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Football: Stadiums and Managers; the Circus Goes On

The dismissal of Unai Emery as manager of Arsenal comes as no surprise. Despite the fact the club seemed to see him as the one to take them forward he never seemed to be the right ‘fit’ at the Emirates. But then, can any manager (or head coach, if you prefer) be that much-desired ‘fit’?

Jose Mourinho never really seemed to be ‘right’ at Manchester United, although he did very well for Chelsea, twice, and time will tell if it works for him at Tottenham. It may well do as he has arrived at the club probably at the best time, with the new stadium now established and a squad that might still be lacking in some respects but if nothing else, Mourinho knows what it takes to win something. One can be reasonably sure of two things; Tottenham will indeed win a trophy very soon and having done so, Mourinho will then be sacked sometime after that.

Unai Emery (Amir Hosseini)

What of ‘Spur’s previous manager, Mauricio Pottechino? Having made his name at Southampton, his appointment in North London was a good one and the Argentinian did well. His credentials as a coach have indeed been burnished by his time at both clubs – so where did it go wrong for him? Pochettino’s problem was the same one that Arsene Wenger and subsequently Unai Emery encountered just across town. The two clubs built big new stadiums and the financial fallout hindered both. Would Arsenal have been better off remaining at Highbury? Possibly, but there is little doubt that the Gunner’s former home was past its sell-by date and the same applied to White Hart Lane. Arsenal did not move very far; its only 477.93 metres or 1,568.02 feet from the centre-spot of what was Highbury’s playing surface to the same point at the Emirates. Tottenham moved even less distance as the club owned most of the land around the old ground and earned a sizeable income from rents paid by the businesses that occupied some of that land. All they did was shift the stadium a little way north, essentially on the same site. By comparison, West Ham United moved a greater distance from their old ground at Upton Park; its 2.45 miles between the two (Manchester City went 2.65 miles from Maine Road to the Etihad).

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur still had to relocate businesses already on the two sites and pay the costs of that in addition to the huge amounts paid for actually designing and building the new stadiums (unlike West Ham and Manchester City) – and herein lies at least part of the key; both new stadiums are not only big but also architecturally striking in design. One could almost say that both are statements of the two clubs; ‘Look at us! We are big! We are important!