Tuesday, January 26, 2021

How Unai Emery’s past with Monchi is key to Arsenal’s changing fortunes!

Arsenal are ready to activate the buyout cause of Monchi and reunite with Emery.

Arsenal have reportedly offered their vacant technical director role to Roma man Monchi. The Spaniard will take the role if they activate the £1million buyout clause in his current contract which expires next year. During their time together at Sevilla, the former goalkeeper oversaw a transfer policy that found hidden gems and bargain signings that won trophies as well as bring in an impressive return when later sold on.

Unai Emery’s arrival at Arsenal was supposed to represent the dawn of a new era at the Emirates Stadium. Not only was the Spaniard brought in take the Gunners into a future without Arsene Wenger, his appointment also signalled a change in the dynamic behind the scenes. The manager will no longer be the most powerful man at the club. Emery is the Arsenal head coach, not the manager, and that distinction is important. But those days are gone. A new management structure is now in place, with Emery slotting in as the head coach of the football team.

It is a model that is still seen as being fairly novel to the Premier League but continental clubs have operated this way for decades, something which played in Emery’s favour given his previous experience working in a similar set up. But while his responsibilities may be limited compared to the influence Wenger used to wield, the Spaniard’s past could be set to inform the future direction of the club all the same. At Sevilla, Emery enjoyed success working under Monchi, the former goalkeeper who became the mastermind behind the La Liga club’s rise from relegation in 2000 to winning the Europa League five times, more than any other team.

He is the leading candidate to take control over recruitment, player development and sales having generated more than £175million by cutting deals for bargains and hidden gems that could later be sold off for major sums of money. Precisely the sort of “efficiency” in the transfer market that Sanllehi and Venkatesham have preached as the ethos that will come allow the Gunners to compete with their cash rich opponents in the Premier League’s top six and in Europe. It certainly worked for Sevilla, a side with less resources and pulling power than Arsenal. They are now an established force near the very top of the league in Spain, and regularly feature in the Champions League. What’s more, they reached 14 finals in 10 years under Monchi, all the while making a profit on players, and the groundwork he laid, with a network of over 700 scouts at its peak, saw them reach another final last season, to lose to Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey.

During their time together at Sevilla, the pair enjoyed an excellent working relationship – one which the former knew would allow him to concentrate on working with his players on the training pitch week in, week out, with very few distractions. Emery had total trust in Monchi to deliver him players that fitted into his style and way of thinking, something the sporting director did with expert precision. In an interview with the Guardian, in 2016, Monchi gave a fascinating insight into the way transfer business was conducted at Sevilla and how his network of scouts operate.

“Sixteen people cover a series of leagues,” he said. “For the first five months we watch a lot of football but with no particular aim: we’re just accumulating data. Every month we produce an ideal XI for each league.Then in December we start watching players who appeared regularly in different contexts – home, away, international – to build the broadest possible profile.Then in December we start watching players who appeared regularly in different contexts – home, away, international – to build the broadest possible profile. That gives us this. A colour-coded spreadsheet shows players by position. Around 250 potential targets, in all positions. The manager says: ‘I want a left-back who averages 11km a game, runs 800m at full speed, uses both feet.’ And from these, 10 will fit.”

Emery would tell Monchi what sort of player his squad needed and the director would go out and find a footballer who fit that profile. There is not a huge transfer budget to play with at Arsenal this summer before player sales. Bringing in someone who call operate in similar circumstances will be needed to help the Gunners bridge the gap on their rivals. Arsenal were one of the few remaining elite clubs who allowed the manager total control while Wenger was still in charge. Those days are now gone for the Gunners with the hope being that by ensuring Emery’s mind if focused only on what happens in training at London Colney and on the pitch on match day, he can get his squad in perfect shape, rather than becoming distracted by other duties.

It will be up to the new technical director to provide him with the players to keep moving forward, and with Monchi set to leave Roma after less than two years in the Italian capital, he has become the front-runner.


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