EPL

Aston Villa-bound Emery was his 'best version' at Villarreal

By Sports Desk October 25, 2022

New Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery thanked Villarreal for allowing him to show his "best version" during two years with the Yellow Submarine.

Villa confirmed Emery as Steven Gerrard's successor on Monday, with the Basque coach set to formally take the reins on November 1.

Gerrard was sacked straight after last Thursday's chastening 3-0 Premier League defeat at Fulham, which left them with just nine points from 11 matches.

Emery's appointment sees him return to the Premier League after previously succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and spending 18 months with the Gunners before being dismissed in November 2019.

He joined Villarreal eight months later and enjoyed just over two years at Estadio de la Ceramica, leading them to Europa League success in 2021 – the fourth of his career, a record – and the Champions League semi-finals earlier this year.

Speaking at a farewell press conference on Tuesday, Emery paid tribute to Villarreal for giving him the backing and resources to be his best self.

"Here I have been very me," he told reporters in an emotional address.

"They gave me the conditions to be my best version of me, [but] you have to continue having challenges.

"In Villarreal I've had a home. I called Fernando [Roig, club president] on Friday to tell him the situation, that I wanted to play the game on Sunday and then on Monday to meet again.

"[On Monday] everything was unleashed. I called Fernando only when there was already something more serious going on."

On his move, Emery added: "It is a professional and personal decision.

"I always carry my baggage, with many complicated and beautiful moments. Here I found a very important family and I have felt something of heart again.

"But the profession is within me. I felt I had to take this option. It's a different challenge, but professionally a very good one."

First-team coach Aaron Danks took charge of Villa's 4-0 win over Brentford on Sunday and will remain at the helm for Saturday's trip to Newcastle United.

Emery's time at Villa will begin with back-to-back matches against Manchester United, first hosting them in the Premier League on November 6 before going to Old Trafford four days later in the EFL Cup.

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