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Ex-coach of the year? Fired Dwane Casey named finalist for NBA award

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Less than a week after being fired by the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey was named a finalist for NBA's coach of the year. 

The 61-year-old was the most successful coach in Raptors history, and Toronto rewrote the franchise record book this past regular-season, winning 59 games and earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time.

Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri told Casey his seven-year tenure with the team was over last Friday, which was the price paid for being swept by Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Utah's Quin Snyder and Boston's Brad Stevens are the other finalists.

Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's LeBron James and Anthony Davis of New Orleans are the finalists for the NBA's MVP award.

Harden, who led the league in scoring, has twice been a runner-up for the award, including last year when Russell Westbrook won. James has won the MVP award four times.

The three finalists for the individual awards were announced Wednesday. The winners will be announced on June 25 in Santa Monica, California during the NBA Awards show.

Davis was also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, along with Utah's Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia centre Joel Embiid.

The other finalists:

Rookie of the Year

Donovan Mitchell, Utah

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia

Jayson Tatum, Boston

Sixth Man

Eric Gordon, Houston

Fred VanVleet, Toronto

Lou Williams, Clippers

Most Improved Player

Clint Capela, Houston

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn

Victor Oladipo, Indiana

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5 ways Unai Emery can improve Arsenal

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LONDON — Arsenal’s new head coach will have to overcome some problems that developed both on and off the field during the final part of Arsene Wenger’s long tenure.

Unai Emery, who was hired Wednesday to replace Wenger after 22 seasons in north London, will take over a club that finished sixth in the Premier League last season — its worst showing under the French coach.

But Emery has proven himself both in domestic soccer and in Europe, winning league titles at Paris Saint-Germain and the Europa League at Sevilla. Still, he was fired by PSG after failing to deliver Champions League success to the French club.

Here are some issues Emery must address at Arsenal:

LEADERSHIP

The Arsenal teams that finished in the Premier League’s top two places for eight consecutive seasons at the turn of the millennium was packed with leaders, including players like Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams. Following a third and final title-winning campaign under Wenger in 2004, the squad gradually lost its experienced core.

Emery will look to fill that void and consider the character – as well as the quality – of the players he brings in this off-season.

CENTRAL Defence

Arsenal already needed a new central defender, and that was before captain Laurent Koscielny ruptured his Achilles tendon in the final weeks of the season.

With the France defender set to be out until the end of 2018, Emery may be in the market for two new centre backs.

Arsenal conceded only five fewer Premier League goals than Swansea and West Bromwich Albion, who were both relegated.

Shkodran Mustafi has also struggled, and while there is still hope that the youthful duo of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers can develop into first-team regulars, the pair have yet to prove they are ready.

HOLDING MIDFIELDER

One of the reasons Arsenal’s defenders have been so often exposed is the lack of protection in front of them.

During Wenger’s final two seasons in charge, he insisted on playing Granit Xhaka in a holding role, despite the Switzerland midfielder’s defensive frailties.

While Xhaka certainly has the ability to be a useful player, Emery will be looking to recruit someone with more discipline to sit at the base of his midfield.

FRONT LINE

On paper, the strongest part of Arsenal’s squad is up front. Strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both joined the club over the past 12 months for a combined total of more than 100 million pounds ($133 million).

After arriving last year, Lacazette had a mixed first Premier League campaign and was in and out of the starting lineup, eventually scoring 14 goals. Aubameyang settled in quickly after his mid-season arrival and netted an impressive 10 goals in 13 appearances. However, there was still a feeling that Arsenal wasn’t fully utilizing all of the Gabon forward’s assets, particularly his blistering pace.

Emery will attempt to avoid alienating either of the club’s major investments by finding a way to incorporate two of his most talented players into the starting lineup.

UNITY

A toxic atmosphere has surrounded the club in recent seasons, mainly because of fan opposition to Wenger.

This discontent was even felt in the team, highlighted by a divide between Alexis Sanchez and his teammates before the Chile forward departed for Manchester United.

Emery is likely to benefit from a warm welcome from the club’s fan base, but maintaining unity, both on and off the field, will be high on his list of priorities.

