It seems like Unai Emery’s departure is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, though the coach is set to remain in charge for now.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal gives his team instructions during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Southampton FC at Emirates Stadium on November 23, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 23: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal gives his team instructions during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Southampton FC at Emirates Stadium on November 23, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

As we covered yesterday, David Ornstein tweeted that Unai Emery is set to be on the touchline for Arsenal’s match against Frankfurt on Thursday, despite huge fan unrest and terrible results recently.

Speaking to The Athletic’s The Ornstein and Chapman Podcast, however, the former BBC man did suggest things are starting to reach their breaking point now, and it seems like it might be just a matter of time.

It’s pretty obvious that things are very very delicate at the moment,” Ornstein told the podcast, which is free to listen to here. “The Arsenal hierarchy’s intention was to review this in the summer and put their backing – certainly publicly – behind Unai Emery.

“Whether that’s going to change will just come down to results now. Things are clearly on the pitch – and to a certain extent off the pitch – spiralling out of control. It could get to a point obviously where they feel they have to make a change.

“It looks like now it’s a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ and it will come down to results.

“They could have been clear and said ‘it’s not going to be a matter of results, we’re going to stick by him until the end of the season’, those aren’t the messages coming out of the club.”

Despite those comments, Ornstein was still clear that at the time of recording the podcast, the feeling was very much that Emery will still be taking charge of the team on Thursday.

GUIMARAES, PORTUGAL – NOVEMBER 06: Unai Emery, Manager of Arsenal gives his team instructions during the UEFA Europa League group F match between Vitoria Guimaraes and Arsenal FC at Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques on November 06, 2019, in Guimaraes, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Obviously, there are two sides to any change in manager. One is getting rid of the current person in charge, but more importantly the other is finding a good replacement.

Ornstein stopped short of suggesting he knows for a fact that Arsenal have been speaking to alternative candidates, but he admitted his personal opinion is that they will be now.

“I think it’s fair to assume, as an opinion – and it’s been reported as fact elsewhere – that Arsenal are looking at candidates to replace him if they are to get rid of him,” Ornstein continued.

“That would be sensible for any club in this situation and I’m sure most clubs are doing it a lot of the time.

“The mood music coming from Emery’s side is that he’s ‘fighting’, he believes he’s got the backing of the club, but you’ve only got the backing of the club for as long as they back you. You can go from being fully backed to being out of the job, we’ve seen before.”

It’s certainly starting to feel like the tone of the noise coming out of Arsenal is shifting, with good reason. There’s no way the club could continue to run with the same lines they’ve used before after such a poor run of results.

As for who those alternative candidates to take over might be, we rounded up the three big names linked with the job in our article this week.