resuming normal activities

A Guardian reader speaks for me: 

Unai Emery
Already a distant memory
The master of underachieving
Thank you and good evening

It wasn’t fun while it lasted. 

Emery always struck me as a really decent man who was wholly out of his depth at Arsenal. I can’t read his mind, but I had the feeling that he was paralyzed by high expectations, which exacerbated both his natural caution and his habit of ceaseless tactical tinkering. The atmosphere at the Emirates grew so noxious that the players clearly didn’t want to win for Emery, because a win here and there — they knew that consistent winning was impossible — would merely have prolonged the agony. 

It’s interesting that Freddie Ljungberg’s tweet in response to his hiring emphasizes putting smiles back on faces at the Emirates. There haven’t been many smiles there lately. 

The betting shops are strongly favoring Max Allegri as the next permanent gaffer. Not sure what I think about that. You can’t learn much from his success at Juventus, because the resources he commanded there would’ve made almost anyone successful. He was very good at Milan at first, but after the catastrophic and inexplicable error of ditching Pirlo results declined, and his sacking after four years was probably deserved. I also don’t have a clear sense of what style he prefers when he doesn’t have more money at his disposal than any of his rivals. On balance, I think I would prefer Arteta, even with his lack of head-coaching experience, because he’s very, very smart and under Pep will have learned a lot about how to implement a style of football that suits the game as it is today. (This Amy Lawrence piece suggests that Arteta could be the frontrunner after all.) 

The good news is that the season isn’t lost. Europa League chances are still alive, and, more important, a top-four finish in the PL is certainly possible, given the weaknesses and inconsistencies of most of the chief rivals. We may look back and see that the departure of Emery come just in time. 

About a month ago I deleted all the big Arsenal sites from my RSS feed. Today I’m bringing them back.