Unai Emery claims Arsenal fans lacked 'patience' during his time as manager

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Emery is currently in charge at Villarreal
Emery is currently in charge at Villarreal / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Unai Emery has reflected on his time at Arsenal, claiming that the club's supporters did not have the patience to endure the lengthy rebuild the Gunners' required.

Emery took over in north London following Arsene Wenger's departure in 2018 and lasted until November the following year, losing in the Europa League final in his only full season at the club.

“It was a difficult moment for any coach coming in, to establish yourself,” Emery told The Athletic.

“Certain players who had been important, but were not any longer, found that difficult to understand. The fans also found it difficult to understand that there needed to be an evolution. Changes were needed, and I began those changes.”

He continued: “It was not an easy process. The fans did not have patience. [Granit] Xhaka had problems with the fans and in the dressing room where other experienced players did not understand his role as captain. Xhaka was an important player for me — he was a good person, very committed to his coach.

“The club was happy with me, but the fans were calling for a change, and it had to happen.”

Since leaving Arsenal Emery has re-established himself as one of the best managers in world football, leading Villarreal to Europa League glory last season. Along the way he even got one over on Arsenal, knocking his former side out in the semi-finals.

Since Emery left, the Gunners have continued to struggle but things are finally looking up this year as they are challenging for a top-four finish.

“They have put together a group who are all going in the same direction, working together, showing respect,” he says. “I knew that whoever began after Wenger, it was difficult for people to understand the changes that had to be made.

“[Mikel] Arteta is doing a good job, continuing what I began. He has had that patience from the fans, the patience they did not have with me. But I understand that.”

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