Press conference

‘Xhaka is devastated, sad and very down’

Unai Emery says that Granit Xhaka is “devastated” about the situation that took place in Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace.

This is what Emery said in Tuesday’s press conference at London Colney:

on how Xhaka is after the events of Sunday...
Good afternoon. It's not easy for him and for the team. He is now devastated, devastated and sad. We spoke yesterday and on Sunday night I also spoke. This morning, he trained as normal with the group but he is devastated and he is sad about the situation. His commitment with the club is a great commitment every time. He wants to help. His behaviour was perfect in training, with the group and with the club. He knows he was wrong. He was wrong and he feels it inside very deeply. But that is normal as a human. You need – and every player needs - the supporters' support. Support them, support the team. We spoke and I spoke a lot with him also about that. We need to learn and when we are having good matches and good moments, they applaud us and we are happy. But when we are in one difficult moment or we are receiving some criticism, we need to also be strong and to know and to learn to play under that pressure. It's our work, it's our job and the supporters, they are the most important in our life. Because if there aren't supporters, there aren't fans and there aren't people behind us, there is no reason to play professional football without our fans. Now, he is down. He is down and the most important thing now is that we look after him, his family. Look after him, the club, the team and also recover our best Granit Xhaka. After that wrong situation on Sunday, I have one challenge every time, for myself and also for the team and every and each player. When the supporters - our followers - are unhappy with us because maybe now we need to play, now we need to control the matches better and improve things to be stronger, we need them. But first it's for us and we need to take one step ahead. Individual circumstances like Sunday, they are coming because as a team we need to improve and we need to be more comfortable and transmit to the supporters and show better performances and the results for them. When we will do that, they are going to support us collectively and individually. 

on if he thinks Xhaka should have apologised...
Yes. I think when we make individual mistakes, we need to make apologies for the circumstances. I prefer to do that. We suggest to him to do it.
 
on if he expects an apology to follow...
But now, what is the response we are seeing? It's that he is devastated and he is very down. First is to recover him, his feelings. We need our family, our friends, our supporters to support us, like us. Love us, everybody. He is not feeling that with the supporters. But we are speaking with him to first be calm and be close with his family and be close with us because we are your family too. Be close and we are going to try to be close with our supporters and this is a step, little-by-little, towards that in this moment.
 
on if he is still the right person to be the captain of Arsenal...
I explained why I decided that. He has the values, he has the respect in the dressing room, he has experience and he is captain of his national team. He has the conditions to be the captain. I decided that and the players respect that. He was wrong on Sunday and he also got wrong the response on Sunday, as a captain. 
 
on if that means Xhaka is still the captain of Arsenal...
We need to go step-by-step, step-by-step. First is to recover him, as a human, as a player. And then we are going to continue speaking about how we can improve, how we can continue in that way with him, with the team and with everybody.

on suggesting that means he won’t be captain…
No, no, no - at the moment, I am not speaking and I don’t want to speak about that. The first is for him to recover. We cannot anticipate the circumstance because I we are going to play a match on Wednesday, on Saturday and I prefer to keep moving, taking each step, and taking the best decision possible.

on whether this will affect him mentally…
Now he is upset, devastated and sad. It is not only yesterday and today. He is feeling the supporters don’t like him. It is one example. Two weeks ago, I met with 100 supporters at Emirates Stadium and we had one small dinner and one small connection with them, me and Edu. One question there was, ‘Why is Xhaka captain’ and individually he said to me he thinks Xhaka must be more as a player. It is one criticism. I answered him, in response, and we finished that conversation. Afterwards, he came and said to me, ‘I defend Xhaka and I like Xhaka’. If if in 100 people, one is negative on Xhaka then that is positive. Yesterday morning I was saying the same to Xhaka. Sometimes people love us, sometimes people don’t love us. We have positive and negative criticism and people can support us or not. It is the same that we are thinking in all the supporters, on Sunday, after his mistake not every supporter was against him in that moment. It is also because the team is not winning and also they are also in this moment only thinking he is not playing a good match. Each match, each moment is different. We need to be calm and to try to be consistent and and change that individual situation.

on whether he has been fined by the club…
I think we can again speak about the same, we are in the first step after his mistake. Now is for him to recover as a person.

on whether it will affect his future here…
We can maybe remind some similar situations in the past for players, and they came back. For example, I was speaking with Hector Bellerin and he said to me that he received some criticism three years ago at Emirates Stadium in one moment because people weren’t happy with his performance and then he came back. The most important is to keep moving ahead , working, improving and showing and transmitting to people that if one moment they don’t like him, to work to change that situation. I don’t know not today how it will be in the future, the most important for me is the present, with the future tomorrow. Tomorrow, for example, he is not in the group but I wasn’t thinking for him for that match [anyway] and he stays here and trains and we are going to let him recover as a person because he is down and then think about the team.

on how difficult it is for players to deal with criticism on social media…
We are aware now how our situation is. The first thing now is to achieve again emotional balance in us, confidence, and we need to use each match to do one step looking for that confidence, a good result, playing as good as we can. I know we aren’t really so bad, we aren’t really so good, we are in the moment where we can go ahead and it is very important to be together and to add positive spirit to achieve confidence. The most important is to find [a way] to play better and that is the consequence if we win, to achieve the points. Keep moving ahead every day, using every day to achieve confidence in training, playing because we are playing tomorrow, Saturday, next Wednesday and then Saturday. We can show we can do better, we can get the best way to achieve the points.