STEPHAN LICHTSTEINER has admitted axed Arsenal manager Unai Emery “struggled with top players”.
The Swiss full-back played under the Spaniard at the Gunners last season, helping them reach the Europa League final.
However, the 35-year-old lost his place towards the end of the campaign and he could only watch from the bench as Chelsea thumped them 4-0 in the European showpiece last May.
He left to join German outfit Augsburg in the summer, but things continued to get worse at Arsenal with his old boss getting the sack last week following the club’s worst run of form since 1992.
Despite being dropped by Emery towards the end of his year in North London, former Juventus star Lichtsteiner refuses to stick the knife into his old gaffer.
But he did have one major criticism of the ex-Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain man.
Speaking to I SPORT, Lichtsteiner said: “When a manager doesn’t play you for two months it is easy to criticise, that’s not my style.
“Over a long time it was really good, then the last two months [of the season] I didn’t really understand what had happened.
“Training was good, the team that we had last year was an amazing team, so it’s not my thing to speak bad about the coach because it is too easy now that they are struggling to say something against him.”
The seven-time Serie A winner continued: “I’d say [he is] a good trainer, a good coach, but maybe he struggled with the top players.
“With the big players, he hasn’t maybe the relationship to bring more out [of them] and get the top performances.
“Maybe that point I can say [something] negative, but the rest was almost everything positive.”
Emery most notably appeared to have an up-and-down relationship with Arsenal’s top earner Mesut Ozil throughout his time at the Emirates.
He regularly left the 2014 World Cup winner out of his matchday squad, although he recently brought him back into the fold as results begun to dwindle.
Meanwhile, the Gunners finalise their managerial shortlist by next week as they choose from a dozen candidates including interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.
And they hope to confirm a permanent appointment by the end of this month – even if it means waiting until the summer to get their man.
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Sunsport understands that Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta is the preferred option after narrowly losing out to Emery 18 months ago.
Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino are the other leading names in the frame while Max Allegri is also under consideration.
There are currently as many as 12 names under consideration to replace Unai Emery in the Emirates hot-seat.
But that list is being whittled down by the club’s four-man selection panel which is being headed by technical director Edu and also comprises Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venketesham and Huss Fahmy.
This post written by Gary Stonehouse originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.