19 May 2023

Manager of the season contender Unai Emery ‘trying to improve every day’

19 May 2023

Unai Emery said he has plenty more to offer as Aston Villa boss after being nominated for the Premier League manager of the season award.

Emery has overseen an impressive transformation at Villa Park since replacing Steven Gerrard in October last year, lifting them from fifth-bottom to the brink of European football next season.

The 51-year-old Spaniard is on a six-man shortlist for the managerial award, alongside Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi, Newcastle’s Eddie Howe and Fulham boss Marco Silva.

When asked about his nomination, Emery told a press conference: “We want to take some trophies or be respected for our work, but I’m trying to be focused every day on getting better and trying to improve.

“Our way here has only just started and I’ve only been here for 10 per cent of the time I want to be here, trying to improve, trying to build a strong project and get our objectives. For now, I’m proud of everybody here.”

Villa have won 14 and lost only six of his 26 top-flight games in charge and remain in contention for the final Europa League spot.

Emery, a four-time Europa League winner as manager with Sevilla (three times) and Villarreal, and also a runner-up with Arsenal, is renowned for an intense approach to his work.

He said: “I always try to enjoy my work, and I do enjoy it every day. I feel passion for my work.

“When we are playing and facing big challenges every week, every month, every year, you have to be very focused and spend a lot of time on getting the best results possible.

“When I can have two days off, I enjoy it and I’m trying to take my mind out of my work – not completely, but I enjoy doing different things.

“When I am focused here, preparing the training sessions, preparing for matches, trying to complete our work, of course I am spending a lot of hours here.”

Villa are level on points with seventh-placed Tottenham, who occupy the Europa Conference League berth, after last week’s 2-1 win against the Londoners and play at Champions League hopefuls Liverpool on Saturday.

Emery said he was relishing the challenge at Anfield, adding: “They have very high-level players and a good bench to use in the second half, and they also have a very good coach in (Jurgen) Klopp.

“The crowd there are supporting them a lot. That is what we are going to face. I want to play against them, preparing the match and taking our moments.

“We want to be successful, more than them in 90 minutes. That is the difficulty we are going to face. We need to be clinical.”

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