Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery further cemented his legacy as the undisputed king of the Europa League after his Villarreal side beat Manchester United to win the competition last night.
That’s now four Europa League trophies for the Spaniard – more than any other manager in the history of the competition. He deserves a ton of credit for doing what he has done over the years, but the fact that he couldn’t lift the crown at Arsenal hurts to this day.
Emery’s Gunners came ever so close in 2019, but Chelsea battered us in the final. That, arguably, was the start of his downfall at the Emirates, but the Villarreal boss has now surprisingly claimed that the loss in Baku helped him beat Manchester United last night.
Unai Emery: Losing with Arsenal helped me win the Europa League with Villarreal
He said, as per The Metro: “I believe it’s not sporting revenge at all. I try to enjoy every moment, winning and losing. I try to create new circumstances. So, everywhere I have been, even in England at Arsenal, I have learnt a lot, met many people, other cultures and football.
“At the end of that story was professional frustration, but some other doors opened then. Winning today is a satisfaction, but for my club today, as it was when I was at Sevilla.
“When I was at Arsenal, we played a Europa League final and could not win. But it is a process, from that game I learnt a lot to win this one (against Manchester United) maybe.”
The Insider’s View:
You can’t help but be happy for Emery after last night. He beat the odds to get past Arsenal in the semi-final and did the same again to beat a Manchester United side who were tipped by many to batter Villarreal in Gdansk.
That result in Baku hurts to this day but it just wasn’t meant to be. We now know that the loss in 2019 was just as painful to Emery as it was for us, and the fact that he used lessons from that game to come back and win shows his mentality.
Emery was ridiculed by the media for his failures at Arsenal. People completely wrote him off as a manager, but after what happened against United last night, it’s time to put some respect on his name.