persistence employing players as wingbacks when they are either not capable of defending or are already playing out of position. Yes I know we had a serious depletion due injury but if we haven’t got players who can capably fill in then a change of strategy is called for. The over reliance on wingbacks is a hangover from days gone by when we had a very speedy winger but chose to overlap him with a defender speeding down the wing and then expecting the winger to drop back and defend – will we expect that from the likes of Zaha? – What a waste of money that would be.
For me the jury is out on the direction Arsenal will go come 11 August this year through to 17 May 2020. If Stan and Josh back Unai and give him the tools for change then hope and positivity will rise, conversely if their assurances are just meaningless hot air then I fear the head coach will take his share of the probable negativity that will ensue.
Whatever the outcome, hopefully we will al be in another ‘no season land’ this time next year as Arsenal supporters, with a successful season behind us and high expectation for another campaign. COYG.
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I can’t disagree with you. There are worries, I just think the adaptation period is now over so there will be better implementation of tactics. Also, it means the window for error is now gone too.