Unai Emery once picked his starting eleven at Almeria by rolling dice, after they achieved promotion to La Liga.
Every matchday, fans spend the hour from the release of the lineups to the start of the game trying to figure out why the manager chose the team he picked. The supporters guess at formations, which super subs the boss plans to bring off the bench, and whether he selected a particular player for a specific reason.
Any Almeria fans who tried to do the same with Unai Emery’s side at the start of 2007/08 were wasting their time, because he later admitted he picked the team based on nothing more than the roll of a dice.
“I wanted to show them that I didn’t care who was going to play,” Emery told So Foot. “It didn’t really matter which players were on the pitch, because we were going to win anyway. I was that confident.”
Felipe Melo later confirmed the story to the Independent, saying: “That’s true. He really did that.”
It ended up working perfectly, as Almeria beat Deportivo La Coruna 3-0 on the opening weekend, away from home. The stunt just goes to show the kind of belief Emery builds in his squad when they all listen to him and take his ideas on board.
It takes time, but eventually you should be able to get the team to a point where you could swap out most individuals without a massive drop in performances. That’s the position Manchester City have already managed to achieve, for example, where star men like Kevin De Bruyne sit on the bench and they tear opponents apart anyway.
Hopefully Emery can get Arsenal to the same point in the coming seasons.