Unai Emery: Newcastle United target rules himself out, saying he is ‘100%’ committed to Villarreal

Unai Emery

Unai Emery has ruled himself out of contention to be Newcastle United’s next manager, saying he is “100%” committed to Villarreal.

The former Arsenal boss confirmed on Tuesday he had been approached by the Premier League club, who made him their first choice to replace Steve Bruce.

In a social media post on Wednesday, Emery said Villarreal is “my home”.

“I am grateful for the interest of a great club, but even more grateful to be here,” he wrote.

Emery thanked Villarreal president Fernando Roig and his family for their support, adding: “No matter how much noise there was yesterday in another country, within the club there was transparency and loyalty with the Roig family and with my squad, and for me it is the most important thing.

“Villarreal is my home and I am 100% committed.

“That is why I communicated to Fernando Roig my decision to want to continue being part of this project because of the commitment and respect that I perceive from the club and from my players, which is mutual and reciprocal.”

Newcastle had hoped to have the Spaniard in place by the weekend.

Instead, their manager search continues, with former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and Paulo Fonseca, who left Roma in May, possible alternatives.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague says those advising Emery were left feeling uncertain about the club’s strategy, with stories in England emerging that the shortlist was down to him and Howe – two men with contrasting approaches and vastly different levels of experience within European football.

“Emery felt a huge pressure on the day of their match [a 2-0 win over Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday],” said Balague.

“And then there was the lack of a clear vision from the club. If you want him, do you approach him in such a rushed way, without an official offer and with it coming out from the English side that it is all practically done?

“Also, the different number and style of the candidates being considered appears to be a sign of a confused vision. That was a concern to some of those involved in conversations with the club hierarchy.”


BBC’s chief football writer Phil McNulty

Unai Emery’s decision to stay at Villarreal rather than take over as Newcastle United’s new manager is a bitter blow to the club’s Saudi Arabian hierarchy and continues a faltering start to their time in charge.

In a blizzard of optimistic messages coming out of the north-east of England on Tuesday, it seemed Emery would find the attraction of Tyneside impossible to resist and he would be in his post before the end of the week to oversee the great revival.

There was even a video unearthed of Emery supposedly gazing wistfully around St James’ Park during his time at Arsenal, presumably suggesting that this was the place he was always destined to come.

Not quite.

It emerged in Spain, after Emery had guided Villarreal to victory over Young Boys of Berne in the Champions League on Tuesday night, that this was not quite the done deal and he was supposedly less than impressed by the lack of a clear vision in Newcastle’s future plan.

The confirmation of this damaging setback came in statement from Emery re-affirming his commitment to Villarreal, leaving Newcastle’s money-no-object owners to leaf through the list of candidates below Emery on their list.

This has been a less-than-ideal dawn to this brave new world at Newcastle United, with Steve Bruce’s inevitable sacking delayed, more poor results and their top target staying put in Spain.

The usual suspects will now be rounded up, with former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe the early alternative, but they will all know they are second choice at best after Emery’s very public rejection of any interest Newcastle had shown.

Newcastle cannot afford any more mis-steps. They need to get their new man in and quickly because, just in case anyone has forgotten amid the hysteria and jubilation of former owner Mike Ashley’s departure, they have a team that currently has “relegation” stamped over it and all the money in the world might not help them unless they stay in the Premier League this season.

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