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Emery’s sacking was in the pipeline for weeks – Arsenal director Josh Kroenke

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke admits Unai Emery’s sacking had been in the pipeline for “weeks”.

Emery was relieved of his duties on Friday morning following a run of seven games without a win.

The 48-year-old had lost the backing of Arsenal’s hierarchy after a number of supporters had already turned on the head coach.

He was replaced by Freddie Ljungberg, who takes charge on a part-time basis, after head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham had travelled to the United States to talk to Kroenke and his father, Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke.

“Like all of our fans and supporters around the globe, we’ve been concerned about our recent string of performances,” Josh Kroenke told Arsenal’s website.

“We wanted to support Unai and his staff until we decided it was time to make a change and ultimately we came to that decision over the last several weeks as a group between myself, Raul, Vinai and (technical director) Edu.”

Kroenke praised Emery’s work ethic but insisted the change was made in the hope of reaching their goals for the campaign with Ljungberg at the helm.

“Very difficult,” he replied, when asked how hard the decision to sack Emery had been.

“First and foremost Unai is a good man, someone that we all respect very much. His work ethic on a daily basis between him and his staff was fantastic.

“Ultimately we started to fall short of several goals that we set. We still feel that we can achieve those goals this season, which is why we decided to make the change now.”

Ljungberg has only been placed in interim charge but Kroenke believes he can help turn things around at the Emirates Stadium.

“First and foremost, Freddie has Arsenal DNA,” he added.

Ljungberg will take temporary charge of Arsenal having worked as an assistant to Emery.

Ljungberg will take temporary charge of Arsenal having worked as an assistant to Emery (Nick Potts/PA)

“Obviously he was a player here for a number of years, the supporters know him very well and he’s worked diligently behind the scenes for the past several years, including the last year-and-a-half or so with Arsenal again.

“So it’s been great to have him around, he knows the club’s DNA and we feel he is the right person in the moment to take the club forward.

“My message to Freddie and the players was let’s get back to basics and most importantly let’s get back to having some fun.

“I think footballers are at their best when I see smiles on their faces and going out there and winning matches. That’s a winning formula to me.”