Ljungberg In As Arsenal Kick Emery Out

 

 

Freddie Ljungberg has been brought in to temporarily replace Unai Emery who was sacked on Friday as manager of London side, Arsenal. 

Emery was sacked as Arsenal manager after less than two years in charge and with the club without a win in seven games, their worst run since 1992.

The 48-year-old Spaniard was fired following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday’s Europa League match.

“We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team,” read a statement from the club.

READ ALSO: Unai Emery Sacked As Arsenal Manager

There was serious unrest at the team’s downward spiral and Ljungberg, who played for the club between 1998 and 2007, was placed on stand by to take over.

Ljungberg is said to have performed impressively since joining Arsenal as a coach and has been part of Emery’s backroom staff this season.

It is hoped that his emergence as a temporary manager will help rekindle faith in gunners’ fans across the world.

Ljungberg was part of Arsenal’s Premier League title-winning teams of 2002 and 2004, only became part of the first-team setup in the summer, having returned to the club as under-23s coach in the summer of 2018.

Emery Axed As Arsenal Boss After Worst Run In Decades

Unai Emery AFP Photo

 

Unai Emery was sacked as Arsenal manager on Friday after less than two years in charge and with the club without a win in seven games, their worst run since 1992.

The 48-year-old Spaniard was fired following the 2-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Thursday’s Europa League match.

His assistant Freddie Ljungberg takes over as interim manager during the search for a permanent replacement.

Arsenal fans had demanded “decisive action” from directors with the club’s run of five draws and two defeats just one match off equalling George Graham’s run of eight without a win in 1992.

Club directors responded by axing the man appointed in May 2018 to revive a club stagnating after two decades under Frenchman Arsene Wenger.

“We announce today that the decision has been taken to part company with our head coach Unai Emery and his coaching team,” read the statement.

“We have asked Freddie Ljungberg to take responsibility for the first team as interim head coach.

“The search for a new head coach is underway and we will make a further announcement when that process is complete.”

Ljungberg will be the first Swedish manager to take charge of a Premier League game since Sven-Goran Eriksson, whose last game in the competition came in May 2008 in charge of Manchester City.

Among those in the mix for the permanent job include former Gunners star Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola’s assistant at champions Manchester City, ex-Juventus handler Massimiliano Allegri — Sky Sports reported there had been contact between the two parties — and Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who is at Wolves.

Napoli’s coach Carlo Ancelotti is another name that has entered the reckoning — he won the domestic double in the 2009/10 campaign when in charge of Chelsea — but Nuno is the early bookies favourite at 11/10.

However, Nuno, 45, has had two spells in charge of relatively high profile clubs at Valencia and Porto and did not enjoy success.

‘Rejuvenation’

 

Emery’s cause has not been helped by the controversy over Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international swore at Gunners fans when Emery took him off against Crystal Palace last month. Emery responded by stripping Xhaka of the captaincy.

Pepe, Arsenal’s record signing, has been a huge disappointment since his £72 million ($93 million) move from French Ligue 1 outfit Lille in the close season. Under Emery the club has spent at least £200 million.

Emery’s position had looked shaky enough when north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur sacked Mauricio Pochettino last week only months after he took Spurs to the Champions League final.

Emery’s first season ended in disappointment. Arsenal blew two chances for a return to the Champions League, winning just one of their last five games to finish fifth in the Premier League and then losing the Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea.

“Our most sincere thanks go to Unai and his colleagues who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back to competing at the level we all expect and demand,” read the club statement.

“We wish Unai and his team nothing but future success.

“The decision has been taken due to results and performances not being at the level required.”

Supporters see the board, and especially unpopular American owner Stan Kroenke as part of the problem.

The influential Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the official supporters’ club, issued a statement welcoming the departure of Emery but calling for further radical changes.

“Emery’s departure is the easy part,” read their statement.

“The more difficult challenge is to recruit a suitable successor.

“We are far from certain that Arsenal has the right personnel to lead this process.

“If Arsenal are to genuinely move forward from today it requires not only a new head coach appointment but also a rejuvenation of the boardroom.”

Solskjaer Has Made United ‘Very Dangerous’ – Arsenal’s Emery

Manchester United’s Norwegian caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/ AFP

 

Arsenal manager Unai Emery says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made Manchester United a much more dangerous team since taking over from Jose Mourinho.

