Unai Emery’s Arsenal future is hanging by a thread with the club hierarchy considering possible replacements followinga run of six matches without a winand a widespread loss of faith from the supporters.
Emeryinsisted that Arsenal’s executivesare “supporting” and “backing” him, but the feeling within the club is that the head coach’s departure is now imminent unless he can engineer a sudden and unexpected upturn in performances.
The Daily Telegraphunderstands that Arsenal have begun the process of weighing uppotential replacementsfor Emery, with Massimiliano Allegri, the former Juventus manager, and Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves manager, believed to be among those who are seen as possible candidates for the job .
Arsenal meet Eintracht Frankfurt in theEuropa Leagueon Thursday before a trip to Norwich City on Sunday in a match that will feel perilous for Emery, who has overseen just one away victory in the Premier League this season.
Freddie Ljungberg, the assistant coach, is seen by many as the obvious candidate to take over from Emery on a temporary basis if technical director Edu and head of football Raul Sanllehi are unable to recruit a more experienced manager at this busy stage of the season.
Speaking before Wolves’ meeting with Braga in the Europa League, Nuno said he would not discuss “things that are not real”.
“You know I am not going to answer about that,” Nuno said when asked about the links with Arsenal. “I will never mention an issue that is not a reality. Speaking about a job as a manager would be disrespectful, I will not. ”
The Telegraphunderstands that Emery had been given a private show of support from his bosses ahead of theirrecent defeat by Leicester City, with no ultimatums being issued at that stage.
Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham, the managing director, then went public with the backing of Emery following the Leicester match, insisting that they “firmly believe Unai is the right man for the job”.
The nature of their2-2 draw with Southampton last weekend, though, has only underlined the concerns held within the team, fan base and boardroom about Emery’s tactics and selection.
On Wednesday, Emery made the damning admission that Arsenal’s opponentsno longer fear coming to the Emiratesas he pleaded with the club’s fans to stay behind the side, despite their terrible run of form.
He said the team must be more “compact” and added that one impressive performance could be enough to revive the side’s connection with the home supporters, who booed en masse at the end of Saturday’s game.
“Really, the club is supporting me,” Emery said. “I feel the club, everyone responsible in that area, is backing me. I appreciate it a lot. I feel strong with that support and know my responsibility to come back and change that situation.
“We need to recover our confidence. We have very good players, but now they are playing sometimes without confidence. We need one good match, one good connection with the supporters and above all I need mainly to be strong in my consistent way every day. Really, I am feeling like that. ”
Emery consistently reiterated that the team need to rebuild their connection with the club’s supporters, saying opposing sides are currently “fearless” when they arrive at the Emirates.
His pleas come after the fans booed Granit Xhaka last month, triggering the emotional outburst which led to the midfielder being stripped of the Arsenal captaincy. Emery described Xhaka as “important” to the team and the Swiss international could return to the side on Thursday.
“They [the supporters] need to back and help the players in each moment,” Emery said. “The teams are coming here and playing fearless against us. This is the first thing we need to change. We need to change it and we need to be strong and we need to be together.
“They [the fans] are angry and disappointed, but we are as well. Each match here in the Emirates with our supporters is very important. We need their support. ”
Awin or a draw against Frankfurt will guarantee qualification for the Europa League knockout stages. Arsenal will also progress if Standard Liege lose against Vitoria SC.
Emery is expected to make plenty of changes to his line-up, with Shkodran Mustafi among the players who are likely to return.
Asked if the players support their under-fire coach, Mustafi said: “First of all we play for the club. If you play for Arsenal, you play for a big club and you have to know you have to give everything to win.
“We play for each other because we are a team, the boys in the dressing room and the coaching staff are all in the same boat. If the coach is under pressure, the players are, too. We stick together, we fight for each other and everyone is trying to give their best. ”
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