No Excuses: Unai Emery Arrives to Help Aston Villa Find Their Character

Champions League Football GIF by UEFA - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Brentford, Newcastle and Unai Emery

The eagle-eyed among you will notice, there was no GBU after winning against Brentford. Well, now you know why…

The Good

The win against Brentford was a nice distraction from the current Aston Villa predicament, wasn’t it?

Fast, pacy attacks, players being competent, and most of all, playing in a position that looked to suit them.

If only they could start like that more than once a season.

Before we go on to the bad of the game that followed, this game shows that there is enough quality in this squad to get Villa moving up the table, it will just take someone to weave all the parts into a tougher fabric.

Enter Mr Emery

Villan of the Week – Unai Emery

A bit of a token gesture, just in case it is a slow start and he never gets awarded Villan of the Week!

If you look at cold, hard, facts, Unai Emery is probably the coach a board in the position of Aston Villa would target. Considering how swiftly the appointment happened, it’s ‘go’ time.

Steven Gerrard said he wanted a ‘No Excuses’ culture for the players. Unai Emery represents a ‘No Excuses’ culture for the whole football club.

There’s no more apprentice manager in training and no prior relationships with old teammates. This is as close to a clean slate as Aston Villa can have.

The remaining coaching staff of Neil Cutler and Aaron Danks have left the club (although Danks has been offered a role), so the only leftover from the Dean Smith era is set-piece coach Austin MacPhee…

Emery’s arrival, with new coaches, new methods and undoubtedly more experience than either of his predecessors, feels like the last roll of the dice on the current iteration of Aston Villa.

Good luck, Mr Emery.

The Bad

It wasn’t a good time to play the PIF-backed Newcastle United, but that’s no excuse, as it could be something Villa fans will be saying for years to come.

They are riding a wave of progress that has taken them from winless and bottom of the league to every football writer and pundit’s second team.

This sticks in the throat not just because of the humanitarian issues of the regime that back them, but on the pitch, it really rubs salt in teams like Aston Villa, who should be in a similar position if their house was in order.

Villa had a head start on Newcastle, at stages last season their points advantage was in double digits, and then it all came crashing down.

Newcastle have spent a lot of money, but more importantly, they spent it wisely. They didn’t go out and buy the player equivalent of sports cars when heavy lifting was needed. They bought industrial machinery in Dan Byrne, Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood.

Interestingly, the Manager they wanted for the role, has just rocked up at Villa Park. You can only see this as a good sign, but it is also ironic considering the fortunes of the two teams since Emery turned Newcastle down.

It will surely be mentioned in the press if things at Villa get off to a bad start.

33% off Villa shirts below!

The Ugly

The performance against Newcastle wasn’t anything new, and that’s the ugly problem facing Unai Emery.

The core group of players have shown under two different managers, that they have no answer to a team playing with momentum.

It’s all well and good dispatching a Brentford team who forgot to turn up for the first 15 minutes, but the real test comes when a team is on fire against you.

You need to stay alive in games like this and wait for your opportunity.

The hope is Unai Emery, who masterminded aggregate victories against Juventus and Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League, can show the players how to stay competitive when they go a goal down.

It’s been a constant source of frustration for fans, as Villa concede unanswered goals.

No matter how well things are going for Villa, when one opposition goal goes in, they are vulnerable to more.

The fatal blow to the Dean Smith tenure was the collapse against Wolves, when leading by two goals and this is something that resurfaced under Gerrard.

At home, against an awful Leeds side, they let a two-goal lead slip to draw 3-3. Tottenham fired four goals past them despite Villa dominating the first half.

Manchester City, of course, won the Premier League by scoring three times in little over five minutes, and you could argue Gerrard’s Villa were still tarnished by that debacle as the new season began.

Unai Emery’s main task is letting the players know that a collapse like this is unacceptable. You can’t simply move on to the next week and forget about the last 30 minutes of a match.

If he can cut that out and have the team being competitive in every game, then results will follow. This Villa team were competitive with Manchester City for a whole game, so there is no excuse for folding like a cheap deck chair against Fulham and Newcastle.

The Unai Emery era feels like Aston Villa’s last chance, and that is an ugly situatio

n for a new manager to arrive in.


Follow Phil on Twitter here – @prsgame

Phil appears in the latest episode of the podcast below