Villareal Coach, Unai Emery, has said he does not nurse any revenge intentions against Manchester United to compensate for his past difficulties with Arsenal.
History beckons on Villareal as they contest a major European final when Emery’s team go up against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils this night at Gdansk.
A good portion of the media focuses on Emery’s previous work at Arsenal ahead of the Europa League final. The coach was often ridiculed by English football fans and sections of the media during his time in London with the Gunners.
Having defeated his old club in the semi-finals, Villareal ended their European drought. The Yellow Submarine had been eliminated in each of their previous four semi-finals, UEFA Cup/Europa League semis in 2004, 2011 and 2016 and the Champions League final four in 2006.
Emery guided Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 before he was sacked by the Gunners in November that year and was replaced by fellow Spaniard Mikel Arteta.
Notably, since the competition’s rebranding in 2009-10, Emery has reached the Europa League final on more occasions than any other head coach. He has been at the finals five times: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2021. He has won the trophy on three of the previous four occasions he has reached the showpiece while at Sevilla.
He insisted that inasmuch as his eyes are on the trophy tonight with Villareal, his desire to win has no English revenge undertone.
“Not at all,” he told reporters when asked whether “revenge” was on the cards. “I feel an obligation to Villarreal, this badge, this club, this president.
“I am proud to be able to defend this Villarreal project. There is no revenge with the English teams or people. I am proud to play in this final defending Villarreal’s colours.”
Responding to Diego Forlan’s interview where Forlan tipped Manchester United as Cup favourites due to ‘history and experience’, Emery said, “We cannot escape reality. A few months ago, we said Man United were among the favourites for the competition.
“Now we are in the same situation, but we are firm candidates for this title and play against the favourites.
“They have good players, history and experience, but we have a very strong recent history to deserve these moments.”
Azuka Edokobi is a Writer , a Farmer, a Supply Chain Expert and an Entrepreneur
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