As of the 18th of October 2021, Villareal Head Coach Unai Emery is considered to be one of the top contenders for the Newcastle United Manager position should the club hierarchy decide to terminate Steve Bruce’s contract who is under intense scrutiny following the clubs poor start to the season (and for some fans, just being at the club).

Emery was born in 1971 and spent most of his playing career in Spain’s Segunda Division as a midfielder. When he hung up his playing boots in 2004 after a serious knee injury whilst playing for Lorca, he became the club’s manager and during his first season at the club he achieved promotion to the Segunda Division beating top of the table Malaga in the Copa del Ray on the way. Following his success at the club, he was awarded the Miguel Munoz trophy for being the coach of the season.

During his second season at the club, he guided his team to 5th position and 69 points. This was the clubs first ever time in the second division.

At the end of the 2005-06 season, Unai moved to Almeria who were in Division Two. He duplicated his success and guided them to their first ever promotion at the end of the 2007 season. In 2008, following their first season in La Liga they finished 8th.

Valencia was Unai’s next port of call as managerfor the 2008-09 season. During his first season in charge, he led them to a 6th place finish which subsequently qualified them for the UEFA Europa League which the team reached the Round of the Last 32 before they were knocked out on Aggregate to Dynamo Kiev. They also reached the Quarter Finals of the Copa del Ray where they were knocked out by Sevilla. The following 2009-10 season saw the club finish 3rd and qualify for the UEFA Champions League after a two-year gap.

After the club was dropped down to the Europa League (previously known as the UEFA Cup), they lost on away goals to Athletico Madrid in the Quarter Finals who eventually went on to win the tournament. In May 2010, Unai extended his contract for another 12months. The 2010-11 campaign got off to a good start for the club despite star players David Silva and David Villa being sold to Manchester City and Barcelona.

The club once more reached the knockout stages of the Champions League before exiting in the Round of 16 by German side Shalke and reached the same stage of the Copa del Ray Cup before being knocked out by Villareal. On the domestic side of the game, the club finished 3rd so once again qualified for the Champions League. In what would turn out to be Unai’s final season at the club, the 2011-12 season saw his side put with Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen and Genk in the group stages of the Champions League.

They subsequently came third in the group and entered the Europa League. They reached the Semi Finals of the campaign before getting knocked out to eventual Winners AthleticoMadrid. He left the club at the end of the season after guaranteeing them another season in the Champions League with a 3rd placed finish.

May 2012, Emery was announced as Coach for Russian side Spartak Moscow for two seasons. This was short livedas just 6 months later he was dismissed after a poor run of results. His last game for the club being a home derby game where they were well beaten 1-5 against Dynamo Moscow.

Just two months later, Unai returned to Spain as manager of Sevillain January 2013 where he won an unprecedented Three consecutive Europa Leagues.

His success at Sevilla caught the attention of the Paris Saint Germain hierarchy and he signed as manager on a two-year deal with an optional third. During his time at PSG, he won the Ligue 1 title, two Coupe De France titles and two Tropheedes Champions which included a deserved domestic treble in his second season at the club. Emery left the club at the end of his second season in 2018.

Unai was appointed Arsenal’s new manager at the start of the 2018-19 season replacing club icon Arsene Wenger on a two-year deal with once more an option to extend for a further year. His first season as the English club saw them finish as Europa League Runners up, losing in the final to fellow Premier League and London Rivals Chelsea 4-1 and finishing 5th in the Premier League which meant they narrowly missed out on a Champions League spot.

November 2019 proved to be the end of Unai at Arsenal as he was dismissed after a run of 7 games without a win. Freddie Ljunberg was announced as his temporary replacement before Mikel Arteta was eventually announced as permanent boss.

Only 7 months followed before Emery was appointed as Villareal manager in July 2020 on a 3-year deal. A club record was broke on the 23rd December after he managed the club to a excellent 18 matches unbeaten following a 1-1 draw at home to Athletic Bilbao.

The following July, Villarreal competed in their first European Cup final after they completed a 2-1 victory on aggregate over former club Arsenal. Villarreal went on to win the Europa League Final against fellow EPL rivals Manchester United on penalties. This was Emery’s fourth Europa League winner’s medal.

Currently Emery’s managerial record stands at,

Games Played: 866

Games Won: 461

Games Drawn: 195

Games Lost: 210

Win Percentage: 53.2

Should Unai become manager at Newcastle, it will be interesting to see how the Spaniard does as he has managed World Superstars at his previous clubs. There is one player that Emery will know well should he join the Magpies, that player being of course Joe Willock. Joe was very highly thought of by Unai and he stated that Willock’s progression was better than others at his age.

Will he join the club or is it just another name being mentioned for the sake of it? Only time will tell.

JACK SUTTON – @jsnufctruefaith