New Aston Villa boss Unai Emery reveals crucial ‘first step’ and ‘ambitions’ ahead of Man Utd clash

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Seven things we learned from Unai Emery’s first interview as Aston Villa manager - including why he joined, his ‘first step’ to take, and what to expect on the pitch.

Unai Emery conducted his first interview as Aston Villa’s new manager on Thursday and there were plenty of points to take from it. The Spaniard, who has now taken a few training sessions with his new players, has already worked out what needs to be done to improve the Villans’ fortunes.

He takes over a Villa side struggling down in 16th with just 12 points gained after 13 games played. There have been only three wins and seven defeats in this period. Only Nottingham Forest, who are rock bottom of the league, have achieved worse in these particular areas.

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The last outing saw Aaron Danks’ side lose 4-0 to Newcastle United at St James’ Park, in what turned out to be his final match in interim charge. This followed a convincing 4-0 victory over Brentford a week earlier - making for quite the emotional rollercoaster for the Villa faithful.

Supporters will be hoping the new man in the dugout can establish more stability during his time at the club - and if his track record is anything to go by, this should be the case. Emery has won a record four Europa League titles and has managed in three of Europe’s top five leagues, including a spell at Paris Saint-Germain.

His first interview with Villa may have only been seven minutes long, but it revealed an awful lot about what supporters can expect. Without further ado, here are the seven main takeaways from what he said.

Personality and passion in abundance

Emery hasn’t changed too much from his days at Arsenal, with plenty of personality and passion still present. He told Villa TV: “I am a professional man and I love football. I am so happy to be here at Aston Villa because of the history and greatness of the club. In my life, football is my first objective.”

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Already has sights set on first key task

Although there are clearly plenty of wrongs to be put right at Villa, Emery has already chosen one particular area to focus on most. He said: “I want to improve the players’ confidence. I believe in them, but I know they are underperforming. Short-term, this is the first step I want to take.

“I’ve watched matches and I know they are good players but they are now underperforming - and their confidence is less than usual. I want to help them achieve their best performances during each training, in each match, and to be together.”

Emery, who is no stranger to facing players with low morale from his time at Arsenal, wants to improve confidence at Villa Park.Emery, who is no stranger to facing players with low morale from his time at Arsenal, wants to improve confidence at Villa Park.
Emery, who is no stranger to facing players with low morale from his time at Arsenal, wants to improve confidence at Villa Park. | AFP via Getty Images

Relishing thought of a new challenge

Emery has always been one for taking on ambitious tasks, and that certainly hasn’t changed as he heads to Villa Park. He continued: “I am ready because I want to achieve new challenges. Aston Villa calling me was amazing.

“The Premier League is the top league in Europe and it is a big challenge. They wish to do something important again here and they convinced me quickly. The project is a top project and above all, professionally it is a strong step ahead for me.”

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Convinced to join by Nassef Sawiris

Being lured away from Villarreal, a club in which he had achieved great success in recent years, was never going to be easy. But one man was able to convince the Spaniard. Emery said: “I didn’t know Nassef [Sawiris] before but when he called me we started [our conversation] well.

“We were speaking about his passion for football, me as a coach, and how I can help him to show my professionality and my passion. It was key - that conversation with him was to be really convinced and trust in his way. Our responsibility - him and everybody here - is going to be difficult, but I’m excited to do it.”

Nassef Sawiris, who owns 55% of Aston Villa, played a key role in bringing Emery to the club.Nassef Sawiris, who owns 55% of Aston Villa, played a key role in bringing Emery to the club.
Nassef Sawiris, who owns 55% of Aston Villa, played a key role in bringing Emery to the club. | Getty Images

Hints at what to expect on the pitch

The former Arsenal head coach didn’t give too much away as to which formation he may use, but he did hint at his favoured style of play. Emery said: “I like possession of the ball but [especially] when we can progress by being aggressive and attacking spaces with energy.

“I was watching our players in sessions and matches. We have players with good skills and energy. Between everybody, we are going to achieve our identity and style of play for every supporter. The break will help us. We will have training days to improve and to create our identity, our style.”

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Eager to build relationship with supporters

One thing that is clear to see is Emery’s desire to build a rapport with the Villa faithful as soon as possible, seemingly keen to make Villa Park somewhat of a fortress again. He said: “I want every supporter to be proud of our work and how we can show our capacity on the pitch.

“The atmosphere and playing at home is important - to be there with supporters and wishing to feel their push. I want to create a big atmosphere to help us with our football. I think we can improve Aston Villa.”

Emery has recognised the importance of the fanbase at Aston Villa.Emery has recognised the importance of the fanbase at Aston Villa.
Emery has recognised the importance of the fanbase at Aston Villa. | Getty Images

Future ambitions on hold, for now

It is of course crucial to recognise goals for the future, but Emery is keen to focus on the here and now to begin with. He continued: “Ambition is very important but ambition you can’t help thinking in the short-term. This is because in the next matches you will not win [if you focus too far ahead]. It’s going to be difficult.”

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