Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Arsenal begin 'thorough search' for next manager after 'very difficult' decision to sack Unai Emery

Freddie Ljungberg has full backing from Josh Kroenke and the board to lead first team until appointment is made

Freddie Ljungberg has been placed in temporary charge of Arsenal's first team as the club search for a new manager. PA
Freddie Ljungberg has been placed in temporary charge of Arsenal's first team as the club search for a new manager. PA

Arsenal are doing a "thorough search" for their next manager and are confident Freddie Ljungberg can handle the demands of being interim coach until an appointment is made, club director Josh Kroenke has said.

Arsenal sacked Unai Emery on Friday, with the club on their worst run of form since 1992, which included just four wins in 13 Premier League games. The decision was made to end the Spaniard's time in charge following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Ljungberg, who spent nine successful years as a player for Arsenal, has been entrusted with first team responsibilities, including taking the reins for Sunday's league trip to Norwich City as the club sound out Emery's permanent successor.

A number of potential candidates have been linked with the vacancy, among them Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo, former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri, and former club captain Mikel Arteta, who is currently assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

In an interview with the Arsenal website, Kroenke insisted that the club will be doing their due diligence over their next appointment and will not be rushing into any decisions.

"Our process is already underway," Kroenke said. "It's going to be led by [Head of Football] Raul [Sanllehi], [Managing Director] Vinai [Venkatesham], [Technical Director] Edu and [chief contract negotiator] Huss Fahmy here internally. I look forward to getting with them and working closely with them throughout this process.

"Because of our confidence in Freddie we're very fortunate that we're going to be entering into our process and doing a thorough search and it's about finding the right candidate, it's not about finding the first candidate."

Emery had been in charge for 18 months following his appointment in the summer of 2018 when he took over from Arsene Wenger, who spent 22 years at Arsenal.

After an encouraging start under Emery, which included 11 wins in a row and an unbeaten run that stretched 22 games, Arsenal tailed off last season, missing out on a top-four place despite being in pole position, while they were thoroughly beaten in the Europa League final by rivals Chelsea.

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Kroenke explained that the decision to part ways with Emery was not an easy one to make, but ultimately disappointing results in recent months forced the club into acting.

"[It was] very difficult [to sack Emery]. Like all of our fans and supporters around the globe, we've been concerned about our recent string of performances," he said. "We wanted to support Unai and his staff until we decided it was time to make a change and ultimately we came to that decision over the last several weeks as a group between myself, Raul, Vinai and Edu.

"First and foremost Unai is a good man, someone that we all respect very much. His work ethic on a daily basis between him and his staff was fantastic. Ultimately we started to fall short of several goals that we set. We still feel that we can achieve those goals this season, which is why we decided to make the change now."

Updated: December 1, 2019 09:43 AM

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