‘I’m more ready now’: Unai Emery prepared for Aston Villa challenge | AstonVilla

younai Emery didn’t know it at the time but watching Peaky Blinders when he arrived at Arsenal to help him learn English he was already taking steps to feel at home at AstonVilla four years later. Emery grinned when reminded of the admission in an ornate drawing room overlooking the grounds of Villa Park on Friday, in the city that is home to the crime drama. “I’m also ambitious and prefer to use hard sets to improve,” he says. “I think I can understand the history of Birmingham better with these films.”

Emery was sacked by Arsenal after 18 months as he finished fifth and with a 55% win rate. Emery insists the English top flight haven’t changed too much since leaving in November 2019 but are better prepared to face the Premier League, having enjoyed further success with Villarreal. “They’re the best coaches here, they’re the best players here, and I think the pace is unbelievable,” Emery said. “Football moves so fast, changes a lot, and we also have to be able [to adapt] so fast… and I think now I’m more ready than the first time.

Emery started work at Villa’s training ground on Wednesday and his first game is at home against Manchester United on Sunday.

He’s watched every Villa game this season to get an idea of ​​what he needs to improve on and has made it clear he thinks the team is underperforming. Villa have won one of their last six matches and are three points off the bottom. “I’m only watching to get information from them, from each player, but really I want to start now and the message is a new message: maybe the position is going to be different and I want to use every training session to m ‘to improve, to test, to extract information from them,’ Emery explains.

How does the challenge of steering Villa out of the relegation zone compare to his previous spells at Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal? “It’s bolder, if you will, but you accept a challenge based on the experiences you have,” he says. “It really draws me in and it draws me in to test myself and push myself as far as I can.”

Unai Emery believes the Aston Villa side have been underperforming and wants to improve them in training. Photography: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC/Getty Images

Villa moved quickly to sign Emery on a four-and-a-half-year deal and believe they have attracted one of the best managers in the world. Christian Purslow, the chief executive, has repeatedly cited Emery’s background and reputation as a serial winner – Emery won the Europa League four times (three with Sevilla and one with Villarreal) and led Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title – but the club’s hierarchy have also been won over by the fact that he has managed outside the top flight.

Emery’s decision to leave Villarreal came as a surprise in some quarters, but he couldn’t resist the lure of the Premier League and Villa’s restoration in Europe. Purslow suggested Emery was the club’s most important signing since being promoted in 2019. Villa have not lifted a trophy since winning the Intertoto Cup in 2001, but Emery insists the addition to the silver cabinet is part of the project. “My dream is to win a trophy with Aston Villa,” he said. “My second dream, my goal, will be to play in Europe.”

Both Villa and Emery recognize the value of the extended World Cup break in helping him hone his methods, get “the engine” running at full throttle, but he also recognizes the need to get down to business. “I think Villa is something special: it’s an amazing story, the fans we have are amazing, the stadium is a special stadium,” he said.

“I played here 10 years ago with Valencia and I was really impressed with the atmosphere here, and it was a friendly game. My decision about Aston Villa is that I think I can progress and reach a level ahead thinking that they are proud of the history they have and try to do something important again.

Emery, who named former Liverpool manager Pako Ayestarán as his assistant, celebrated his 51st birthday on Thursday but has suspended all celebrations – until at least Sunday.

Villa summer signing Diego Carlos is a long-time absentee with a broken Achilles but Boubacar Kamara is closing in on fitness after a knee ligament injury and could feature.

“My birthday will be Sunday if we win,” he said. “If we win against Manchester United, I’m going to enjoy it after this game. [On Thursday] I haven’t had time to reply to many messages.