Arsenal manager Unai Emery meets with fans, promises ambitious football


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Unai Emery has promised Arsenal fans he will create a team that lets fans enjoy “every minute in the stadium” — but warned that they may have to forget about the club’s traditional 1-0 scoreline.

Emery met with fans for the first time on Wednesday evening at an annual supporters’ event hosted by Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis at the Emirates Stadium as the club tries to heal the rift with a fan base that grew increasingly tired during the last few seasons under Arsene Wenger.

The new head coach, who replaced Wenger in May, addressed the crowd and stressed the importance of having fans fully behind the team at the start of the campaign, pledging to play a style of football that the they will enjoy.

“I want ambition from this team, I want them to be ambitious in every match,” he said, as reported by Arseblog. “I want for 90 minutes in every match for them to be in the game and to be working hard. I want that every day, this is my ambition.

“For me I want the supporters to feel every minute in the stadium, I want them to enjoy.”

The end of Wenger’s reign was marred by thousands of empty seats at the Emirates during home games as the fan base grew increasingly disappointed with the team’s lack of progress.

The stadium is likely to be full again for the opening home match against defending champions Manchester City — the toughest possible start for Emery, whose team then travels to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea the following week.

The fans’ patience could be tested quickly if Arsenal do not deliver results in those games, but Emery insisted that he is happy with the scheduling.

“It’s a nice way for me to start, the first match is a very big match and it’s my first match with you [the fans],” Emery said. “I think it helps us to start with a good energy and for us to start together like this and then we will work and work and work because I only promise you one thing, that we are going to work hard.

“After that, we play against a very good team and I hope we have a good result together and our capacity for playing together as a team gives us a good chance to win. I want for this day for us to start in a really positive way.”

Emery also stood by his claim from his first news conference that he would rather win 4-3 than 1-0 — a scoreline made famous under legendary manager George Graham.

“I said I prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0 because football is about emotion and what is the best feeling in football? When you score. So I want my team to score,” he said.

Emery also met with club staff at the stadium earlier in the day as he begins work in earnest to prepare for preseason training.

The event highlighted the new structure at Arsenal, where Wenger served as an all-powerful manager for two decades but where the workload is now distributed between several senior figures.

Recruitment chief Sven Mislintat and director of football relations Raul Sanllehi also attended the meeting — two key members of staff who were brought in last year to oversee the team’s transfer business.

Gazidis went into some length detailing the new structure, and said Emery still has a big say in which players are bought and sold at the club.

“We have two technical experts involved in the process and many more behind them helping them,” Gazidis said. “The two technical experts would be Sven Mislintat, the Head of Recruitment and Raul Sanllehi, who works on the negotiation side and then Unai himself, who has a big say.

“I don’t believe in bringing a player in that the coach does not want individually and also positionally.

“I am involved, in the connection between the financial side of the club and in certain player negotiations. That collective works very well, we all operate in a different way.

“There is an agreement between Sven and Unai and then the rest of the work is more technical, legal and financial side is done by Raul, Huss [Fahmy] and myself. Ultimately those decisions culminate in my recommendation to the board for its approval.

“I felt that when we decided to make the change on the football side, that we needed to come up with a new structure and one that involve world class people that would challenge each other and have that robust debate, but then get behind each other and the decisions that are made and execute them as well as we can. Everyone in this team has enormous experience.”

Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.

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