Unai Emery says he hasn’t come to Aston Villa ‘to mess around.’
Anyone who has witnessed the staggering revival of the club under his leadership will attest to the fact that the Spaniard is a man in a hurry. In the 15 months since Manchester United last travelled to Villa Park – his first game in charge – Emery has turbo-charged Villa.
To the point where he’s now billing games against the Red Devils as ’six-pointers,’ for Champions League qualification. But rarely has his adoring claret and blue flock seen him as animated as he was standing on the touchline on Sunday.
It betrayed his true emotions over the importance of this fixture. Emery waved his arms in the air, paying no heed to the demarcation on his technical area – standing with his hands in his pockets one minute, geeing up an expectant Villa Park crowd the next.
There can be no doubt that it has transmitted itself to both his players and the fans in the stands. When Villa Park is engaged – and it was – it almost seemed like Emery was playing the part of the conductor.
His players have fed off that energy since the first day of his appointment. Andre Onana was pressed into service far more than Erik ten Hag would have liked and the equaliser when it came, was no more than Villa deserved for their relentless push towards Manchester United’s goal.
But no matter how tactically astute, passionate or driven, there’s nothing any manager can do if his main starting XI – a match for any on its day – is disrupted. Villa’s success has been based upon a select group – and Emery has had to patch up his rearguard from day one.
What went wrong for Aston Villa vs Man United? Share your thoughts in the comments below
Tyrone Mings’ absence with knee ligament damage has been followed by significant injuries to defensive mainstays Pau Torres and Ezri Konsa. In the end, that counted. Diogo Dalot’s sublime cross was met by Scott McTominay and the gap between the two was slashed to five points.
And after this, their third successive defeat on their own soil – including an FA Cup exit – the cracks are now beginning to appear. They have conceded eight during that time. That’s too many for Villa to be successful. Emery needs to re-set his rearguard – and quickly – or else a season of immense promise will disappear.
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