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Opinion

Unai Emery – Moment has arrived for him to give Newcastle United a big helping hand

3 weeks ago
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Unai Emery turned down the job at St James Park back in the Autumn, at the time Newcastle United deep in relegation trouble with no wins and only four points from a possible 30 in the opening 10 Premier League matches.

It would be another month and five games before Newcastle United registered their first win of the season in early December, that victory coming under Eddie Howe.

Earlier this month, Unai Emery revisited what happened back in late October / early November 2021 and why he didn’t take the NUFC job.

Unai Emery talking to The Athletic:

“The Newcastle project is an attractive project, something to build, different to Arsenal.

“With Arsenal, you first had to knock down the walls, which is hard work, then start to build again. Newcastle no, it was just about building, from the ground up. So it is different, and I liked the idea.

“The Premier League is an attractive league for all us coaches. So when Newcastle called me, I thought a lot about the opportunity to return to England, to a serious project. For me, it was a source of pride, satisfaction and I appreciated it.

“The opportunity of a club like Newcastle, what it could turn out to be, it is normal for me to listen to the offer, to consider it.

“I thought about the offer and I spoke with (Villarreal president) Fernando Roig but I also had to take into account that we were in the Champions League with Villarreal, mid-season. In the end, with a lot of respect for Villarreal, and a lot of respect for Newcastle, I decided to stay here. I am happy here and we are doing an important job.”

Unai Emery wasn’t flavour of the month on Tyneside back then BUT now he could do Newcastle United a massive favour.

Since turning down Newcastle United, Unai Emery and his team have played 22 league matches, winning twelve, drawing four and losing only six.

Meanwhile, their Champions League adventure continuing and after beating Bayern Munich to reach the semi-finals, Villarreal returned to La Liga duties and beat Getafe and Valencia in these past nine days. Villarreal now seventh in the table, only three points off sixth and five points behind fifth.

Only one tie away from reaching the Champions League final, which would be astonishing for a club with such limited resources and fanbase.

Unai Emery and his team play at Anfield on Wednesday night with an 8pm kick-off, the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. It will be fully eight days since Villarreal played their last match (beating Valencia 2-0 in La Liga), which will mean the Spanish minnows can have a right go at Liverpool.

The red scousers having just had a tough derby match against Everton yesterday, with then a match at St James Park to follow only some 62 hours after this Villarreal first leg ends on Wednesday night. Then after that 12.30pm kick-off against Newcastle United on Saturday, only three days later sees Liverpool playing away at Villarreal in the Champions League semi second leg.

Villarreal are big underdogs in their Champions League tie but after beating both Juventus and Bayern Munich, Jurgen Klopp will be very wary of the Spanish club. Indeed, with only two week to go, Klopp shamefully tried to get the Premier League to move the kick-off of this Newcastle match. Although I am still puzzled as to exactly when he would have wanted it moved to, surely the big problem caused by playing Villarreal on Wednesday and then Tuesday the next week, with no ideal time to play that NUFC game in between.

It would be great to see Villarreal get a positive result against Liverpool in the first leg and at least a very tough game. Factors which will then impact on Klopp’s team selection on Saturday, as well as some players starting against Newcastle who aren’t physically 100%.

Eddie Howe results so far in the Premier League with Newcastle United

Played 23 Won 11 Drawn 5 Lost 7 (Points 38) – That averages out at 1.65 points per match.

Whilst the most recent 14 Eddie Howe matches have produced ten wins and a draw, 31 points at an average of 2.21 points per game, which if averaged over a 38 game season would equal 84 points, only two points less than what Man City won the league with last season.

Eddie Howe took over a squad of players that pundits had lined up to say were so poor it was a miracle that Steve Bruce won any games with them…only for the new NUFC Head Coach to go on and improve the team and pretty much every single individual, producing very very decent form.

Avoiding defeat against Liverpool would be the icing on the cake for Newcastle United and Eddie Howe, whilst a victory for NUFC would absolutely be the cherry on top of that icing. These last 13 Premier League games have seen Liverpool win 12 and the only one they dropped points in, was the 2-2 draw at Man City.

A win for NUFC would surely see Eddie Howe pick up his second Premier League manager of the month award in the last three months, whilst at the same time effectively ending Liverpool’s title chances I’d imagine.

Liverpool are the only Premier League club to have picked up more Premier League points in 2022 than Newcastle United, so all I can say is, bring it on!

Not saying that Newcastle are definitely going to win, or even avoid defeat, on Saturday. However, what I do know is that both players and fans will be giving it everything for NUFC and that is all we ask for.

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