Unai Emery was asked how it felt to win the Europa League four times after Villarreal’s penalty shootout triumph over Manchester United.
“A lucky man, sometimes!” Emery jokingly replied.
Ironically, the former Arsenal head coach gave an interview in the build-up to the game in which he insisted he doesn’t believe in luck.
“When people talk about luck, they tend to mean ‘that the ball hit the post.’ Well, that’s what posts are for,” Emery told ESPN.
“That’s part of the game. People mention penalties, but that’s not luck either: there’s work there, too. Or a man goes through, one on one, and hits the post. Is that luck?
“No, it’s a circumstance of the game. Luck can be the toss of a coin. In football, luck is minimal.”
Emery tried everything to make his time at Arsenal a success – and it almost was. A first European final in over a decade, finishing one point behind the Champions League qualification spot in the league and an impressive 22-game unbeaten run that saw them win 17 games.
The 49-year-old previously wrote a book called ‘Winning Mentality’ and there can be no arguments that Emery has instilled that at Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine beat Arsenal on their way to reach the final and have tactically outwitted teams with significantly bigger resources than their own.
Much has been written about Emery’s communication at Arsenal, but when he spoke to football.london in January he refuted those assumptions and insisted he did everything he could to master the English language.
“The problem in Arsenal the second year was only the results, not the language.
“I could speak English and communicate in my press conferences, with the players. The message was not perfect but it was good and little by little I was progressing. If I continued at Arsenal I would have got better, of course.
“I respected the likes of John Toshack and Howard Kendall when they came to Spain. They tried to learn Spanish and didn’t speak particularly good but the communication was enough.
“I think in England there are people who respect me rather than speaking about my English, but my English wasn’t the problem in London or communicating with the players or media.”
Emery’s Arsenal side couldn’t get past Chelsea in the 2019 Europa League final, as Eden Hazard ran riot against the Gunners in Baku.
He inherited a disjointed squad from former manager Arsene Wenger, with players who were in their comfort zone and unable to push past a certain level.
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And in his first full season at Villarreal, Emery has shown why he was not the problem at Arsenal.
Sometimes the boot doesn’t always fit, but Emery and Villarreal appear to be a match made in heaven, as the Europa League King once again shows why he is one of the most tactically astute coaches in football management.