Unai Emery is optimistic about Aston Villa’s chances of ending their 27-year trophy drought in their return to European football this season through the Europa Conference League.
In a dominant performance, Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick as Villa overwhelmed Scottish team Hibernian 5-0 in the first leg of the playoff, bringing them closer to securing a spot in the group stage.
Emery, who boasts a successful track record in European competitions, having won the Europa League four times with Sevilla and Villarreal, expressed his ambition for Villa’s journey in the Conference League. He emphasized the significance of participating in Europe and achieving something noteworthy.
Reflecting on his motivation, Emery shared that he draws inspiration from seeing images of Villa’s victorious 1982 European Cup-winning squad at the team’s training ground.
Villa’s fortunes saw a remarkable shift under Emery’s leadership last season. He took charge of the team in October when they were hovering just above the relegation zone after Steven Gerrard’s departure. Emery steered them to a seventh-place finish, securing European football for the first time in 13 years.
Beyond immediate results, Emery stressed the importance of cultivating a strong team mentality. He expressed his desire for Villa to make an impact in competitions like the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, and he highlighted the unique allure of European tournaments due to the potential for claiming a trophy.
Even though the Europa Conference League might be considered a tertiary competition, Emery acknowledged the presence of several formidable teams and the value of striving for success in the tournament.