Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Aston Villa: Lavish praise for Unai Emery with only two world-class managers better; pundit has ‘already booked hotel’ for European final

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery

A pundit has heaped big praise on Aston Villa boss Unai Emery, insisting only two world-renowned managers are better placed to help the club win a trophy.

Emery joined Villa in November last year following the sacking of Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool legend had been axed shortly after Villa’s humiliating 3-0 defeat to Fulham, which extended their dire form to six losses in 11 Premier League games.

Villa supporters and rival fans alike were intrigued to see how Emery would get on at Villa Park. He possessed great pedigree, having helped Sevilla to three Europa League titles and also won the competition with Villarreal. But Emery’s spell in charge of Arsenal, which saw him follow Arsene Wenger in the Emirates hot seat, did not go to plan.

The Spaniard has exceeded expectations at Villa, helping them to go on an unbelievable charge up the Prem table and ultimately finish in seventh place last season. This has seen them qualify for next season’s Europa Conference League, which will be the first time they have played in Europe since 2010-11.

Emery has received some big praise for the job he has done in the West Midlands. On July 15, talkSPORT pundit Rory Jennings named Emery as the third best coach in the English top flight, behind only Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. And on Sunday, Robbie Fowler suggested Liverpool replace Klopp with Emery when the German moves on.

Stan Collymore has now become the latest pundit to sing the praises of the 51-year-old. In his column for CaughtOffside, the former striker has explained how Emery is in the top three when it comes to potentially helping Villa win the Europa Conference League. And he is so confident that he claims he is prepared to book his hotel now, ready for the Villans to reach the final.

‘He’s gunning for a European trophy and, with the exception of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, I genuinely don’t believe there is a more qualified manager out there to lead Villa to their first European title since 1982 than Emery,’ Collymore wrote. ‘Having won the Europa League four times with Sevilla, it’s obvious that the man is made for the European stage.

‘The players he has brought in look like really good signings too. He’s a great man-manager and appears to have the whole squad gelling well together. The cream always rises to the top.

Unai Emery showing Steven Gerrard up, says Stan Collymore

‘Emery is the exact opposite of Steven Gerrard; a manager who talks the talk but is now managing in Saudi Arabia – I rest my case.

‘In fact, I rate Emery so highly that I’ll let everyone into a little secret, I have already booked my accommodation in Athens for the weekend of the Europa Conference League final. That’s how confident I am that Emery will take Aston Villa the whole way.’

Collymore is clearly being ambitious when stating that Villa are pretty much guaranteed to reach the ECL final. However, it would not be a surprise if Villa challenge for a top six finish again next season after the great campaign they had in 2022-23. And they will be hoping to go far in the ECL too as they are one of the biggest sides in the competition, alongside Fiorentina, Lille and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Meanwhile, Villa are reportedly ‘pushing’ to replace a current attacker with a Barcelona ace.