Unai Emery now looks set to be dismissed by Arsenal. The style of football is bland. The results on the pitch have been underwhelming. He seems to have lost the dressing room. The sack is inevitable for the Spaniard, we’re only waiting for the club statement. But according to various news outlets, Nuno Espirito Santo is the favourite to succeed him at the Emirates.
The Daily Mail among many sources are reporting the Wolves Boss is the Gunners’ first choice for Emery’s replacement. Weight is added to this story with Santo’s agent Jorge Mendes being someone Raul Sanllehi knows well. Under the Portguese’s stewardship, the Wanderers sit 5th in the Premier League and 2nd in their Europa League group. Quite an achievement for a side in the Championship only 2 seasons ago.
Links and rumours to Nuno have received a mixed response online from Arsenal fans. Though they want change, whether the retired goalkeeper is the right man for the job is raising questions. We’ll look at both sides of the argument and make a judgement:
Why Nuno Espirito Santo is the right man
The 45-year-old arrived at Molineux after the side went through a tumultuous season. 2016/17 saw Wolves struggling near the bottom, make 3 managerial changes and failing to start the new era under the new ownership with progress. 15th place was enough to keep them in the second tier.
The appointment by the FOSUN Group was a masterstroke. Dealing with a Jorge Mendes client made the super agent’s list of incredible Portuguese talent available at Wolves’ disposal. Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota, two of the country’s most exciting prospects, had signed for the Wanderers. The latter on an initial loan that became permanent in 2018. This book of contacts that could be available to Arsenal, could be a game changing. A reminder that Neves only costed Wolves £15 million. Mendes’ network MUST be taken into account.
Now the money had been spent and everything was in place, it was up to Nuno Espirito Santo to deliver. Promotion was a minimum with the losses the club was making and the money they had spent. The Portuguese delivered in style. 1st place in the Championship with 99 points, going up as Champions. The brand of football they played was a joy to watch. Exciting, energetic and full of goals. 82 to be precise. Here’s an article that breaks down their entire style of play. We could be here all day.
We’ve all seen how Wolves took the Premier League by storm last season. Nuno led them to 7th place in 2018/19, earning Europa League football as a newly promoted side. Truly incredible from the club. Molineux has now become a tough away day for the top sides. The side have an incredible record against the Top 6 as shown below. Quite the opposite of what the red of North London has become under Emery. Spineless against the top sides, whilst teams now take the game to the Gunners at the Emirates. Sad considering what it was under Arsene Wenger.
Why he might not be the right man
But there are two sides to a coin. Yes what Nuno Santo has done in Wolverhampton is impressive. However, we have to take other things into account too.
Prior to joining Wolves, the Champions League winner’s C.V is rather bleak. At Rio Ave in his native Portugal, his tenure was successful, taking the side to Europa League and helping them reach two domestic finals.
But his next two jobs that followed were failures. He lasted hardly over a 1 year at Valencia and only a year with Porto. No silverware or notable achievements with either side. Neither Los Ches or Dragões are anywhere near as big a club as Arsenal. Bearing that in mind, would a step up from Wolves be a wise move, especially midway through the season?
Also, his achievements at Wolves can’t be exaggerated. Promotion was a bare minimum for the club, considering the money spent on players and the losses being made. Moreover, Mendes played a significant part in the transfers. No offence, but would Ruben Neves really leave to join Wolves, with the dozens of top European sides that would’ve taken him? Not without Mendes’ influence, who saw a vision and ambition under the FOSUN group.
I’m not convinced the super-agent will allow the same calibre of players to go to Arsenal. Or even agree to Nuno going. The ambitions of the Kroenkes remain in question, with the project at Wolves looking far more appealing. In my opinion, Nuno Espirito Santo would NOT be the right man for Arsenal. He’s a manager showing great promise and has proven himself in the top tier. But he’s better off staying at Wolves with their vision and ambitions, compared to the chaos at Arsenal. Almost Leicesteresque.
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