Unai Emery joined Villarreal in 2020 and led the club to Europa League glory and the Champions League semi-finals; Spaniard previously had a spell in charge of Arsenal and turned down Newcastle last year; Aston Villa sacked Steven Gerrard last week
Unai Emery insists the opportunity to become the new head coach of Aston Villa was too good to turn down.
The former Arsenal boss will officially start work at Villa Park on November 1, once he has finalised a work permit, after agreeing to leave Villarreal.
He had spent two years with the Yellow Submarine, winning the Europa League in 2021, but could not pass up the opportunity to succeed Steven Gerrard at Villa.
He told a final press conference in Spain: “Here I have felt something of heart again, but the profession is within me.
“This one, I have considered that I had to take it, as a sports challenge, as a different project.
“It is a personal and professional decision. I left home at the age of 24 and opened myself up to the professional world of football with all the consequences.”
Emery joins Villa with the club 15th in the Premier League after they sacked Gerrard last week.
Caretaker Aaron Danks guided the side to a 4-0 win over Brentford on Sunday and is due to be in charge again for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle.
Emery rejected a move to St James’ Park last year as he wanted to continue Villarreal’s Champions League journey.
Prior to moving to the Premier League, Emery won a Ligue 1 title with Paris Saint-Germain, as well as two French Cups and two French League Cups. He also won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla which, combined with the fourth he won with Villarreal, makes him the most successful manager in the history of the competition.
Gerrard’s exit came 11 months after he moved to Villa Park from Rangers, where he led the side to their first Scottish league title in 10 years.
But the former England captain was unable to replicate that success south of the border, winning just 13 of his 40 matches in charge before being sacked immediately after Villa’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham on Thursday.
Carra: Emery fantastic for Villa, he’s a super coach
Jamie Carragher speaking on Monday Night Football shortly before Emery was appointed:
“I think it would be a fantastic appointment. I’m a huge fan of Unai Emery. He’s had a lot of success with teams just below the elite, almost fighting against the biggest clubs.
“It didn’t go quite so well with him at Arsenal but if you look what he did at Villarreal – Europa League winners and you look at how far they pushed Liverpool in the Champions League. He was brilliant at Valencia, always getting them into the Champions League places.
“I don’t think he’s the type of manager for Barcelona and Real Madrid – and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way – but for a Valencia and an Aston Villa and for clubs who are trying to compete against teams who have more money, he gets his teams really organised and he’s a super coach.
“Maybe not for the biggest names on the planet but, for Aston Villa right now, I think he’d be a great appointment.”
Lambert: Emery brilliant | He’ll stabilise Villa
Former Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert, who managed the club from 2012 to 2015, believes Emery will stabilise the current squad but must be backed in the upcoming transfer windows.
“I think Villa had to appoint him quickly, their league position suggests it’s a little bit of hot water there at the minute,” Lambert told.
“But he’s a brilliant manager, no matter what you say. I know he had a little sticky time at Arsenal, but what he’s done in Europe has been phenomenal really, so he’s a good, experienced manager.
“I think it’s huge for the club because there’s a big expectancy level at Aston Villa. The fans demand success and if you don’t get it and you don’t win games, you know exactly what’s going to happen to you.
“He knows the game, he’s not a novice, and he’s won big European titles. I think he’s a good manager, but again you’re going to have to look at the players to get you results.
“I think he’ll stabilise the squad, but the club has to help him by eventually strengthening it.”
‘Emery has unfinished business in Premier League’
European football expert Kevin Hatchard told Sky Sports News:
“You look at Emery’s situation with Villarreal and what he did last season. He was able to get them to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Before that, he won the Europa League.
“I don’t think he was ready to go last season when he was linked with Newcastle, but I think now there’s a feeling that he’s taken Villarreal as far as he can and he has unfinished business in the Premier League.
“He’s a great coach and if you look at his experience, his CV is tremendous.”