Former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal FC manager Unai Emery gave an interview to France Football and the Spaniard had plenty to say about both clubs.
Unai Emery sans langue de bois dans France Football. Un entretien exclusif à retrouver cette semaine.
• Griezmann-Messi ⚡️
• Reportage à Brentford 🏴
• Témoignage de Wuhan 🇨🇳
Et plus encore…
— France Football (@francefootball) February 10, 2020
We’ll leave the comments about the Gunners to the 17 million Arsenal blogs and just concentrate on what Emery had to say about PSG.
One of the biggest flashpoints in Emery’s career in the French capital was the loss to FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League in 2017. PSG led 4-0 after the first leg at the Parc des Princes and proceeded to lose 6-1 at the Camp Nou to crash out of the competition in spectacular fashion.
Emery, who joined PSG in June of 2016, believes that the loss to Barcelona wouldn’t have happened if Video Assistant Referee existed.
“The first year (2017), in the Round of 16 against Barcelona, we performed at a very high level the first leg. And on the return, we are eliminated because VAR did not yet exist. We were clearly eliminated by arbitration decisions.”
“The second year, against Real Madrid, we bow to a team which signs a historic hat-trick (three Champions League titles in a row), and again, in the first leg, we could also find fault with the decisions. Conclusion: we lost the first time on arbitration decisions and the second against the defending and future champion.”
Emery is 100 percent correct here. The officiating in the deciding match against Barcelona was so bad that the referee was investigated. That year, you cannot say the better team advanced. Sorry, Barca bros.
In regards to the 5-2 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League in 2018, one of the controversial decisions in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, which PSG lost 3-1, was the omission of Thiago Silva in the starting lineup. A move that was blasted by Silva and Angel Di Maria’s wife on social media.
“I wanted the team to defend higher. Thiago Silva is a great player but I wanted him to be higher and I couldn’t get him to accept that. I wanted him to get out of his comfort zone, to dare to defend higher so that the general pressure of the team on the opponent was more effective.”
“I worked with him to make him accept this but I did not succeed. And this characteristic of Thiago Silva’s game reflected on the whole team, which under pressure, had a natural tendency to retreat. As at Camp Nou, the previous season. However, I instructed to go back up. But it was not heard…”
Emery was also asked about his relationship with club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Neymar Jr., who joined the club during the 2017 summer transfer window from Barcelona.
“I have always felt supported by President Nasser. For example, when we were about to sign Neymar, it was up to me to explain in person to ‘Ney’ that we were going to build the team around him.”
“With such a phenomenal player, you cannot tell him that there is already a team and that he will have to adapt. You have to make the team for him. Otherwise, he doesn’t come, that’s for sure. The president and the management talk about the contract. But it’s the coach who has to convince him of the game plan.”
Emery is suggesting that he was the one who convinced Neymar to sign for PSG, which I find dubious. If anything, he didn’t mess it up but make no mistake about it, Emery is not convincing any top player to sign for a club by explaining his tactics.
Emery is currently unemployed after getting sacked by Arsenal last November. However, during a recent interview, he did mention that he would be open to coaching in Spain, France, and England, but not Germany because of the language barrier.
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