Interview

'We have to be calm, be patient but be ambitious'

Unai Emery

Unai Emery faced the media on Friday as he reflected on his first season as our head coach.

The Spaniard was asked about our Europa League campaign, our domestic form and more. Read on for a full transcript:

on reaching the Europa League final...
Yes, we are pleased for playing in the final against Chelsea, and yesterday we enjoyed the match. It was a good atmosphere, good teams and taking a big performance collectively and individually and also we wanted to do something important in the Europa League and we now have a possibility to do that. The final against Chelsea is another important step in our way this year.

on the importance of being in next season's Champions League...
We are here to give the club one step more in the Premier League and the possibility of playing in Champions League, but it is one process and we need  to do this progress, improving and taking our idea and creating it for the future. This progress is to be in the Champions League but we know the Premier League is very difficult, you have six very strong teams for this possibility and last week we had the possibility in the third or fourth positions but we [drew] and we have the Europa League now to do that. We need now in the last two matches of the season to be calm, be patient, be ambitious but also playing in our way.

on our recent Premier League form...
It is about being consistent for 38 matches. We lost the first two games after we improved in the table, we were sixth but our progress was to give us the possibility to be in the top four, in third or fourth, but in the last matches it is the circumstances. Sometimes the circumstances can come to you, and the last two matches at home for example, against Crystal Palace we lost but a lot of matches like that before we won. But circumstances of the match, our mistakes came with goals against us and also they had a very good team. Against Brighton at home, we made a lot of chances to score and to win the match but we drew. These six points are the points we lost, but the same manner we won against other teams playing the same matches. Away, we need to continue to improve because I think we improved some things but not for our possibility to e stronger in the table and take away more points and be more consistent and be in the top four.

on searching for consistency...
I think we have improved, we are being consistent in a lot of moments of the moment, for example yesterday in the Europa League and in the last rounds, against Napoli and Valencia, we played and were consistent. In the league we were consistent in a lot of matches at home, and started away and won at Cardiff, won at Newcastle after we drew some matches away but generally we have improved but it's not at the moment to take more points in the table. Also, other teams like Chelsea, and mostly Liverpool and Manchester City are in this moment stronger than us, but our target in our process is to be closer than this and we are doing work last week and our progress is continuing. Our aim is to be consistent in this way.

on Auba and Laca’s partnership…
Yes, we are very pleased with them and also their work defensively. We are one team offensively and defensively, that’s our spirit. Sometimes they gave some very good attacking performances, but that’s because the team decided to play like that. To be there creating chances and to be there in the attack third, and sometimes we’re stronger defensively. I want to not lose our capacity with these players offensively, but with our idea and game plan we want to be stronger defensively. Maybe for me it’s easier for me to prepare defensively stronger and can say to us we are defensively a good team, yes, but offensively we lose something. This is the balance, but above all we are one team defensively and we are creating a lot of moments in the attacking third.

on the importance of ending the season with a win…
We are fifth in the table and our target is that. We going to play Burnley not with the possibility of getting into top four, but it’s one to keep the fifth position and we are going to fight against Manchester United now. It’s going to be a difficult match but for us it’s a big challenge playing Burnley away. They are having a good season and last year they played in the Europa League. For us it’s one step more in our progress and our process. Also, yesterday night we arrived very late so there are going to be some players who are tired and some players with problems to play Sunday, but we are going to play with the players who have been hungry to play, win and keep this fifth position.

on whether he will make some changes for Sunday’s game…
We were very late yesterday. We arrived at 6am and today we cancelled training for today because it’s important to rest. Tomorrow we are going to prepare for Sunday’s match but I am going to decide with the players who are hungry and in good physical condition to play this match.

on Burnley’s physical approach…
We struggled a lot here against them. I remember this match and I watched it two weeks ago when they drew with Chelsea. It was a very tough match against Chelsea and I’m expecting the same on Sunday in Burnley. We are going to play with the idea of imposing our gameplan, our capacity and our team against them. We know it’s going to be a difficult match with long balls, second actions and set-pieces, so we need to defend well in these situations.

on how he reflects on his first season…
Before the [Valencia] match they asked me if you lose tomorrow… but I was thinking no. I am thinking every time in the present and positive. We want to be calm and passionate in our progress because we want to be in the Champions League and we want to take the [Europa League] title - but we need to create a strong structure and a strong mentality to be ready in difficult moments so we can be together. I’m very proud of the players for the last two rounds and also before because we needed to come back in two results against BATE Borisov and Rennes, and that’s not easy. After we played two strong matches with our mentality, spirit and being together. We managed the moments in different games and it’s the same in the Premier League. We struggled sometimes but overall I think we are improving and we are doing one process with taking confidence and our best performance, individually and collectively. We are not in the possibility to be in the top four, but we were very close to the other teams and I think we can be happy for our progress. Not very happy, but happy.

on what’s next…
Next season is the same. We need to improve one step more in our process.

on the title race…
I think they are both playing with different ideas, but they’re both doing very well. They’ve had some big performances from big players and they both deserve to win! We want to be closer to them, but we know at the moment they are better than us.

Fixtures

International Champions Cup
Ticket Info
International Champions Cup
Ticket Info

Results

International Champions Cup
Friendly Match