There is a lot of debate currently over the start Unai Emery has made to his Arsenal career. The Spaniard has lost his first two matches to Man City and Chelsea and was criticised in the wake of the City defeat by Sam Allardyce for trying to play out from the back against City.
Appearing on Talksport, Big Sam laid the blame at Emery's door for the defeat, arguing that it was the newly installed Arsenal boss's fault that they lost against Pep Guardiola's men:
Don’t ask somebody to do against Man City what you shouldn’t do. You shouldn’t play out like that against Manchester City. What do Manchester City do? They press, press, press so why do you try and play out when they press, press, press? Even the Arsenal crowd cheered when Cech dropped one in the opposition’s half.
We are getting obsessed with this stupid ‘let’s play out from the back, split the centre halves either side of the 18-yard box and go and play from there’… it’s utter rubbish to play like that all of the time. When you’re the best at it then you can do it.
During Sky Sports' coverage of Crystal Palace versus Liverpool on Monday Night Football, Neville launched a staunch rebuttal of Allardyce's claims:
I saw Sam Allardyce’s comments on the radio after the first game, where he talked about ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that’, but Unai Emery is only five to six weeks in. He’s not trying to avoid relegation, he’s trying to build a team and with a style to win the title, not lump it long and get in behind.
Allardyce responded to Neville's point on Thursday's Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, having a go at the pundit's assessment of his own football knowledge:
Gary thinks he’s an expert in the field, as you well know.
Let me say this: I’ve managed seven Premier League clubs and over 1000 games – do you think I’m entitled to my opinion? I think so.
So like I said, Gary is Gary, and in the end he thinks he’s always right, that’s probably the reason why he said it. But at the end of the day, people ask me for my opinion and I say what I see, I always give my honest opinion.
He talks about me having to win five games to save a club from relegation, I never got five or six weeks. If I don’t get a result in five weeks, the club I take over is relegated – so I have to do it in days.
Allardyce went on to say that in his experience he has to convince players and achieve results immediately and that Neville was wrong in what he said.
Though Emery was given the difficult task of facing two top six rivals in his opening two games, it will be interesting to see over the coming weeks if the former PSG coach sticks to his guns, and indeed, if he manages to produce some results.