Unai Emery is insisting English is spoken in the Arsenal dressing room – even though he is struggling with the language himself.
New Gunners boss Emery is refusing to use an interpreter to help him communicate after setting himself an ambitious target of being fluent by Christmas.
The Spaniard does have an interpreter at press conferences in case he gets stuck and a full-time English teacher with him at the training ground, but wants to speak English to the British media out of respect and his own determination to learn quickly.
Emery will talk to players in their own languages during one-on-one conversations but believes it is important to speak in the tongue of the country where he’s working and fears using an interpreter will slow down his progress, even if it does make some press conferences and team-talks difficult.
Regular observers say Emery has his own favourite English word — “protagonist”, which is close to “protagonista”, a term used in Spanish football in reference to something being important or a player being the key man.
The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach is also determined that Arsenal will take the Europa League — which he won three times with the La Liga club — seriously this season as they strive to regain Champions League status.
Predecessor Arsene Wenger rotated players between games during a gruelling campaign last season that got to the competition’s semis before defeat to eventual winners Atletico Madrid.
But Emery, who begins the group campaign at home to little-known Ukrainian outfit Vorskla on Thursday night, hinted he will field full-strength teams both at Newcastle on Saturday and then in the European tie.
“After the Champions League, the Europa League is the most important competition. If teams cannot play in the Champions League, it is very important," he said.
“I have proven with my experience to know the best way to manage the players. Now it is very important for me to think first the match against Newcastle, we need to win the three points, and then think the same for the Europa League.
“My idea first isn’t to change 11 players for one competition and the next competition. Each match is giving us information for how we can play.
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“Now I want to win Saturday, I want to win Thursday, next Sunday [at home to Everton ], and against Brentford in the Carabao Cup [the following Wednesday]. It is the reason we are looking forward to playing every match and thinking every match about the best performance.
“I think each match if we can find the best performance with the first XI but with different players on the pitch.
“I am looking behind me on the bench for players who can also stay in the first XI and it will be a good moment, because we will be more competitive for each match.”
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