FOR someone who supposedly speaks little English, Unai Emery made more than a decent fist of communicating positively in his first news conference as Arsenal head coach. The latter distinction is an important one as it confirms a key break with the past following the departure of Arsene Wenger.

No longer will an omnipotent manager with responsibility for all aspects of life at the club run the show. Instead, at a time when the UK government seems predisposed to curbing devolution, Arsenal are doing the exact opposite.

It is a carefully thought-out decentralisation strategy that has been favoured at the highest echelons at the club for some time. Wenger, for all that his farewell tugged at the heartstrings, undoubtedly possessed too much power to the detriment of the Gunners’ overall flexibility.

The Frenchman was the ultimate, in- charge football manager but was also a pioneer when it came to sports science and the use of specialist doctors. I have heard from many an Arsenal player of their initial scepticism of this in Wenger’s early years, only to be won over.

But times have changed and so has Arsenal’s vision. Specialisation has taken over in modern club football. Rather than embodying the “strong manager” so beloved in British football circles, including, of course, Scotland, Emery will have a specific job to coach a team that is frankly in need of coaching. Others can worry about the minutiae of transfer policy, squad construction and youth development.

Those others are head of football relations, Raul Sanllehi, contract negotiator, Huss Fahmy, and maybe the most significant addition from last season, head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat. A talent spotter with an eye for a player, Mislintat deservedly received credit for a string of astute acquisitions at Borussia Dortmund, only to fall out spectacularly with former coach Thomas Tuchel (just installed as Paris Saint-Germain’s new head coach). Arsenal will be relying on Mislintat’s proven ability to get wine out of apparent water.

It is not difficult to identify the author of the new book of Arsenal. It has chief executive Ivan Gazidis written all over it. I first met the affable and thoughtful Gazidis when he was a senior figure in Major League Soccer more then two decades ago. There is a move here towards a more continental model and a fresh start. You can see why Unai Emery proved an attractive option to Gazidis and the board.

In a previous assignment at Sevilla, Emery won three Europa League crowns working closely with arguably the most revered sporting director in the game, Monchi. Arsenal will hope that familiarity and comfort with this kind of set-up will be to their benefit.

I have heard many voices calling it a bad, even risky appointment. Quite where this line of thinking comes from is beyond me. Arsenal, the sixth best team in England, are not in a position to attract someone at the very top of the coaching tree. Besides that, who, apart from Pep Guardiola, or the now retired Jupp Heynckes, actually fits that description in the modern club game?

On the contrary, Gazidis and co have done well to land Emery, whose work speaks for itself. The man from the Spanish Basque region joked that he prefers winning games 5-4 to 1-0. I have always seen him as more pragmatic than that, beginning with his early days at Almeria, and it may be no bad thing for an Arsenal side in need of considerable tightening up.

The likeable Emery made a confident start last week. The scrutiny will be fierce in comparison with what he experienced at PSG, but something tells me the 46-year-old will take it all in his stride.

IN less than three weeks, it will be the topic on everyone’s lips. I could be talking about the opening of the 2018 World Cup but actually, in this case, it is the battle to host the 2026 tournament. Wednesday, June 13 is decision day and as usual when it comes to the politics of Fifa, it is impossible to predict the outcome.

It should be pointed out that the rules are a bit different this time. Rather than the “elite” executive committee being handed the voting reins, the electorate will comprise the 211 members of the Fifa Congress, minus the countries vying for host status: the USA, Mexico and Canada’s joint bid goes up against that of Morocco. Guatemala cannot vote due to a current Fifa suspension.

But there are caveats galore. First, before a vote is cast, the Fifa Council (a fancy name for a larger version of the old executive committee) will grade the bids and make their recommendation. There is a worry in the Moroccan camp this could work against them.

However, the small print shows the potential for neither bid to get the nod. There is provision for voters to plump for “none of them” which, if in the majority, would render both USA/Mexico/Canada and Morocco eliminated, opening up the process to new bids from other countries.

Anti-USA/Trump politics might be expected to play a part but Fifa political concerns tend to supersede traditional world affairs. Where the swingometer falls on June 13 remains to be seen, but this has the potential to be a cliffhanger. There is scope for plenty of manoeuvrings between now and then.