Emery’s side host United in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday and the Spaniard expects a stern test from Solskjaer’s revitalised team.

Arsenal drew 2-2 with United at Old Trafford in the Premier League last month, shortly before Mourinho was sacked as manager after a wretched run of results.

Since then, Solskjaer, hired from Molde as interim boss, has overseen seven successive wins in all competitions.

Solskjaer’s approach has won over a United squad that grew tired of Mourinho’s spikey personality, and Emery is suitably impressed.

“It’s a different team. It’s the same players but they’re playing with a big performance now,” Emery told reporters on Wednesday.

“I was watching their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence, with big performances, and now they are very dangerous.

“For us, it’s good because it’s a very big test for us in this competition.”

Arsenal’s preparation for the United clash included a team-building paintball trip, but it has been a difficult few days for the club.

It was announced on Monday that head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will leave next month having only been at Arsenal for a little over a year.

A day later, Gunners right-back Hector Bellerin learned he could miss up to nine months after suffering ruptured knee ligaments in the 2-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

Emery was asked about both issues and believes Arsenal should take their time in appointing a successor to Mislintat, with Roma’s director of football Monchi linked to a similar role in north London.

Asked if it was important to swiftly find a replacement for Mislintat, Emery replied: “Maybe if you do this recruitment very quickly, maybe you can make a mistake.

“I think it’s better to do without that, being calm and also finding the best possible person to do this job like we want.

“I think the club is working on that. It’s not my issue. I can say the same: if the club decided to sign one sporting director, then I will agree with them.”

Bellerin will undergo surgery and could miss the start of next season given the severity of the damage to his knee.

“We were sad and we are sad now after his injury,” Emery added.

“I think this year is very difficult for big injuries like Hector, Rob Holding and (Danny) Welbeck. But football is like that.

“We need to treat these injuries like normality in football, but we are very sad for that.”

AFP

Friendship With Emery Will Survive Derby Outcome, Says Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino                          Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is not going to let the north London derby clash on Sunday affect his friendship with Arsenal boss Unai Emery.

The two old friends will meet for the first time in the Premier League with third-placed Spurs three points better off than the Gunners.

Pochettino is especially touched by the memory of Emery, who at 47 is a year older then the Tottenham boss, recommending he replace him at Valencia when the latter left for Spartak Moscow in 2012.

Pochettino declined the offer, preferring to remain at the less prestigious La Liga outfit Espanyol, and insists that their roles at the head of such big rivals will not affect their friendship.

“The opposite I think,” said Pochettino “Of course we are in different clubs and it is a derby we are going to play.

“In the moment we are going to compete, we are going to try to find the way to beat each other but before and after the game (we are) always very good friends.”

Pochettino, who has garnered much praise for the style his young team play although they are yet to win any silverware in his four years in charge, says he is still moved by Emery’s generous gesture.

“I called Unai who was in Spartak Moscow and said, ‘Thank you very much for recommending me’. I chose to stay at Espanyol at the time,” said the Argentinian. “I am loyal.”

“You need to ask him (why he recommended me), I didn’t ask why. You need to say thank you and be grateful when a colleague — and after someone who became a very good friend (does that).

“It’s not usual that a manager recommends another manager when he leaves the club.”

Pocchetino will have his work cut out on Sunday. Tottenham have not won away at Arsenal since 2010 and that 3-2 win remains Spurs’ only win at the Gunners in their last 25 meetings.

AFP

Bournemouth Game Too ‘Demanding’ For Ozil, Says Emery

Arsenal Appoint Emery As Wenger's Successor
Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery.  CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Mesut Ozil’s relationship with Arsenal boss Unai Emery is again under scrutiny after the Spaniard appeared to suggest Sunday’s match at Bournemouth was too “demanding” for the German.

The 30-year-old German World Cup-winning midfielder had played in the Gunners’ previous three matches — all draw — but Emery decided his style did not fit with Bournemouth’s robust approach.

“We thought ‘how we can do better in the match’, a very demanding match with physicality and intensity,” Emery said following the 2-1 win for Arsenal when asked why Ozil had not started.

“Every player is important but today we tried with three center-backs and it was another possibility for us to improve and find our best performance as a team.”

Ozil, whose place in the team for Sunday’s North London derby with Tottenham could now be in doubt, did not even warm up for the match.

“It depends on how the match is going,” said Emery, replying to a question on why Ozil had not warmed up.

