Arsenal's recent years, maybe even going as far back as a decade ago, have mostly been considered to be something of a malaise as covered before even some seven years ago. A toxic mood took over large swathes of the club's fanbase with the "Wenger out" brigade growing ever larger and more vocal throughout that period, even spawning the infamous Arsenal Fan TV.
When Arsene Wenger announced he would be leaving Arsenal, Ivan Gazidis had promised a "bold and brave" appointment to replace the long-serving Frenchman. Mikel Arteta, the former Arsenal captain, now assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City had been touted to be the one but it would seem a late change of heart has led Arsenal to Unai Emery.
Arteta certainly would have fit the "bold and brave" profile that Gazidis identified but with that comes risk. Arteta, while learning from one of the world's most respected coaches in Guardiola, has no managerial experience of his own. Another problem Arteta could come across is being "one of the boys". Many of Arsenal's current squad have been there for quite some time and will know Arteta from when he was a player there. How would Arteta fare when it comes to making the hard decisions? Going from being one of the boys, to being the boss is quite a step. Arteta will also doubtlessly have picked up a lot of knowledge from Wenger. Most would agree that change is what is needed at Arsenal, if one of Wenger's old captains was to take control then how much would really change?
Emery would represent change. A change in the style of play and in approach. He is a proven manager who performs best when his teams play on the counter attack. This may actually suit the Gunners better than their current possession based style. Their biggest recent signings have been pacey forwards, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. The midfield has good passers already - that much is a given. The defence is the clear weakness in the team. Adopting a counter attacking approach would allow the team to protect their weakness. It should also be noted that Mesut Ozil's best days of his career were in Jose Mourinho's counter attacking Real Madrid team.
Sky Sports' Spanish football expert, Terry Gibson explained:
"He's rigid in approach. I've very rarely seen him stray from the 4-2-3-1 system and his style is more about a defensive shape than pressing. He's quite conservative in approach. He's not like the coaches in Spain who want to attack and commit players forward. He's not going to do what Pep has done at Manchester City – it will be rigid and organised.
"It's something that Arsenal need – that intensity on a daily basis that probably wasn't there at the end of Arsene Wenger's reign. It will be interesting to see who can take it and who can't. He isn't a tough task master in terms of discipline but he's all about hard work. It depends whether the players are prepared to do that."
Even Patrick Vieira, Wenger's most successful captain, said in the ITV "Keane vs Vieira" documentary that Wenger's greatest strength was his trust in his players but it could also be his biggest weakness. The seemingly laissez faire approach has obviously not been working in recent years. Perhaps the harder approach to be the antithesis of Wenger could be the antidote to the malaise. Many of the current Arsenal squad have been drifting for some time now; this could be the impetus they need.
Emery's most recent post was in charge of Paris Saint Germain where he was in charge for two seasons after a successful period in charge. With the megabucks invested in the French capital's team by their Qatari owners, there are some lofty expectations. Since Carlo Ancelotti's reign in Paris, they have been largely dominant picking up trophy after trophy and usually making the league look easy.
That is as far as it went, though, and as far as Nasser Bin Ghanim Al-Khelaifi, the President of PSG, is concerned, that is failure. The inability to transmit such dominance onto the European scene is considered insufficient. Unai Emery is not the first manager to pay for this "failure" with his job. Laurent Blanc and even a coach held in such high esteem as Carlo Ancelotti have found themselves out of the door.
The narrative that Emery had done an insufficient job at PSG has been absorbed by many fans as well. Many fans scoff at the Spaniard's inability to win the Champions League. Even a tremendous achievement like winning the Europa League in three consecutive years is not taken seriously with comments like "it's only the Europa League".
The Champions League's other high profile nouveau riche club, Manchester City has also stuttered in that competition. Catching up with Europe's elite is clearly not easy - at least one of Barcelona, Real Madrid and/or Bayern Munich have contested the final in the last 10 seasons. It is almost a closed shop.
Champions League failure aside, Emery can look back with pride at the majority of his managerial career, working at different levels. As his first season of being a manager Lorca Deportiva, he got them promoted for the first time in their history. At Almeria, they were promoted to La Liga for the first time in their history and finished an impressive 8th in their first top flight season.
In 2008, Valencia were two points above the relegation zone, prompting the sacking of Dutchman, Ronald Koeman. The next season, Emery came in and guided the same team to third place, ensuring Champions League qualification during what was a difficult time financially for the club where they had to abandon construction of their stadium. For the next three seasons, their top stars, David Silva, David Villa and Juan Mata would all have to be sold to help the debt issues, all the while Valencia maintained their grip on third place.
His record is not spotless, with the Champions League failure at PSG, the flop in Spartak Moscow and not winning the league in his first season at PSG, however, there is plenty to provide hope to Arsenal fans with what Unai Emery can provide, if his time at Sevilla and Valencia are anything to go by. Arsenal have the potential as a club to go further than Sevilla or Valencia ever did and they are in much better shape to do so. Emery has made a success of clubs with low budgets - and if the rumours of a £50 million transfer budget this summer are true, then Emery and his director of football will be put to the test.
Nobody should have any delusions about Arsenal competing for the Champions League and even for the Premier League at this stage, that is some way off, the key for now is to reestablish themselves back in Europe's top competition.