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Arsenal hires Emery as Wenger's successor

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LONDON — Arsenal hired Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger’s successor on Wednesday in the Premier League club’s first managerial appointment in 22 years.

The 46-year-old Spaniard will not enjoy the same authority as Wenger built up at Arsenal, being handed the title of head coach rather than manager.

Arsenal backed off from a gamble on former player Mikel Arteta, who is part of Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff at Premier League champion Manchester City. Instead, Arsenal opted for an established coach — and one who has constantly delivered trophies at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain.

“Several things stood out during his interview and the entire process; his football knowledge, energy, determination and love of the game,” Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke said. “His familiarity with our club and our players, the Premier League and the game in Europe were all very impressive. He shares our vision to move forward, to build on the platform created by Arsene Wenger and help this club enjoy greater success.”

Emery has the task of restoring Arsenal to the Champions League — and to ultimately deliver the club’s first Premier League title since 2004. But he picks up at London team at a low after finishing sixth in the league — the lowest in Wenger’s reign.

“I am thrilled to be joining one of the great clubs in the game,” Emery said. “Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I’m very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal’s history.”

Emery left PSG earlier this month after two years, a consequence of the failure to carry the dominance on the domestic stage into the Champions League. He has struggled to impose his authority on a talent-packed squad featuring Neymar.

A former midfielder with Real Sociedad, Emery coached Valencia from 2008-12 before taking charge of Sevilla in 2013, following a brief spell at Spartak Moscow.

Emery’s reputation was elevated after guiding Sevilla to three straight Europa League titles, but he couldn’t make an impact in the continent’s more illustrious competition.

PSG became the first team in the Champions League to be eliminated from the knockout stage after winning the first match 4-0, losing 6-1 at Barcelona in the return leg of the last 16 in 2017.

PSG failed to reach the quarterfinals again in Emery’s final season, beaten home and away by Real Madrid.

Arsenal, though, is sure it has a “serial winner.”

“Unai has an outstanding track record of success throughout his career, has developed some of the best young talent in Europe and plays an exciting, progressive style of football that fits Arsenal perfectly,” Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said. “His hard-working and passionate approach and his sense of values on and off the pitch make him the ideal person to take us forward.”

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The Arsenal powerbrokers: The men who Unai Emery will work alongside after taking over from Arsene Wenger

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The Arsenal powerbrokers: The men who Unai Emery will work alongside after taking over from Arsene Wenger

Glen Williams For Mailonline

Unai Emery has been announced as the man to succeed Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The 46-year-old Spaniard has agreed a three-year deal with the Gunners worth £15million, which was announced on Wednesday morning.

Emery will have to work alongside the Arsenal powerbrokers at the Emirates Stadium. Here, Sportsmail looks at the men at the top. 

Unai Emery could be unveiled as Arsene Wenger’s successor within the next 72 hours

Stan Kroenke – Owner and director

Stan Kroenke is an American businessman who began his business life by founding the Kroenke Group in 1983, which focused on real estate. It built shopping centres and apartment buildings. 

Kroenke has invested in several teams other than Arsenal, buying the St Louis Rams, the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and a series of smaller sides. 

He batted away a £1billion bid from fellow shareholder Alisher Usmanov last May to keep his 67.05 per cent stake.

In January the 70-year-old bought 22 more stakes in the club at £28,000 apiece, signalling his intent to continue buying out Usmanov.

Owner Stan Kroenke, who has a 67 per cent stake, has invested in several sports teams

Owner Stan Kroenke, who has a 67 per cent stake, has invested in several sports teams

Owner Stan Kroenke, who has a 67 per cent stake, has invested in several sports teams

Ivan Gazidis – Chief executive officer 

Ivan Gazidis was born in South Africa but moved to the UK at the age of four – residing in Manchester.

In 1994, he joined the founding management team of the MLS and moved on to become its deputy commissioner in 2001.

He became CEO at Arsenal in 2009 and is now tasked with the day-to-day running of the club. 