“I decided on another option. We knew this was a difficult stadium, a difficult team. Seventeen matches we haven’t lost but the last three we drew. That is not enough for us.”

Emery and Ozil have had a fractious relationship since the Spaniard replaced Arsene Wenger at the end of last season.

Ozil missed the 3-1 win over West Ham in August when it was reported he and Emery had argued at the training ground but the Arsenal boss said the player had been too ill to train.

Ozil also threw a tantrum at being substituted in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace — in which he captained the side in the absence of the injured Petr Cech — in late October.

He stomped past Emery and hurled his gloves to the turf in disgust before taking a seat on the bench.

Emery, though, did not take umbrage publicly, stating “I like the players like him who show the character when we are not playing well”.

AFP

Emery Revels In Arsenal Revival

Fulham’s German midfielder Andre Schurrle (C) controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on October 7, 2018. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Unai Emery believes Arsenal’s blistering form has restored the bond between the team and their supporters after the Gunners crushed Fulham 5-1 to record the club’s longest winning streak for 11 years.

Emery’s side turned on the style on the banks of the River Thames, romping to their biggest win of the season as the resurgent Gunners moved into the Premier League’s top four.

Alexandre Lacazette sparked Arsenal’s power surge at Craven Cottage, with his superb second-half strike restoring their lead after Andre Schurrle had cancelled out his opener.

Aaron Ramsey’s audacious back-heeled goal put Arsenal in complete control to cap a stunning move that recalled the club’s finest days under Emery’s predecessor Arsene Wenger.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted twice in the closing stages as Arsenal won six consecutive league matches within a single campaign for the first time since 2016.

It was a significant statement of intent from a team widely written off ahead of Emery’s first season in charge.

“Our performance over the 90 minutes was very important. We worked very hard in the second half to get this result with our momentum on the pitch,” Emery said.

“I believe in us, we believe in our process but also we must keep taking confidence. I think we are in the first part of the war.

“It is very difficult but we must prepare, continue improving and show big commitment.”

Emery was expected to need a long period to revive Arsenal after the depressing final years of the Wenger era.

But the former Paris Saint-Germain boss has helped Arsenal quickly rediscover their verve and struggling Fulham had no answer to their enterprising display.

No wonder jubilant Gunners crammed into one corner of Craven Cottage celebrated the goal with chants of “We’ve got our Arsenal back”.

That unity between fans and players was badly missing as supporters staged protests against Wenger last season.

“You need to feel together with the supporters and the players. This spirit and mentality is very important for us,” Emery said.

“To show our quality and work, then together we can be happy like today. We need them to support us. The players feel that.

“We are happy but also calm because we know each match is difficult. We are going to continue working.”

While Arsenal are improved, they have been aided by a soft fixture list in recent weeks and even Emery demurred when asked if his team are now title contenders.

“We lost the first two matches against Manchester City and Chelsea. We were calm then and we need to be the same way in our mentality when we are winning,” he said.

“I don’t want to look back. Every match is different. We have a better position in the table for our objections, but we have to be calm.”

Fulham are off to their worst start to a top-flight season with one win in eight games following last season’s promotion.

They waved the white flag as Arsenal ran riot, leaving Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic frustrated with their effort levels in the second half.

“We need to be more solid and more competitive if you want to be honest. We opened all the doors and they finished easily,” Jokanovic said.

“We showed so many weaknesses for this Premier League level.

“Arsenal showed their quality and pace, but we surrendered in the last 10 minutes.”

AFP

Three Things Unai Emery Must Fix At Arsenal

Unai Emery Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal’s first new manager in 22 years on Wednesday. Here are three things the Spaniard must deal with to ensure a smooth transition from the Arsene Wenger era:

Solve the Ozil conundrum

Mesut Ozil’s diffident personality and alarming habit of drifting to the periphery of matches proved a major problem for Wenger. Emery must decide whether he can drag more committed and consistent displays from the German playmaker. The 29-year-old signed a new £300,000 ($400,000) per-week three-year contract in January as Arsenal scrambled to hold on to one of their stars following Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United. But the former Real Madrid midfielder continued to provide only occasional glimpses of the talent that persuaded Wenger to pay £42 million for him in 2013. Early reports suggest Emery, having reviewed video of Arsenal this season, may not have much faith in Ozil, preferring to build around the more robust Aaron Ramsey instead. With the gifted Henrikh Mkhitaryan already in place at the Emirates Stadium, Ozil should be on notice that his performances must improve if the World Cup winner is to avoid being swept away by Arsenal’s new broom.

