Thoughts on Emery’s Press Conference on the Xhaka Situation
As the saying goes, the shit has hit the fan following the Granit Xhaka episode in the disappointing draw on Sunday. I’d touched on it yesterday but I’d like to take some time out to share my thoughts on Emery’s presser yesterday ahead of the Liverpool game in the Carabao Cup. Knowing the English press in all my years as an Arsenal fan, I was very certain that all line of questioning would be centered around the incident of Sunday, rather than who the manager was going to feature in tonight’s game.
You can get the full excerpt of the interview on the club’s official website but I’d like to touch on a few points the manager mentioned in the course of the interview. Captain or not, what Granit Xhaka did was absolutely wrong and disrespectful to the values of Arsenal football club and as Sir Isaac Newton stated, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. I remember that fateful game a few years ago when our dearest Arsene Wenger in his infinite wisdom, substituted Andrey Arshavin for a young Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the fans hit out immediately, singing that he doesn’t know what he was doing. The manager maintained his calm decorum for the entirety of the game but famously stated afterwards that he has made 30,000 substitutions, so really, the fans can’t tell him how to do his job. He had the option of unleashing his inner Jose Mourinho to throw a fit or something, but that professionalism took center stage, rather than his emotions. Ok, I digress.
Now here we are, a couple days after the incident and there was pretty much radio silence from Arsenal, but as expected, we the fans, and journos alike were hoping to get some form of closure from the manager and he delivered that, so let’s get to it.
Firstly, Emery discussed at length on his player’s mental state first and foremost, which was clearly on show on Sunday. Xhaka isn’t the first player that has been booed by his home fans (remember Emmanuel Eboue, 2011/12 season Aaron Ramsey and even Hector Bellerin when he was going through that wretched run of form) and he wouldn’t be the last but he allowed his emotions make him do the unthinkable. Now the manager says he’s devastated and sad. It’s okay to be devastated and sad after you did something of that nature, but as the manager says, the player still needs our support, as donned the famous Red and White 143 times in four seasons with the club. The supporters are clearly unhappy and rightly so, but Xhaka deserves the stick he got for his tantrums. I’ve learned that the club is willing to offer some counseling session to the player, so let’s see how things pan out from there.
Next up, is the issue of a public apology from the player himself. I am in alignment with the manager that it has to be done, because anything else will be unacceptable. The same fans that boo you today can certainly love you tomorrow – yea, we are fickle like that, so Xhaka needs to go online and issue that apology.
We don’t really care what platform he uses, as long it’s out there that he regrets his actions and says he’s sorry. He can use the famous love sign on his post while he’s at it.
Then of course, there’s the CAPTAINCY!!! Here’s I’m going to point all my fingers on Unai Emery because he showed a clear lack of leadership in this regard. In the previous campaign, Laurent Koscielny retained his place as club captain following Emery’s arrival, while Petr Cech, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil completed the famous captain gang, but at the start of the new season, we lost Ramsey, Monreal and Cech while Koscielny pretty much bailed out on us, leaving us with just Mesut Ozil as the last man standing from that clique. I don’t know why it took us that long for the manager to elect his new skipper to take over from Koscielny, but the fact that Emery still had to consult with the players to have ‘their votes’ seemed really weak. So we got Xhaka and know the other players that completed the new leadership of the team.
Now, you, the captain of all people, gets substituted and you do that? Not good enough. That is more than enough grounds to get stripped off the captaincy. A certain William Gallas threw some tantrums in St. Andrews and launched a scathing attack on his team mates, losing his role as skipper. Emery tactically found a way to deflect from giving a direct answer when he was asked whether Xhaka would lose the captaincy, and I’d say that was very crafty, but with the Wolves game coming on in the weekend, we will have a clearer picture. Word on the street is that the players still want Xhaka to remain captain despite what happened but I expect some decisiveness from Emery on this matter, which is sadly, something he hasn’t shown a lot this season.
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