Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has made this bold ‘possibility’ claim about Newcastle United and Manchester United.
Unai Emery has pinpointed Newcastle United’s Carabao Cup Final win against Manchester United as the moment he realised Aston Villa qualifying for Europe was a genuine possibility.
For many, it wasn’t even considered an option for this season given the awful Premier League start the Villans had under Steven Gerrard and it was only in the last few games when it looked feasible.
For Emery, however, the realisation came far earlier than that as his optimism and ambition shined through to the Villa squad.
The former Arsenal head coach is a serial winner of European competitions and was determined to guide the Villans to their first tour of the continent since 2010/11 at the first time of asking, no matter how much the odds were stacked against them.
“We were first speaking about how the seventh position is a possibility to play in Europe when Newcastle won the Carabao Cup,” Emery revealed.
“They are in the Champions League as well which means seventh place is Europe – okay, we thought. We started thinking our operation was going well and some teams were not being consistent. When we won at Chelsea, 2-0, we leapfrogged them for 10th position.
“We were in 11th position for a long time. It was the most difficult step ahead for us going up. After it, we were in the top 10 and we started thinking [about] the possibility of getting the seventh position or the sixth position.
“But, of course, Brighton did a very great season and they deserve to be in the Europa League. Our position as well, we deserve it,” Emery continued with pride.
Villa pulled off what many thought would be impossible by qualifying for the Europa Conference League play-off round and it took plenty of hard work to get there.
The win that secured seventh, against Brighton & Hove Albion on the final day, was a perfect example as Villa dug in for a hard-fought 2-1 victory.