Plug Arsenal’s leaky defence

Wenger neglected Arsenal’s defence in his final years at the Emirates and Emeryinherits a ramshackle unit that crumbles at the first sign of pressure. They conceded 51 league goals this season — more than any other side in the top seven and only five fewer than bottom of the table West Bromwich Albion. Although Arsenal’s back four were let down by Wenger’s failure to drill his midfielders to properly protect them, they still made enough mistakes of their own to leave the demanding Emery surely convinced that new recruits are the only solution. Renowned for providing players with video analysis of their own performances, Emery will have enough material to fill an entire hard drive as he surveys footage of the leaky Arsenal defence over the past 10 months. With Laurent Koscielny set to miss the start of the season after ankle surgery, Emery will not want to be left with error-prone pair Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding as his first-choice centre-backs. The Gunners have already been linked with Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, while inconsistent Arsenal full-backs Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac could also do with a few of Emery‘s rigorous defensive tutorials.

Unite Aubameyang and Lacazette

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a blistering start to life with Arsenal following his club record £56 million move from Dortmund in January as the Gabon forward netted 10 times in 13 league games. Aubameyang’s impact was all the more striking given the travails of the man he usurped in the starting line-up. Although he scored 17 times in 39 appearances in all competitions, Alexandre Lacazette endured an underwhelming first season after his £46 million switch from Lyon. Where Aubameyang’s pace, movement and predatory instincts made an instant impact on a moribund Arsenal team, France international Lacazette allowed himself to be bullied out of games far too often. Now Emery will have to chose whether he wants to start with both in his attack. If not, it seems certain Aubameyang would lead the line, consigning Lacazette to the bench. Lacazette can point to a slightly more potent finish to the season as a sign he is beginning to adapt to the physical nature of English football. But, significantly, Aubameyang already has a strong connection with former Dortmund team-mate Mkhitaryan, who is likely to be tasked with supplying the chances for Arsenal’s strikers.

AFP

Unai Emery Set For Arsenal Challenge

Unai Emery (L) shakes hands with Arsene Wenger                                         Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Fuelled by video nasties and sleepless nights, Unai Emery is ready for the challenge of succeeding Arsene Wenger after being appointed as Arsenal’s first new boss for 22 years.

Arsenal have made a habit of appointing managers out of left-field — Bertie Mee was a former physiotherapist, former Arsenal star George Graham came from second-tier Millwall and Wenger was greeted with “Arsene Who?” headlines following his move from Japan’s Nagoya Grampus 8 in 1996.

Emery is seen by some as another surprise choice after the Gunners reportedly initially favoured Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta.

But Emery, a 46-year-old Spaniard, arrives with grand credentials following his two-year stay with Paris Saint Germain and a Europa League-winning spell at Sevilla.

Emery left Paris at the end of this season having won the domestic treble.

Now he is tasked with raising standards at the Emirates Stadium and restoring Arsenal to the kind of glory they enjoyed in the early years of Wenger’s reign.

Emery already has one thing in common with Wenger after making clear his disdain for the Frenchman’s old rival Jose Mourinho.

When Manchester United boss Mourinho, then in charge of Real Madrid, devoted a press conference to criticising referee Carlos Clos Gomez in 2010, Emery gave an acerbic retort, snarling: “Mourinho’s stance is that of a cry baby”.

It was a jibe typical of the intense Emery, who was steeped in football from birth, with his father and grandfather both former players.

Emery had a modest playing career, largely spent in Spain’s lower leagues, but he was an instant hit in his managerial debut with third-tier Lorca.

He achieved promotion and then moved to Almeria, who he took up to La Liga for the first time before taking over at Valencia, where he guided the team into the Champions League with three consecutive top-three finishes.

Valencia’s vibrant style earned him the admiration and friendship of Pep Guardiola.

Emery moved to Sevilla where he won three consecutive Europa League trophies in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Emery has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most studious coaches, working until the early hours of the morning crafting his game-plans.

Perfectionist 

He spends up to 12 hours preparing video analysis for his players and former Valencia winger Joaquin once quipped: “There were so many videos I ran out of popcorn.

“He’s obsessed with football, it’s practically an illness. He’s one of the best managers I’ve had.”

Emery is a perfectionist who demands relentless effort on the training ground.

“Either we all work or let’s just burst the ball,” he said, giving voice to an approach that might shake Arsenal out of the complacency that marred the end of the Wenger era.

Significantly, Emery has flourished within a structure similar to the one now in place at Arsenal, who lean heavily on head of recruitment Sven Mislintat and head of football operations Raul Sanllehi, both recruited last November.

At Sevilla, Emery worked well with recruitment director Monchi and Arsenal are gambling the same structure pays dividends for them.

The main worry for Arsenal fans might be Emery‘s ill-fated spell with Spartak Moscow in 2012 and his failure to fulfil his mandate at Paris Saint-Germain, where he was asked to win the Champions League after moving to the big-spending French giants in 2016.

Emery was let go by PSG with one year left on his contract and the roots of demise lay in two painful Champions League exits and a troubled relationship with star striker Neymar.

In 2017, a woeful 6-1 loss in Barcelona saw PSG surrender a 4-0 first leg lead in an incredible last-16 meltdown.

On the heels of that collapse, this season’s capitulation against Real Madrid in the last-16 ensured Emery‘s time in Paris would be short-lived.

Wenger’s travails in recent years mean Emery will not have to worry about the Champions League in the coming season but Arsenal can rest assured their ultra-driven boss will be working all hours to get them back there.

AFP

PSG Must Keep Building After French Title Romp – Emery

FILE COPY PSG’s Coach, Unai Emery                                                 Photo Credit: AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery said the club must continue to strengthen as the French champions try to transform their dominance at home into success in the Champions League.

Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso scored twice as PSG secured a fifth Ligue 1 title in six seasons on Sunday with a 7-1 rout of last year’s champions Monaco.

Unai Emery’s team blew Monaco away in a first-half blitz that saw PSG score four times in 14 minutes at the Parc des Princes with Lo Celso striking either side of goals from Edinson Cavani and Di Maria.

Rony Lopes pulled a goal back for Monaco as he scored for the eighth game in a row, but Di Maria added a fifth before Radamel Falcao turned into his own net and Julian Draxler struck late on as PSG romped to the club’s seventh championship.

“Other teams have more titles than us. Monaco, Nantes, Saint-Etienne, Marseille, Lyon…but we must keep on building,” Emery, who is likely to be replaced in the summer, told Canal+.

“There is a solid tool for the future, to remain number one in France and become that elsewhere with patience and hard work.”

With a fifth successive League Cup already won, PSG completed the second leg of a domestic treble — they are also through to the French Cup semi-finals — and could yet break their record 96-point haul from the 2015-16 campaign.

PSG also became the first team in Europe’s top leagues this season to reach 100 goals on a night they were without the injured Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the teenager left on the bench after a bout of illness.

But a second successive last 16 exit in the Champions League means heads will roll at the end of this season in preparation for another attempt to muscle in among Europe’s elite.

“That defeat (to Real Madrid) hurt us but we continued to work with the players, the staff and the president who is always at our side,” said PSG captain Thiago Silva.

“It was a difficult moment but I think in the end it’s a good season. We have taken back our title but we must continue to work, we have a French Cup semi-final (against Caen) on Wednesday.”

 Sidibe injury concern

Monaco arrived in Paris unbeaten on their last eight league visits to the capital but any prospect of them prolonging PSG’s wait for the title quickly eroded.

Kamil Glik’s absence in the heart of the visiting defence was acutely felt as Lo Celso started the move that resulted in the opening goal on 14 minutes, sauntering into the box to tap in a Dani Alves cross.

While Cavani’s second half of the campaign has proved less prolific than the blistering spell that yielded 19 goals before Christmas, the Uruguayan bagged his league-best 25th goal with a powerful header from a Yuri Berchiche cross.

Cavani then released Di Maria with a superb hooked pass from inside his own half and the Argentine raced clear before lifting an exquisite chip over the advancing Danijel Subasic.

Javier Pastore supplied Lo Celso to head in PSG’s fourth on 28 minutes and Monaco suffered further misfortune when France international Djibril Sidibe was stretchered off with a leg injury, a worrying sign for Didier Deschamps ahead of the World Cup.

Monaco briefly held up the onslaught as Lopes turned home an Almamy Toure cross seven minutes before half-time for the in-form Portugal international’s 13th goal this term.

