Arsenal boss Unai Emery is under pressure following the club’s 1-0 Premier League defeat to Sheffield United on Monday night.
Monday night’s chastening 1-0 Premier League defeat to Sheffield United has seen Unai Emery come under the spotlight. As usual, a defeat sparked a fierce debate on social media. Should the Spaniard stay or go?
The Arsenal board are ready to persevere with the Spaniard. He’s currently failing to coax the best from his best players – Nicolas Pepe is a noticeable example – but they still feel it’s better to stick, rather than twist.
But supporters are growing impatient. Have they really evolved since Arsene Wenger walked away? That, still, is debatable.
Emery need to steer Arsenal into the top four this season to make it into a third campaign in north London.
But with Arsenal rocky at the back – and rivals Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and even Leicester enjoying good campaigns – it’s a task that looks easier said than done.
One of the reasons for the Gunners sticking by Emery is because appointing a successor, particularly at this stage, would be a tricky thing to do.
Massimiliano Allegri is free but appears to prefer the Manchester United job should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s head roll at Old Trafford.
However, earlier this month, Freddie Ljungberg emerged as a potential candidate.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein said in a Q and A: “Freddie is highly-rated by the players and staff.
“And the logical feeling is he would take temporary charge if anything happened with Emery.
“He has ‘number one’ ambitions of his own and won’t hang around somewhere for too long if he doesn’t think the opportunity will come.”
Ljungberg knows what Arsenal’s all about. He spent a glittering career in north London, becoming a key player under Wenger as the club won the Premier League in 2004 without losing a game.
He’s popular, too. Teenager Bukayo Saka was full of praise for the Swede recently, saying: “It helps me so much having Freddie on the training pitch. Sometimes when the manager is trying to communicate with me I don’t understand what he is saying and Freddie speaks better English.
“Freddie has been a player at this level before and a very good one. “He played in the same position as me on the left wing and he’s been a big part in my progress.
“I couldn’t ask for much more than to have an Arsenal legend giving me advice every day.
“He’s been with me since I was 15 and seen me do amazing things but his main message is always to stay humble and keep working hard because he really thinks I can be a top player.”
Arsenal fans should be careful what they wish for, however.
Sentiment has seen football clubs come calling for former flames with mixed success over the years.
Solskjaer is under pressure at Manchester United, just 10 months after he swaggered into town as Jose Mourinho’s replacement and Sir Alex Ferguson 2.0.
It didn’t work for Alan Shearer at Newcastle in 2009. He was brought in to keep them up but couldn’t manage to do it.
Frank Lampard at Chelsea, Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola are examples where the tactic has worked well.
But for each success story there’s a failure.
So while Arsenal already believe Ljurnberg could be the man to replace Emery, they’re willing to stand by their man for the time being.
More results like Monday’s defeat to Sheffield United, however, will only push him closer to the exit door.