Unai Emery’s toughest Europa League test is convincing Arsenal fans to take it as seriously - World News Headlines|India News|Tech news | world news today|Sports news,worldnewsheadline

Breaking News

Post Top Ad

Friday, September 21, 2018

Unai Emery’s toughest Europa League test is convincing Arsenal fans to take it as seriously

Unai Emery’s biggest challenge in his debut season at Arsenal isn’t shoring up his watery defence, 

Becoming the first manager in world football to work out how best to utilise Mesut Özil, or even plucking up the courage to tell Carl Jenkinson to just sling his hook already. No, Emery’s biggest challenge at Arsenal this season is figuring out a way to make this football club begin taking the Europa League as seriously as he does. 
On the evidence of yesterday evening at the Emirates, it’s not going to be easy. It doesn’t much help that the Europa League is an unloveable thing at the best of times, of course; a copy-and-paste Champions League with half the budget, straight from Uefa’s simply essentials shelf for those forlorn clubs not quite glamorous enough to be shopping for their premium product.

Nothing encapsulates the differences better than the respective pre-match anthems. Champions League teams are treated to flattering phrases being lustily belted out over the same piece of string music played immediately prior to the anointing of the sovereign at the coronation of the British monarch. Europa League teams get 45 seconds of budget eurotrash woahing that sounds suspiciously like it was signed off by a panel of exclusively grey-haired old men. It's hardly a fair contest. Last season marked Arsenal’s debut appearance in the Europa and yet, with Arsène Wenger generally content to use the tournament as a glorified crèche, the club’s supporters never truly got behind it. Attendances were modest, with a record low 25,909 turning out for the 6-0 win over BATE Borisov, and even Wenger himself struggled at times to disguise his lack of interest. 

Worryingly for Emery, that apathy looks to have extended into the new season. Tickets for the visit of the mighty FC Vorskla Poltava were available for a smidge over £15, about the cost of a flat white and single bus ride in the capital, but that still wasn’t cheap enough for some, with large swathes of red seats visible as Arsenal went about their business. Understandably, then, the atmosphere fell flat even despite the six goals.

The club actually gave the official attendance as 59,039 — at least according to the rather flustered media attendant who squeezed himself between the press rows brandishing a sheet of A4, armed for the predictable chorus of jibes by repeatedly muttering “that’s tickets sold, that’s tickets sold”. In reality it was far less, and not even the club’s very own Sean Spicer could distract from a disappointing The sea of red certainly didn’t go unnoticed by Emery. “We need this competition, and we need to show our supporters that we are excited for this competition,” he nodded sagely in his post-match press conference. “But also it is our job to bring them here.”

You can’t possibly say that Arsenal didn’t give those who had bothered to turn out their money’s worth. The Europa League means something to Emery — only Giovanni Trapattoni has won the competition as many times — and so it didn’t come as that much of a surprise to see that he had named a strong starting XI, with the outstanding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leading the line and three of the club’s summer signings handed full debuts. 

Poor old Vorskla simply couldn’t cope, unsurprising when you consider that, even despite Arsenal’s anaemic attendance, they were playing in front of comfortably double the 19,679 people who have paid to watch them in all eight of their Ukrainian Premier League matches this season. Nobody likes a cakewalk, with Arsenal quite charitably laying on a now customary ninth hour defensive balls-up, to ensure that the entertainment kept coming.

Those two late consolation goals, which came after Emery had made all three of his substitutions and flung on promising youngsters Mattéo Guendouzi and Emile Smith Rowe, provided something of a cautionary tale. Even if not all of Arsenal’s supporters are currently on side, Emery cannot afford to begin tinkering too much in this tournament, especially with a place in the Champions League at stake. 

Besides, Emery knows better than anyone that the quickest way of bringing supporters on side is not just by winning matches, but playing stylishly. Arsenal achieved that for the majority of the second-half against Vorskla, while Emery’s willingness to rely on his big name players on a Thursday night should encourage more fans through the gate next time round. “It will be step by step,” Emery added later. “But I am sure they will begin to come little by little to be here with us.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad