Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino spoke at a UEFA coaching event in Madrid last week, putting aside their club loyalties for the session.
Both the Arsenal boss and his Spurs counterpart were invited to speak at the event, giving coaching advice and making observations about football. Emery first gave his thoughts and impressions on English football, from his brief time in the country so far.
“For them, the Premier League is the top competition,” he said. “They also want to win the Champions League but they have come up with three teams recently that have been imposed themselves.
“They are fighting for it. The Europa League they didn’t see it as a tournament where you could do something important. It was too much of a sacrifice.
“The English culture is the Premier League, the Champions League and the Europa League are for those teams that need it. This season I’m transmitting to my players that the Europa League is very important.”
Pochettino then admitted that he shares a belief with the Arsenal head coach that emotion is key to success in football.
“Football is so complex that any road can lead you to success,” he said. “The most important thing is for the manager to transmit what he feels. As Unai says, emotions are fundamental. Each one has a character which is transmitted with its nuances to compose a style.”
We’ve certainly seen the evidence of Emery’s focus on the Europa League already. Arsenal have only played against Vorskla and Qarabag, but already we’ve seen the likes of Aubameyang, Torreira, Özil, Sokratis, Monreal and more featuring in the competition, despite being first choice players.
If that results in Arsenal lifting the trophy at the end of the season, I’m sure the fans will be more than happy with that.
Of course, the problem is that putting so much effort in and not winning the competition could see the team suffer in the league as well. Emery clearly thinks the chance to pick up the Europa League again is worth the risk. Let’s hope it is.