But PSG continued to attack at will and Pastore’s nonchalant assist for Di Maria allowed the winger to grab his second of the game on 59 minutes.

The hosts were gifted another goal when Falcao’s attempt to clear a corner went horribly wrong, summing up Monaco’s misery as the ball looped beyond Subasic on 77 minutes.

Germany international Draxler rounded out the demolition, firing home via a deflection as PSG clinched the title at home for the first since 1994 while shattering Monaco’s 17-match unbeaten run.

Monaco later tweeted that they would reimburse the fans who had made the fruitless trip to the capital.

AFP

No Shame In Losing To Real Madrid – Emery

Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish Head Coach Unai Emery (L) gestures next to Real Madrid’s French Coach Zinedine Zidane during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Madrid on March 6, 2018, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Beleaguered Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery insisted there was no shame in losing to Real Madrid after the expensively-assembled French side crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of the holders.

“To be eliminated in the last 16 is a disappointment, but to lose against Real Madrid is not. They deserved to go through. There is no other analysis,” said the Spaniard whose side, shorn of the injured Neymar, lost 2-1 in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro scored the goals for Real in the second half, either side of Edinson Cavani’s scrambled effort for the hosts.

The defeat condemned PSG — who had Marco Verratti sent off in the second half — to a 5-2 aggregate loss, the second season running in which they have been knocked out in the last 16 after the humiliating loss against Barcelona a year ago.

“The objective was the Champions League. Now is not the time to think about the future,” said Emery, who is out of contract at the end of this season.

PSG have still not made it past the quarter-finals of the Champions League since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011 and started to lavish huge sums of money on players.

They took their spending spree to a whole new level last year, spending a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million) to sign Neymar from Barcelona and committing 180 million euros to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco.

Once again they have fallen short, but despite the crushing nature of another premature exit from Europe, Emery believes the Qatar-backed club will eventually go all the way in the Champions League, even if it is without him at the helm.

“We all want it to be quick and fast. But I’m convinced PSG can do it,” he said.

“It’s sure that we will continue, as much as patience allows, to build a team which can win in the future. When I came here I said I was sure this team can win the Champions League. But it’s a process.

“It could be next year or after that. But PSG fans will see in the future, that the team can win it and then win many times.”

 ‘Perfect match’ for Madrid 

Emery, like midfielder Adrien Rabiot, said that the 3-1 defeat in the first leg had ultimately left his team with too much to do in the return.

Ronaldo was the hero of the tie for Real, once again coming good on the European stage. After his brace in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, his 51st-minute header at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday effectively killed the tie.

Madrid march on, still in contention to win the Champions League for the third season running.

“We played well right from the beginning, pressing high up the pitch. It was a perfect match. It is not easy to come and win here,” said coach Zinedine Zidane, who had been under pressure just a few weeks ago but has come out of this tie with his position strengthened.

The quarter-finals in April await for Real, keeping their season alive given that they are 15 points adrift of leaders Barcelona in La Liga and out of the Copa del Rey.

“It is true that we have had difficult moments in the league and the cup, but that’s part of football,” said the Frenchman.

“Over the last two years these players have won so much and it is difficult to maintain that level.”

AFP

PSG Relishing Prospect Of Real Madrid Showdown – Emery

Emery

Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery is confident his side can get the better of Real Madrid as he looked ahead to next month’s heavyweight Champions League showdown in an interview with AFP.

And Emery dismissed suggestions that defeat to the reigning champions would constitute a failure for a club that invested huge sums in Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Dani Alves in the hope of winning the Champions League.

“It is a chance for us to show that we are at the same level as them, that we can beat the best teams,” the Spaniard said as his team prepares to return to action following the French winter break.

PSG play their first game of 2018 on Sunday away to Rennes when they begin their defence of the French Cup.

Their January schedule will be taken up by domestic action, but a nine-point lead over Monaco and Lyon at the top of Ligue 1 means they will perhaps already be starting to think about the first leg of their last-16 tie in Madrid on February 14.

“I always think positive,” said Emery. “We will prepare well to come into the tie strong and compete with Real. I think we can win.”

PSG are driven by the memory of what happened at the same stage of the competition last season, when they lost 6-1 away to Barcelona to go out having won 4-0 at home in the first leg in the French capital.

