LONDON • Arsenal appointed former Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery as their new boss yesterday, handing him the daunting task of revitalising a side who have slipped well behind their Premier League rivals.
The Spaniard, who signed off at French champions PSG with a domestic treble, emerged as the shock favourite to replace Arsene Wenger earlier this week after it had appeared that former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta was a shoo-in to land the job.
Wenger departed at the end of the season following a 22-year reign, with the club finishing sixth in the league - 37 points behind champions Manchester City - and failing to qualify for the Champions League for a second straight term.
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis yesterday insisted at the club's press conference that the decision to appoint the former Sevilla boss had been unanimous.
"I'm not looking backwards now we're opening a new chapter in the history book of Arsenal. Our first club motto was 'Forward' and it's time for us to look forward," he said.
"We (the board) interviewed Unai in May. A formal recommendation was supported by a 100-page dossier and all of the members were energised by our decision."
"His teams improve over time. He's a superb fit for the criteria I laid out. He has a feeling and competitive energy, and it is this passion and will to win that made us feel it as exactly right for Arsenal.
Unai Emery's record against Pep Guardiola (drew 4, lost 6) and Jose Mourinho (drew 1, lost 4).
"We believe our players will respond to Unai's energy. They will improve their game and, if they embrace those challenges, they can be successful. Sixth place is not good enough and we need to improve."
The Gunners' majority owner Stan Kroenke echoed Gazidis' thoughts, saying: "He's a proven winner. We're confident that he is the right person for the job, and that he will work to deliver the triumphs our fans, staff and everyone who cares about Arsenal want.
" He shares our vision to move forward, to build on the platform created by Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success."
Emery was equally enthused at being given the opportunity to fill Wenger's shoes at the Emirates.
"It's a great challenge (to be at Arsenal). In my career every year, I grow up with a new challenge," he told reporters in English.
"This is a big project and I am proud to be here and to work after Wenger. Success this season would be developing but how? By battling for every title. That's in my history and Arsenal's, and I want it to continue. I want to be among the best teams in Europe."
He vowed to uphold Arsenal's attacking ethos, but called for a collective work ethic when off the ball - something which the team are often criticised for.
"The history here is they love to play with possession and I like this personality. When we don't have the ball, I want a squad to play with intensive pressure. Two important things are positioning and pressing," the 46-year-old added.
Emery, who won three Europa Leagues in a row with Sevilla, also referenced his poor record against fellow managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, saying that "in terms of my past experience, it has made me stronger today".
Local fans will get an early glimpse of Emery's Gunners, who will be playing his former club PSG in the International Champions Cup Singapore tournament on July 28 at the National Stadium.