Aston Villa boss Unai Emery spoke to the media on Friday and was both frank and forthcoming in his views on how we’re progressing and what his more immediate priorities are.
Villa face West Ham Utd on Sunday as we look to make it three consecutive clean sheets and wins in the Premier League, but it will undoubtedly be a tough test, with the Hammers desperate for points too as they fight to move away from the relegation zone.
READ MORE: Crucial double boost after positive news on influential Villa duo
After coming through a sticky patch, Villa are back in a position to push on and break into the top half of the Premier League, but there are of course hopes that we can go beyond that and compete for a spot in Europe.
Emery was asked about that on Friday, and while he accepted that it’s a possibility, he outlined what his main focus remains on for now and what he’s trying to achieve at Villa in the short and long-term future.
Emery on European aspirations, his Villa priorities
“We respect a lot the feelings of our supporters, and we have to share their feelings,” he said, as per VillaTV. “Getting into Europe is a possibility and if we can get a lot of points in the matches we are going to face, we can be close.
“We have to be very consistent from today to the end of the league. We have in front of us a lot of teams, now playing very well and being consistent. To go into the top 10, it’s been difficult because we have to win a lot of matches in a row, and it’s not going to be easy because the top seven teams, they are playing very well and having a good season.
“We are being consistent, but we have to continue and get more points than others, and that is the difficulty we are going to face. I want to build, I want to create, being strong in our style and confidence in how we want to play, and in that process we can progress like I want to do. Now, it’s not my priority to get Europe because I know it’s not going to be easy, it’s my priority to win on Sunday and to win next weekend, and if we are getting results we can maybe get top 10 and the next objective to get Europe.
“The most important thing now is trying to build a team, trying to build a family, trying to build a way, trying to build a good, winning mentality. And then we can be excited and enjoy each match with our supporters, trying to connect with them, trying to use their energy.
“We have to be professional and focussed on what we are creating and the way we want to do it.
“I am happy. We are in a process and we are winning more than we are losing. We are being demanding of the players to improve in every match and to be competitive away, as we are doing. Overall, I think we are in the right way. Sunday is a new challenge after the last match.”
Meanwhile, the Villa boss was also asked an important question on how he feels the players are adapting to his demands and the style he wants to create at the club.
We’ve seen many positive signs of that over the last few months, and there are certainly clear indications of improvement and progression in terms of establishing an identity, a way of playing and tactically being well set up to have a big influence in both phases of the game.
That said, there have also been mistakes and setbacks along the way, arguably a natural part of the process given how big the change has been. In turn, while he will undoubtedly continue to hope to see further development, Emery was keen to praise the players for their application and detailed what exactly he’s trying to get through to them.
He has spoken consistently about his desire for us to show more control, game management and positioning across a full 90 minutes, and although we’ve produced some impressive performances so far, that is what we’re still perhaps striving for week in and week out.
Emery on how players are adapting to demands
“I think the players, they are committed to the demands I am asking of them, and they are training every day being very focused on how we can face each match,” he added. “Being consistent, trying to build up [from the back], to keep ball possession, taking time, to progress with the passes, don’t lose the ball easy, to practice a lot and then in the matches, follow the idea we are trying in training sessions.
“Overall, I am thinking we are taking good results, more good than worse, we are creating and starting a way to do the idea I want to impose and to create here.
“We can’t think to play under pressure is bad for us, trying to adapt our job every day, being comfortable, positive, competitive and not thinking if we are not getting it, we’re going to play to improve and being determined in the idea I want to create.
“Our focus is how we can play, how we can manage the 90 minutes trying to play ourselves and imposing our idea. We respect every team, we have to adapt, in a tactical way and to individual qualities, but we have to think about our consequences and how we can improve and go up the table.”