x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Unai Emery's success with Valencia appears to be in vain

Disgruntled fans and media mean a change in coach at the Primera Liga club is likely in the summer, writes Andy Mitten.

Unai Emery's reign as Valencia coach looks likely to end in the summer.
Unai Emery's reign as Valencia coach looks likely to end in the summer.

Unai Emery should be a hero in Valencia. Since taking charge in 2008, the Basque, 40, has become the longest serving coach at the Mestalla in over 40 years. Managers do not stay long at Valencia.

Emery deserves credit for his relative longevity, not only for surviving, but for leading Los Che to successive third place finishes. Given the dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Primera Liga, what more could he do?

Emery has kept Valencia ahead of the rest against the backdrop of financial meltdown at the club.

Club presidents came and went as Valencia twice came close to going out of existence.

They also had to stop work on their new stadium and sold their best players season after season. David Villa, Juan Mata and David Silva all departed to balance the books, yet Emery kept Valencia competitive.

They are one point off third this season and in the semi-final of the Europa League where they will meet compatriots Atletico Madrid.

They have star players like Jordi Alba, Roberto Soldado and Jeremy Mathieu and they are tactically astute enough to match any team, as they showed by holding Real to a goalless draw in the Bernabeu on Sunday.

So why is this likely to be Emery's last season at Valencia? He has not lined up a move to another club like Rafa Benitez did in 2004 and his family are settled in Spain's third city.

Apparently, it is not his choice. Emery's familiarity has bred contempt.

The fans appear bored of his personality, which can be abrasive, and of his football. The influential local media have long tired of his combative manner too.

The players - of whom Emery says: "I try to suck every drop of blood from them in effort" - are divided, as players tend to be about their boss.

Emery has kept a lid on the dissent by keeping Valencia competitive, but recent results have been poor and he is losing the battle. He has too many enemies and not enough friends.

Valencia have not won in their last four league games and have managed just three victories in 15 games since December. That they remain in the top four shows how well they did in the first half of the season.

Emery appears resigned to going, even if he wins the Europa League. Valencia fans will probably miss him, but only when he has gone.


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