During Steven Gerrard’s final weeks and possibly months, one reason for not sacking the former Rangers boss was that fans didn’t believe we could attract a better manager. I never think that is a reason to keep an existing manager. The pull of the Premier League is massive and I am sure nobody thought Everton would attract Carlo Ancelotti in 2019.
Following the sacking of Gerrard names such as Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino was being linked with Villa with some fans and pundits stating they wouldn’t attract a high-profile manager. Just how wrong could they have been?
Most of you will know by now (and if you don’t, where have you been?) that Aston Villa announced the appointment of Unai Emery as their new manager yesterday evening.
The Spaniard will take over from November 1st once work permit formalities are completed.
The 50-year-old is a highly experienced coach who has managed over 900 games during spells at clubs such as Seville, Paris Saint Germain, Arsenal and most recently Villareal.
Between 2013-2016 he made the Europa League his own with three successive titles with Seville before going on to life the Ligue 1 championship in France two French Cups, two French League Cups and two Trophée des Champions.
One thing that would have interested the Villa hierarchy would be Emery’s love of the 4-2-3-1 formation. A system many believe will get the best of the players Villa have at their exposal.
His teams generally attack through their central midfielders with a double pivot often used. Much like the one Aaron Danks used in Villa’s 4-0 win over Brentford on Sunday.
One issue Villa has had since their promotion is when they dominate possession. They seem to lack ideas like our 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest a few weeks back. Another strength of Emery is his ability to use the 4-2-3-1 system as a counter-attacking option or even switch to a 4-4-2 system when dominating. At Sevilla, he exposed the wings which may benefit the likes of Leon Bailey.
Emery’s teams generally apply an aggressive press in an attempt to minimise spaces between the lines. A high defensive line approach allows his teams to play with the ball and defend further away from their own goal.
Emery has had success in England, Spain and France so this is quite the statement from the Villa’s owners who are said to have been very upset about Gerrard’s time at Villa Park.
Being a Villa supporter, you can’t help but be worried still. Good things don’t seem to happen to us but I strongly believe this is up there with the best appointments the club has ever made (certainly in my lifetime). As supporters, we need to fully get behind Unai Emery and the team.
I just hope it works out for us. You certainly can’t accuse the owners of not being all in. Once again, Thanks Nassef and Wes!