Chief executive officer Ivan Gazidis is tasked with the day-to-day running of the club

Chief executive officer Ivan Gazidis is tasked with the day-to-day running of the club

Chief executive officer Ivan Gazidis is tasked with the day-to-day running of the club

Josh Kroenke – Director

Josh Kroenke, as you may have guessed, is the son of Stan. The 38-year-old became a member of the board at the Emirates in 2013 having previously gained experience as president and governor of both the Colorado Nuggets basketball franchise and the Colorado Avalanche ice hockey franchise.

Both Josh and Stan are rarely seen at the Emirates, which has been a constant gripe of Arsenal fans – with some branding them ‘absent owners’.

But he is in line to succeed his father at the club and, as a board member, had a say in deciding Wenger’s successor.

Josh Kroenke (centre) is the son of owner Stan but spends most of his time in America

Josh Kroenke (centre) is the son of owner Stan but spends most of his time in America

Josh Kroenke (centre) is the son of owner Stan but spends most of his time in America

Alisher Usmanov – Second-largest shareholder

Alisher Usmanov is a metals magnate from Uzbekistan, although he has primarily been based in Russia. He was the 37th-richest person in the world in 2013 and the second richest in the UK around 2014. His fortune is estimated to be worth $15.1bn (£11.5bn).

He owns 49 per cent of USM Holdings, which works in metals, mining, telecommunications, technology and media, along with a stake in Mail.ru, which is the largest internet provider in the Russian-speaking world.

Usmanov is thought to be a close friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and is business partners with Everton owner Farhad Moshiri – who sold his shares to the Uzbek upon leaving for Goodison Park in 2016. 

He now has a 30.04 per cent – through Red and White Securities LTD – but has shown he is keen to have more influence in the club following his failed takeover bid last year.

However, he is not on the Arsenal board and has been consistently refused a seat.

Alisher Usmanov had a £1bn bid to buy more shares in the club turned down last year

Alisher Usmanov had a £1bn bid to buy more shares in the club turned down last year

Alisher Usmanov had a £1bn bid to buy more shares in the club turned down last year

Raul Sanllehi – Head of football relations

Raul Sanllehi joined Arsenal in November last year and essentially operates as a director of football, the title he worked under at the Nou Camp.

He officially started at the club in February and has undertaken big roles at huge institutions such as Nike and Barcelona. His 10-year stint at the Catalan club is testament to his expertise in the field and was a big coup for Arsenal when they recruited him.

Another thing to note is that he is a fluent Spanish speaker, which undoubtedly played a part in the recruitment of Emery. 

His main task was to close deals, getting the big signings, such as Neymar and Luis Suarez, over the line as efficiently as possible. A skill Gunners hope will come in handy this summer.

He works closely with Sven Mislinstat at Arsenal and will do so with Emery, primarily targeting players for recruitment.

Raul Sanllehi (second left) joined in November and essentially operates as a director of football

Raul Sanllehi (second left) joined in November and essentially operates as a director of football

Raul Sanllehi (second left) joined in November and essentially operates as a director of football

Sir Chips Keswick – Chairman

Sir Chips Keswick became chairman of the club in 2013, replacing Peter Hill-Wood having previously worked as a merchant banker.

He is the former chairman of Hambros Bank and a former director of the Bank of England.

The 78-year-old caused a bit of a stir back in October when he allowed Arsenal’s AGM to turn into a farce, failing to control the room and becoming belligerent when complaints were fired his way.

That night, the vast majority of shareholders in the room voted against the resolution to re-appoint him and Josh Kroenke to the board. But as 97 per cent of support from proxy votes, the pair retained their position.

He has no shares in the club but holds an important role on the board.

Sir Chips Keswick became chairman back in 2013 and holds an important role on the board

Sir Chips Keswick became chairman back in 2013 and holds an important role on the board

Sir Chips Keswick became chairman back in 2013 and holds an important role on the board

Ken Friar – Director

Ken Friar is an Arsenal stalwart, knowing the club inside out having worked there for an astonishing 72 years.

Born in Highbury, Friar got his first gig at the club in 1946 after he mis-kicked a ball under the car of then-manager George Allison. Allison offered Friar a job as a messenger on match days and he has worked at the club since.

