Wednesday evening sees Villarreal face Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
It’s a big deal for the Spanish side, who have a budget far below that of others in the competition. Last season, they managed to win the Europa League, beating Manchester United on penalties in the final, and Unai Emery’s team are currently seventh in La Liga.
The manager has been speaking to L’Equipe, and during his chat with the French newspaper, his periods in charge of Arsenal and PSG came into the conversation.
It’s clear Emery is happier at Villarreal than he was with Arsenal or the French club, and part of that is because he can more fully concentrate on the football, rather than everything else that goes with a bigger club.
Asked what it’s like to work with a budget several times smaller than either the Gunners or PSG, Emery said: “The budget is important to have the best players but there are things that you can overcome with hard work. You have to create something else as a team, create a mentality and look for the details in the preparation. Against a team that is normally better, we will be dominated for seventy or eighty minutes but there will remain 15 or 20% of the match during which you will have chances and that is what we will work on.
“I impose the same demands on myself here as in Seville, at PSG or Arsenal. What changes here is that there is less ‘noise’ outside! At the same time, the noise, if you go out, you will hear it. If you don’t go out, you don’t hear it. In the clubs where I worked and where there was a lot of noise, I always tried to keep the door closed.”
L’Equipe wanted to know exactly what Emery meant by the ‘noise’, and he explained: “Things that bother the team. Agents, family, journalists, social networks… Criticism of players, the team, the coach… It destabilises the club. You have to protect yourself from it and that’s why I isolate myself with my staff and my team. In Villarreal, there is less noise than at PSG or Arsenal, where everything took on another dimension. Afterwards, when I lose a match, whether with Valencia, Sevilla or PSG, the next day, it’s the same: I put myself in my hole and I try to find out why I lost.”
Despite the off-pitch issues, Emery still insists his time in charge of PSG and Arsenal was ‘positive’, and not something he regrets.