Unai Emery, the Arsenal head coach, has revealed that he likes to “provoke friction” with his players to challenge them into providing more for the team.
Emery believes that this friction can create a “greater sense of ambition” in a player and help to push them to improve their performances. The Spaniard’s comments come as he continues to pose a clear challenge to Mesut Ozil, the club’s highest earner, who has been left on the sidelines in recent weeks.
Ozil was not even included in the match-day squad for Saturday’s defeat by West Ham United, and has played only 155 minutes of Premier League football since mid-November. Emery’s comments were not directly about Ozil, but they certainly suggest that he has been trying to provoke the German into a reaction on and off the pitch.
“At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers,” Emery told Sky Sports. “From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside, a greater sense of ambition or maybe even a complaint. A complaint regarding the team can be positive.
“As a manager, you have to be careful because that friction can break a relationship. But I believe in always looking for more, both individually and collectively, with conversations which are comfortable but also with conversations which are less comfortable.