This may sound crazy, but another year spent in the doldrums of the Europa League may end up being a blessing in disguise for Arsenal.
It may not appear to be the most conventional of plans, but should signs continue to show The Gunners making the same old mistakes that brought down the reign of Arsene Wenger, time will surely be called on Unai Emery’s Arsenal tenure, too.
Dismissing Emery so soon after replacing Wenger would be a hurtful blow to those who put their faith in the Gunners boss just over a year ago – but it would be fair to say that the managerial landscape has changed so much over the last couple of decades that Emery could be sacked and still claim to have had a good innings as a Premier League boss.
There will undoubtedly be pressure on the manager next season after a fruitless first campaign – and while Emery will be looking to bring more tangible success to The Emirates next season, prolonging his mission to return The Gunners to their former glories could hold back the team in the long run.
Picture the scene. Arsenal comfortably secure a top-four finish and return to the Champions League. But is that enough? Arsenal’s reported spending power is minute compared to some of their rivals, and given the club broke their transfer record twice as a Europa League team, that suggests their continental status is irrelevant as far as prospective budgets are concerned.
Are we seriously led to believe that Champions League qualification will be the sole game-changer in that regard?
For Emery to progress under the current restrictions would be seriously impressive – but after the staleness of his inaugural campaign, can the Arsenal fans and board really expect sustainable success from the boss?
Let’s not forget that to date, Emery has only achieved success in the second-tier Europa League and the French league with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to call upon.
Is eventual Premier League or Champions League glory even a realistic aim for the Gunners manager?
If that doesn’t turn out to be the case, then Arsenal would be better off cutting their losses. As bold as his appointment was, their fifth-place finish and late-season collapse showed few signs of a bright future – despite the mass improvements that could be made next season (potentially prolonging his Arsenal stay).
But if the club want to deliver the big trophies, hiring someone with a past record of doing so would be a more sure-fire way of achieving that goal. With managers such as Massimiliano Allegri and – whisper it quietly – Jose Mourinho without a club at present, wasting time on an undeliverable objective under Emery could be pointless even if next season brings relative success.
The key to title glory is a title-winning boss. And the quickest way for Arsenal to reach that goal would be ridding themselves of Emery as they stumble towards a top-four position in favour of a more proven winner.
Although, an early Emery dismissal would have to be the product of poor results – and suddenly Gunners fans may find themselves aching to find Shkodran Mustafi on the teamsheet next season.