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Should Liverpool consider Unai Emery?

Liverpool is faced with a challenging task of finding a suitable successor for their current manager, Jurgen Klopp, at Anfield Stadium. A diverse list of potential candidates has been named, but Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is not among them.

Unai Emery has been doing an exceptional job at Villa Park since taking over from former Liverpool midfielder Stevie Gerrard. The Spaniard’s influence has helped the club secure fourth place in the Premier League table, ensuring their first Champions League qualification in over a decade. Emery’s presence has brought an attractive and free-flowing style of play to Villa, making them a menace on transitions while equally adept at keeping the ball and playing sequences.

Ruben Amorim appears to be the favorite to take the job at Merseyside as the Reds grow confident enough to tempt him to join the club. Although Liverpool will need a list of potential coaches if the deal to bring the Sporting Lisbon manager through falls through.

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A Manager underrated?

Journalist makes case for Unai Emery at Liverpool

Reputed Liverpool journalist Neil Jones recently spoke about his surprise that Unai Emery is not yet linked with a move to Liverpool following his antics at Villa. In a conversation with Redman TV, Jones said:

“I’d be interested to know what fans would think of Unai Emery. If you can get Aston Villa playing that way, and listen, Villa aren’t a small club by any means, and they’re not on a small budget, but they are overachieving where they are at this time. They’re also overachieving in terms of the performance levels that they’re producing. He is both a coach and a manager. His Arsenal record might color it for some people, but he still got them to a European final. If you’re talking about pedigree and what you have in your back pocket, he is as well stocked as anyone.”

While Emery’s stay at Arsenal wasn’t as remarkable and ended in a bit of a mess, Jones feels that Emery is more of an ‘underappreciated’ manager.

“Is it a perception thing, is it an age thing, or maybe a communication thing that would suffer? I think he’s a brilliant manager. Maybe being underappreciated, I think Emery is another one of those. The fact that he’s come to the Premier League and did what he did. He’s done it at Sevilla; he’s done it at Villarreal. Success, or progress, seems to follow him everywhere. He’s doing it in the Premier League now, and they’re in a good position now to qualify for the Champions League as Aston Villa manager,” Jones concluded.

Would Unai Emery’s tactics fit at Liverpool?

This raises an intriguing question, at least to ponder the possibilities. Unai Emery at Liverpool, and should the Merseyside Reds think about having him at the helm? How is having Emery different from having Jurgen Klopp or Ruben Amorim?

Bringing Unai Emery means signing up for heavy automatism and rehearsed sequence plays. This would not make sense unless Liverpool wanted to shift from their current “identity.”

In simple words, Unai Emery is more towards the “positional play” style, but someone like Ruben Amorim is not that strict when it comes to positions, and his players are quite fluid in the final third compared to what we see from Villa. Fluid refers to what you see right now when Liverpool sets up in the final third. Salah plays a much more “provide width” kind of role, but overall, Mane, Salah, and now Diaz have had far more positional freedom under Klopp at Liverpool.

See how Trent moves inside higher up the pitch, and when Hendo was there, their right-side dynamics were more fluid. Sometimes Salah used to go central a lot, and the right side almost became empty with either Hendo or Trent “arriving” into the space rather than already occupying it.

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Now with Emery, he wants a strict position when they have sustained ball possession. If Bailey drifts inside, Matty Cash or someone else has to occupy that space or position.

What makes Liverpool a good counter-pressing side is exactly this: they are quite close to each other rather than wide and occupy every lane or zone on the pitch. Yes, Klopp is “positional,” you can say, but his team does apply the strict rules of “positional play theory,” which we see from City, Villa, Spurs, and Arsenal.

So, if Liverpool were to get Unai Emery or someone like Emery, then it would be a massive cultural change, and it would mean a reset of sorts, and next season would be a buffer.

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