Unai Emery – The Interview

As most of you all know we had the pleasure of sending Unai Emery a few questions to answer via his communication staff a few weeks ago.  Below you will find the Q&A session:

The international break seemed to come at just the right time for our injured players.  How do you spend these breaks? Do you get a chance to get away with your family, or are you still working with the squad? Do you watch any of the international games and if so is it for enjoyment or are you scouting players?

First of all, thank you very much to you guys for the support you transmit to Seville being so many miles away. Technology unites us. Seville FC is also working to be present wherever Sevillistas are. To respond to the question, I could say that I spend the break doing everything you mention, but knowing that the most important thing is to rest and get away, be with my family, friends and so on in order to get in the best condition before the competition. Even when we are done competing, we still have to work, we analyze situations that have occurred during the games and may occur in the future. And whenever we can we continue to watch soccer because we can keep learning from any game, at a collective level or with regards to specific players.

You have been at Sevilla now three and a half years. With the back to back Europa wins and the improved performances in La Liga, you have created quite the legacy at Sevilla. Your current contract expires at the end of the 2016-2017 season, do you feel that you could stay at Sevilla for years to come? Has Mr. Castro approached you with any extension discussions at this time?

My relationship with Sevilla FC goes beyond what the contract says. – Unai Emery

I always work thinking about the present and not the future beyond the next game. My relationship with Sevilla FC goes beyond what the contract says. I feel the support and respect of the club for my work and I am looking forward to growing more, just as we have done since I arrived.

In recent interviews you have stated that you are happy in Sevilla.  Some of our members at Monchi’s Men have never been to Sevilla. What do you enjoy most about the city?  How do you compare life now in Sevilla with your life growing up in San Sebastian?  

Sevilla is a very welcoming city, pleasant for living and it has an almost perfect climate, except for the high summer temperatures. And besides, you really feel the passion for soccer there, which is really important for professionals. People here feel Sevilla FC in a very deep way. It’s a different city than my home town, Hondarribia, which is very close to San Sebastian, in Northern Spain. I’m sure you would really like it. I go there every time I can, to be with my family and friends, and enjoy the special places in the Basque Country that I miss when I’m away.

 Changing topics a little, let’s discuss the current team.  While the RSP continues to be a fortress, winning games away from the RSP has been a struggle this season.  What do you think the root cause for this is?  

Our goal is to be a strong team both at home and abroad, because the points are equal at the Ramón Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and away from home. Just as we do, other teams play harder at home and make it more difficult for the visiting team. In that sense, there are things we can control, and others that get in the way of us winning. We work on those that affect us without neglecting our responsibility of being always a competitive team.

 At this point of the season after all the injuries the team have overcome and with the departures of Bacca, Vidal, Navarro, Aspas and Suarez, who would you say is your most valuable or important player?  Which player has improved the most over the course of this season?

The team is the most important thing. Each player has his moment, and has to be prepared for that moment and feel his contribution is important, whatever it may be. There are players who have stepped forward and have grown over the season. I still hope that several more continue to improve in the great month and a half that we have ahead. I have always said that what makes me feel proudest is to see some of my players maturing and becoming top players playing in top teams.

What changes in the league and with the team do you think are needed to someday compete for a league title?

It is unlikely to happen, at least in the short term. It would be nice if a team from La Liga did the same as Leicester in the Premier League. But the economic differences between the clubs remain considerable. From now on, they will be lower because of the new distribution of television rights, but both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona remain a cut above the rest. However I think it is beneficial that we all compete with and against them because it makes the rest of us do our best and be better. In that sense, Atletico Madrid has taken a big step and has shown us the way.

As you can probably tell we are huge fans of Monchi.  How does the selection and recruitment of new players work? To what degree do you suggest team needs to Monchi? Do you suggest specific players or do you just profile the type of players that would best fit your system?

Monchi’s work as the Sevilla FC as head Sports Director has been recognized by the world of soccer. In those seasons in which I have worked with him I could see his skills firsthand. And the results are visible. It is hard not to associate the current Sevilla FC with Monchi. He feels very identified with the club, he is indeed an avowed sevillista. It is a job that is attached to the word “growth”, he always looks for players with a certain profile, with the potential and desire to go a step further in their careers. On the other hand, this policy has a higher risk than when you sign renowned players. But that’s one of the nicest parts of being Sevilla FC coach, enjoy a difficult challenge of making a team grow to achieve success. We worked together on the needs of the club, on the kind of players we believe that the team I’m going to coach needs to perform better.

 As a coach who loves the tactical nature of the game, we wanted to make sure we got a tactical question for you.  We have noticed that Sevilla have been utilizing the short corner this year even though we have one of the tallest teams in La Liga.  Will you explain your philosophy behind this?  Is it a decision the players take depending on the in-game situation or is it something specifically that you work on in practice?

We leave nothing to chance, and even less when defending on set-pieces. We study the opponent, how they defend their actions, and our attacking potential from the possible kickers to the strikers. Soccer has a lot of deception, surprise, you need to move your players. We work on these actions, the throw-ins, the initial throw, everything in order to score a goal.

Superstition is a weakness. – Unai Emery

Coach, it truly is an honor to be communicating with you.  We, as English speaking fans, feel lost in translation most of the time and for you to take the time to answer our questions really means a lot to everyone at Monchi’s Men.  Before we let you go, we have one last question for you.  Why haven’t you been wearing the elbow patches this season?

That’s funny! Last season, with no elbow pads, we won the Europa League and we achieved the point record in a season for Sevilla FC. Behind all of that is a lot of work and preparation. Superstition is a weakness.