The 83-year-old is revered by Gunners, with a statue outside the ground serving as testament to that.

He has previously worked as club secretary and managing director and played a key role in helping the club move from Highbury to the Emirates. He now sits on the board and oversees major decisions, such as Wenger’s successor.

Ken Friar (left) is an Arsenal stalwart, having worked at the club for an astonishing 72 years

Ken Friar (left) is an Arsenal stalwart, having worked at the club for an astonishing 72 years

Ken Friar (left) is an Arsenal stalwart, having worked at the club for an astonishing 72 years

Lord Harris of Peckham – Director

Lord Harris of Peckham was appointed to the Arsenal board 13 years ago. The 75-year-old took over his family-run carpet business, Carpetright, aged 15.

He sold all his shares in Carpetright in 2014 and is no longer associated with the company, allowing time for him to focus on his role at the Emirates. 

Lord Harris of Peckham was appointed to the Arsenal board 13 years ago

Lord Harris of Peckham was appointed to the Arsenal board 13 years ago

Lord Harris of Peckham was appointed to the Arsenal board 13 years ago

And who else makes up the key staff members?

Sven Mislinstat – Head of recruitment 

Arsenal brought in Sven Mislinstat as their new head of recruitment back in November in a move to try and steer the club in a new direction.

Mislinstat is credited with bringing Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa and Ousmane Dembele to Dortmund, as well as being a key player in signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the German club in January.

He will work closely Emery as well as Gazidis and oversee the club’s global scouting network in order to revolutionise the way they recruit players.

Sven Mislintat was brought in as chief scout last year as part of an overhaul at the club

Sven Mislintat was brought in as chief scout last year as part of an overhaul at the club

Sven Mislintat was brought in as chief scout last year as part of an overhaul at the club

Darren Burgess 

Darren Burgess was recruited as head of high performance last summer. He joined from Australian rules football side Port Adelaide.

Burgess oversees the club’s medical and fitness operations among a number of other responsibilities behind the scenes such as performance analysis and psychology.

Former boss Wenger is said to have hand-picked the Australian, who is a highly-regarded fitness coach. He previously worked at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish, Roy Hodgson and Brendan Rodgers before moving back Down Under.

Darren Burgess was recruited from an AFL franchise as head of high performance last summer

Darren Burgess was recruited from an AFL franchise as head of high performance last summer

Darren Burgess was recruited from an AFL franchise as head of high performance last summer

David Priestley – Head of Psychology and Personal Development

David Priestley was brought in to work on players’ mental preparation back in 2014. He joined from Premiership rugby outfit Saracens and his areas of specialty include culture, values and developing a high-performance environment. 

Priestley is responsible for providing sport psychology and personal development support to all employees — players and staff — at the club.

Players often approach Priestley to fine-tune their performance ahead of games. 

David Priestley was brought in to work on players' mental preparation back in 2014

David Priestley was brought in to work on players' mental preparation back in 2014

David Priestley was brought in to work on players’ mental preparation back in 2014

Richard Allison – Nutritionist

Richard Allison joined the club as a performance nutritionist in July last year after replacing James Collins. 

Allison previously worked for Aspetar, a private hospital in Qatar, for almost five years. 

Richard Allison joined the club as a performance nutritionist in July last year

Richard Allison joined the club as a performance nutritionist in July last year

Richard Allison joined the club as a performance nutritionist in July last year

Huss Fahmy – Contract negotiator 

Just last year Team Sky’s legal and commercial expert Huss Fahmy was added as an expert negotiator on player contracts.

Mislinstat is expected to head up a recruitment drive for the club this year and Fahmy will be the man responsible for getting the best possible deal for the Gunners in the market.

 Emery’s £5m-a-year package and Wenger’s payout were his latest sizeable tasks.

Just last year Team Sky’s legal and commercial expert Huss Fahmy (right) was added

Just last year Team Sky’s legal and commercial expert Huss Fahmy (right) was added

Just last year Team Sky’s legal and commercial expert Huss Fahmy (right) was added

 

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