Unai Emery is regarded as one of Europe’s best coaches and his stock has skyrocketed following Villarreal’s shocking progression to the last four of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of Bayern Munich.
The 50-year-old has managed some of the biggest clubs in the world during his 18-year career as a manager, after humble beginnings in Spain.
It’s a journey that saw him lead Lorca Deportiva, Almeria, Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal for his current Villarreal side.
So how much silverware has the Basque coach achieved at club level?
- Zero trophies won – one promotion
Unai Emery began his managerial career with Lorca Deportiva, having been offered the job as head coach at the now-defunct club in the wake of a serious knee injury in his final days of playing.
Despite Emery not winning any silverware there, it would go on to achieve great success in the Iberian Peninsula and be promoted to the second tier of Spanish football after finishing fourth in Segunda División B Group 4.
He narrowly missed promotion to La Liga in the next campaign to Levante, before moving on to new pastures.
- Zero trophies won – one promotion
In the 2006–07 Segunda División, Emery led Rojiblancos to second place for the first time in the club’s history and subsequent promotion to La Liga. He handled the transition to top football with minimal fuss, taking his side to eighth place in their debut season.
- Zero trophies won
Emery’s propensity to outdo would always get him up the football ladder, with Spanish giants Valencia next in line for the cultured manager’s appointment in 2008.
Despite deep-seated financial difficulties in Mestalla in his first season, the Spanish coach took sixth place, securing his qualification to the first play-off round of the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League.
In 2009/10 his star-studded side, with David Villa and David Silva, claimed Champions League qualification after finishing the league campaign in third place. In the Europa League, Emery’s men also reached the quarter-finals of the competition before being knocked out by Atletico Madrid, who won the trophy.
Villa x Silva x Mata
That side of Valencia in 2010 was a lot of fun!
All with Unai Emery at the helm. pic.twitter.com/1EEKlasGWk
— Soccer on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) Nov 13, 2019
In his last two seasons with Valencia, Emery qualified for the Champions League and claimed two more third places in La Liga. In 2011/12, his side finished third in their UEFA Champions League group and fell to the knockout stages of the Europa League. Emery came close to winning his first European silverware, but was denied in the semi-final by Atletico Madrid, who won 5-2 in aggregate.
After signing a two-year contract, Emery’s short stay in the Russian capital was prematurely terminated after six months due to poor form. A 5-1 thrashing by local rivals Dynamo Moscow in November proved to be his last game for Spartak.
- Won three trophies – Europa League (2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16)
Unai Emery cemented his reputation as a specialist on the European stage, winning the Europa League in each of his three seasons as Sevilla manager.
In 2013/14 Sevilla finished fifth in La Liga. However, they provided silverware by beating Benfica 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw in Turin to win the Europa League.
Los Hispalenses finished fifth again in La Liga the following campaign, reaching their second Europa League final in a row, beating Borussia Monchengladbach, Villarreal, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Fiorentina along the way.
In Warsaw, Sevilla defeated Ukrainian opposition Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and finished as a 3-2 winner thanks to a goal by Grzegorz Krychowiak and a double by Carlos Bacca.
In addition, they would earn the right to play in the Champions League group stage, despite not achieving it through their domestic league. This was due to a rule change by UEFA, which allowed the winners of the UEFA Europa League from 2014-15 to play in the UEFA Champions League the following season.
In his final season with the club, Sevilla’s league form slumped, resulting in a seventh-place finish for Unai Emery’s outfit. But don’t worry, the Andalusians mustered the strength to win the Europa League for a third ongoing campaign.
Sevilla dropped out of the Champions League and entered the Europa League. It passed Molde, Basel, Athetic Bilbao and Shaktar Donetsk to push themselves one draw from another title on the continental stage.
Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp got in the way, but was pushed aside by a confident display from the Spaniards, with goals from Kevin Gameiro and a double from Coke sending the trophy back to southern Spain.
Paris Saint Germain
- Seven trophies won: Ligue 1 (2017/18), Coupe de France (2016/17, 2017/18), Coupe De La Ligue (2016/17, 2017/18), Trophee des Champions (2016, 2017)
Emery was appointed by Paris Saint-Germain in July 2016, taking over from predecessor Laurent Blanc on a two-year contract. His spell in France brought much domestic success. However, he did not make the impression he would have wanted on the European stage.
In its first competitive game with the club in 2016/17, PSG won the Trophee des Champions when they defeated Lyon 4-1 in the one-off match. The victories of Coupe De La Ligue and Coupe De France followed against Monaco and Angers respectively. Nevertheless, there was to be humiliated in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League.
Domestically, Emery’s Parisians lost the competition by eight points to AS Monaco, while they were knocked out by Barcelona in the Champions League at Camp Nou. PSG led 4-0 from the first leg, but were eventually eliminated 6-5 after a 6-1 loss in Spain.
Four trophies would come to the Parc De Princes in the 2017/18 campaign. Most importantly, PSG recaptured their title after the end of the year with 13 points ahead of AS Monaco this time. Emery also led his side to Coupe De France success, beating Les Herbiers VF 2-0 in the 2017-18 final.
PSG also successfully defended their Coupe De La Ligue title, sidelined by AS Monaco in a 3-0 win after goals from Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria. However, they crashed out of the Champions League to Real Madrid because they lost both legs.
Emery added the Trophee des Champions back to his collection in 2017, beating familiar foes AS Monaco in the curtain raiser 2-1.
- Zero trophies won – Europa League finalists
Emery had an unlucky spell at Arsenal and never quite got the pinch of the green to be quantified as a success on the course.
In his only full season with the club, Emery led Arsenal to within one point of the top four in the Premier League. In the domestic cup competitions, the Gunners were sent into the FA Cup and EFL Cup by Manchester United and Tottenham in the fourth round and the quarter-finals.
The Spaniard also took Arsenal to the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League final, where they capitulated to Chelsea’s 4-1 in Azerbaijan.
In November 2019, Emery was sacked after seven games without a win in all competitions. He would soon be replaced by Mikel Arteta, who won the FA Cup with Emery’s former side later that season.
- Won one trophy – Europa League (2020/21)
In July 2020, Unai Emery was appointed as Villarreal manager and returned to Spanish football.
In the 2020/21 season, the Yellow Submarine boss led his team to seventh in La Liga, as well as the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, where they were defeated by Levante.
Once again, the Europa League proved to be Emery’s saving grace as his unlikely Villarreal side defeated Arsenal and Manchester United in the semi-final and final on penalties to claim his fourth installment of the trophy as manager.
Fast-forward to 2021/22 and he looks like he’s finally ready for a tilt in Champions League glory. Seventh in the Spanish top division and out of the Copa del Rey, Emery has led his side to the last four of the European competition, where they will face Liverpool for a place in the 2022 final.
Real Madrid or Manchester City await the winners in the final. Can Emery lead Villarreal to one of the greatest Champions League shocks of all time and win the trophy? He will certainly hope to overestimate expectations again.
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