Unai Emery jibes at Man Utd as he recalls conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson

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Villareal boss Unai Emery has recalled an old conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson in a jibe at Manchester United.

Emery's Villareal side will meet United at The Stadion Miejski in Gdańsk as the Spanish boss sets his sight on his fourth Europa League title.

The former Arsenal manager has become somewhat of a specialist in the competition having won the trophy for three consecutive years from 2013 with Sevilla.

In an interview ahead of Wednesday's clash, Emery recalled a conversation he once had about the competition with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

And Ferguson's old attitude to the Europa League showed how United have fallen in recent years to now find themselves facing off in the final of the second tier European club competition.

He told Spanish site Marca : "At a managers meeting in Valencia I was defending the Europa League and Ferguson questioned me, 'but wouldn't you like to win the Champions League?'

"I said, 'yes, of course I'd like to, but the Europa League is a place where many teams, fans and players find important recognition.'

"And now United have spent many years playing in the Europa League, longing for it and trying multiple times to win it to get to the Champions League.

"This is what has brought the Europa League closer to the Champions League."

Wednesday will be the Spanish boss' fifth Europa League final in seven years, his most recent being the 2018-19 competition when managing Arsenal.

The Gunners were beaten 4-1 by a convincing Maurizio Sarri Chelsea side, buoyed by an Eden Hazard brace.

Emery was sacked by Arsenal in the November of that year before signing with Villareal in July 2020.

Since taking the reins from Javier Calleja at the Estadio de la Cerámica, the 49-year-old broke the club's record 18 match unbeaten run and led the team to its first-ever Europa League final.

Villareal will face a Manchester United side much revived under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

Emery, however, is not phased by United's improved form and told Marca there is no fear from his side.

He said: "If we go out onto the pitch trembling, logically we will have few options, but I believe that no one in this team will tremble.

"They will all feel the adrenaline. This team has much more to it than players who are going to be scared."

The Villareal boss has faced United six times in his career to date, four with Arsenal and two with Valencia.

In those meetings, the Spaniard has only emerged victorious once, drawing three and losing two.

  • Champions League
  • Europa League
  • Sir Alex Ferguson
  • Unai Emery
  • Arsenal FC
  • Manchester United FC

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