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Unai Emery takes Aston Villa job following Steven Gerrard exit

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By Martin Graham | 26th Oct 2022

Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has returned to the Premier League as Aston Villa’s new manager after the Midlands club sacked Steven Gerrard over the weekend.

The Spaniard, who rejected the chance to join Newcastle United after their acquisition by the Saudi Arabia-backed consortium, will leave current club Villarreal and the league where he cut his teeth as an elite European manager to take over the Aston Villa dugout on November 1.

After leaving Arsenal in 2020, Emery led the Yellow Submarine to UEFA Europa League glory and in the following season, led to the UEFA Champions League semi-final. However, he has started this season on a poor note and rumours were beginning to fly around in Spain about the safety of his job at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Steven Gerrard was unable to build on his strong start to life at Villa Park when he joined them from Rangers in the middle of last season. A unanimous decision was reached last week for the former Liverpool midfielder to step aside for the club to bring in an experienced hand to save their season.

Emery, however, will be facing a tough start to his second life in England as Vmhis first two matches will see Villa take on Manchester United in the Premier League and in the Carabao Cup, before facing Brighton and Hove Albion in the league.

The 50-year-old will give a farewell press conference to Villarreal on Tuesday before travelling to England to make his new role official. He will be bringing his wealth of European experience to a club who were once revered on the European stage.

Reactions have poured in over the Spanish manager’s appointment as Villa manager. Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said: “I think it would be a fantastic appointment. I’m a huge fan of Unai Emery. He’s had a lot of success with teams just below the elite, almost fighting against the biggest clubs.

“It didn’t go quite so well with him at Arsenal but if you look what he did at Villarreal – Europa League winners and you look at how far they pushed Liverpool in the Champions League. He was brilliant at Valencia, always getting them into the Champions League places.

“I don’t think he’s the type of manager for Barcelona and Real Madrid – and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way – but for a Valencia and an Aston Villa and for clubs who are trying to compete against teams who have more money, he gets his teams really organised and he’s a super coach.

“Maybe not for the biggest names on the planet but, for Aston Villa right now, I think he’d be a great appointment.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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