Former manager impressed by Unai Emery's Aston Villa revival

Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Paul Lambert, the former Aston Villa manager, has commended the impressive work of current boss Unai Emery in turning round the club's fortunes.

Emery, who took over from Steven Gerrard, has led Villa to the brink of Champions League qualification and a Europa Conference League semi-final.

Lambert, who was at the helm of Villa from 2012 to 2015, expressed his admiration for Emery's achievements. He particularly highlighted the criticism Emery faced during his time at Arsenal, dismissing the idea that the Spaniard was a poor manager. He told Betway,

"He wasn't a bad manager at Arsenal and everybody ridiculed him. This is a typical British reaction and you can't do that. Saying that nobody understands him and all that sort of nonsense. That never washes with me. You look at the guy's record, what he'd done in Sevilla before, it’s unbelievable. "

Lambert pointed to Emery's successful track record at Sevilla and compared his journey to that of David Moyes, who went from Sunderland to West Ham.

Unai Emery / DIMITRIS KAPANTAIS/GettyImages

Under Emery's guidance, Villa are close to securing a Champions League spot, which depends on a favourable result and a slip-up from rivals Tottenham. The club is also aiming to reach their first major European final since 1982, as they attempt to overcome a two-goal deficit against Olympiacos in the Europa Conference League semi-finals.

Lambert emphasised the importance of Emery potentially leading Villa to Champions League football, stating that it would be a significant achievement for both the manager and the club. He also noted Emery's happiness at Villa, despite being linked with high-profile managerial positions elsewhere.

The former Villa boss addressed the speculation surrounding Emery's future, acknowledging the possibility of him being considered for the Manchester United job, given the pressure on current manager Erik ten Hag. However, Lambert also pointed out that Emery's contentment at Villa could be a key factor in his decision to stay.

Emery's impact at Villa Park has been recognised by the club, which recently extended his contract until the end of the 2026/27 season. The club's hierarchy is eager to secure Emery's services for the long term, acknowledging the transformative effect he has had on the team's performances and ambitions.

As Aston Villa stand on the verge of a new era of success, the praise from former manager Paul Lambert highlights Unai Emery's exceptional managerial abilities and the lasting impact he has made on the club in such a short time.