Interview

‘Europa League is a chance we can’t sniff at’

Unai Emery

Unai Emery has set his sights on winning the Europa League again.

The 47-year-old is the most successful coach in the competition’s history with three titles and, even though he would prefer for us to be playing in the Champions League, he sees the Europa League as an opportunity to build his project in north London.
 
"The first thing is the foundation,” Emery said. “When I was coaching in Spain there was the chance to play in the Champions League or the Europa League.
 
“The teams that have the possibility to win the Champions League are Real Madrid, Barcelona… by winning the Europa League, Atletico Madrid were able to take the next step and compete to win the Champions League, and indeed they played two finals.
 
“At Sevilla we didn’t have the chance to go on and compete to win the Champions League but we could compete to win the Europa League again. It’s about saying, ‘Where can we get to and perform as best we can? There. Let’s go then’.
 
“You have to focus exclusively and with great confidence on that possibility. Once you see that you can do it and you’re making progress, the team motivates itself because it’s a title and a European one at that.

“When you have the ability to compete in the Champions League - I had that in Spain with Valencia and then with Sevilla - but if you’re not a contender to win it or it’s more difficult to take that last step, the Europa League is always a place where you can express yourself and show what you can do.
 
“When I joined Arsenal, I joined an Arsenal team competing in the Europa League. That’s not the place the club wants to be, but it’s still an opportunity so we can’t sniff at it. We want to play in the Champions League because this club needs to play in the Champions League, but we need to understand that right now circumstances have meant that that’s more difficult for Arsenal.
 
“We want to get back there and that’s the requirement. The whole club and us internally need to be aware of that. That’s what we want, but to get there we need to get back to doing things that perhaps, that for whatever reasons, we weren’t doing in recent years."