Unai Emery

Villarreal boss Unai Emery has reflected on his ‘difficult’ time at Arsenal while also addressing links to Newcastle United. 

Emery took over at Arsenal after Arsene Wenger left his position but ended up lasting for only 18 months. The Spaniard led the Gunners to a seven-game winless run in 2019 and he was shown the door by the north London side.

Speaking to the Athletic, Emery said, “It was a difficult moment for any coach coming in, to establish yourself.”

“Certain players who had been important, but were not any longer, found that difficult to understand. The fans also found it difficult to understand that there needed to be an evolution.”

First campaign

“Changes were needed, and I began those changes. The first season at Arsenal was very good,” Emery added.

“We were close to returning to the Champions League coming to the end of the season, but we were playing the Europa League final. We lost our way with all the energy we put into this final. I believe the season would have been perfect if we had qualified for the Champions League.”

English pronunciation

“In Paris, I spoke in French. In England, in English,” he said.

“Not perfect English, but I gave talks of 20 minutes and the players understood, my messages were getting through. Some people pointed to my press conferences, but for me, the language was not a barrier in England, or in France.”

“(As a player) I had (Welshman) John Toshack at Real Sociedad. He never spoke perfect Spanish and had his own pronunciation, but we took it with humour, we understood him perfectly. My English was not perfectly pronounced, but it was English like Toshack speaks Spanish. With ‘Good ebening’, I stress the ‘B’ a lot, we do that in Spanish, but it did not bother me, I liked it.”

Emery will be leading his team against Bayern Munich on Wednesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

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