“We can learn a lot of things from that tie,” Emery said. “I think after that tie, and after the extra step PSG have taken, we will see teams, UEFA, referees have more respect for us, and I think we are now better prepared.”

Good for France 

The extent of PSG’s spending under their Qatari owners has not made themselves popular with Europe’s traditional elite.

A combined outlay of around 400 million euros ($483 million) on Neymar and Mbappe alone — the two most expensive transfer deals in history — have led to questions as to how PSG can comply with UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

But Emery, the former Sevilla coach, said: “When I was in Spain, there were two clubs with huge financial power, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real bought the best players in the world, (Luis) Figo, (Zinedine) Zidane, Ronaldo.

“In Spain, nobody ever talked about where the money they spent was coming from. And for Spanish football it was very good.

“I am at PSG, in Paris which is one of the most visited cities in the world, with a great culture.

“When the possibility arose for a financial power like that of Qatar to come in, and to have some of the best players in the world… I think the whole of France, French clubs are happy.

“It is normal that other teams are saying ‘wow’ because there is now greater competition.

“Outside the club, there is a lot of talk about the financial fair play. Here, the club is on the right road, within the rules of financial fair play.”

Nevertheless, it seems certain that PSG will trim their wage bill during this month’s transfer window in order to balance the books. The likes of Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore, and former Newcastle striker Hatem Ben Arfa look likely to move on.

However, Emery insisted that Argentina midfielder Pastore had not asked for a move amid talk that he could return to Italy.

He added: “Certain players who play less can maybe be protagonists in another team because they are good players and they don’t have the chance to play here, like Lucas Moura or Hatem Ben Arfa.”

AFP

Neymar Must Learn Not To Respond To Provocation – Emery

French referee Ruddy Buquet (R) shows a red card to PSG’s Neymar (C) during the French L1 football match between Marseille and PSG on October 22, 2017. BORIS HORVAT / AFP

Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has said Neymar needs to learn not to respond to provocation after the world’s most expensive player was sent off against Marseille last weekend.

The 222 million-euro ($264 million) Brazilian picked up a second yellow card late in Sunday’s 2-2 draw between the bitter rivals at the Velodrome for reacting to a foul by Lucas Ocampos.

Neymar got up and shoved Ocampos and the Argentine’s over-reaction played its part in the ex-Barcelona man receiving his second booking, just two minutes after his first.

“He is going through the process of adapting to the league, the team, the referees, but he is intelligent. He is also aware that he must learn from what happened on Sunday,” said Emery ahead of Friday’s Ligue 1 meeting with Nice.

Neymar will be automatically suspended for that game at the Parc des Princes.

“He was sought out more aggressively by the opposition, and it is important that referees know how to handle matches where these situations occur on the field,” Emery added.

“I spoke to him about it before the match and we said not to get involved in any provocation. But on the pitch, with the intensity and the aggression, the players are people, and we need everyone to maintain our balance and do the job well.”

The Nice game will be just the second that Neymar has missed since making his Paris debut in August — he previously sat out a 0-0 draw at Montpellier last month.

Emery could make other changes to his side with the encounter coming four days ahead of the home Champions League meeting with Anderlecht, where a win could wrap up their place in the last 16.

Veteran midfielder Thiago Motta will not feature against Nice because of a knee complaint, while Emery could have a problem at right-back as both Dani Alves and Thomas Meunier are doubts.

Angel Di Maria could benefit from Neymar’s absence to make just a second start since August.

“When he doesn’t play, he is not happy. He wants to play and start every match, but when he doesn’t it is because of the competition and the performances of others,” said Emery of the ex-Real Madrid man, who pointedly did not celebrate after coming off the bench to score in the recent 4-0 win at Anderlecht.

– Balotelli back? –

A win against Nice will allow PSG to go seven points clear at the top from reigning champions Monaco before they visit Bordeaux on Saturday.

Nice are the only French team to have beaten PSG in 2017, recording a 3-1 triumph in April.

However, Lucien Favre’s side are struggling this season — last week’s 2-1 loss at home to Strasbourg was their third on the bounce in the league and they are 14th in the table.

“We are delighted to be going to Paris. We will need to defend as a team, use the ball well, and above all we will need to be more compact,” said Favre, who is without playmaker Jean Michael Seri but could welcome back Mario Balotelli.

The Italian is Nice’s top scorer with five goals but missed last week’s match with a calf knock.

AFP