surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

A point to prove

Unai Emery.
Unai Emery. / La Voz de Cádiz
  • Villarreal has been an excellent place for players to rebuild their confidence; the same should apply for Unai Emery

If you're looking to make a 'journey of recovery' and find your former self, you wouldn't necessarily head to the ceramic capital of Spain. That is, unless you are a footballer!

A small city of just over 50,000 inhabitants has the most incredible record of being a relaxed haven for football folk who have lost their way and need pointing back in the right direction.

Think of Villarreal Club de Fútbol as soccer's equivalent of The Priory, the place where stars head to when they need realignment. The latest notable name to be checked in is Unai Emery. After the hustle of Moscow, Paris and London he's delighted to be in the relatively relaxed backwater.

It hasn't taken him long to get back on track, his new club sits second in La Liga heading into the international break and tops its Europa League group.

The local Millars river must have incredible restorative powers as Emery follows in the footsteps of many who have headed to the Castellón region to rebuild their reputation. Remember when Santi Carzorla was written off after his horrific injuries? When he donned the famous yellow jersey, he was able to play two final seasons of thirty-plus games and earn a Spain recall. Diego Forlán was best known for not scoring at Manchester United yet won the Pichichi as La Liga's top scorer when he moved to Villarreal.

Now Emery is recovering from similar scars from a spell in England and is looking down on Barcelona and Real Madrid. He's inherited a bunch of like-minded professionals who all have one final point to prove. Dani Parejo was cast aside by Valencia after a decade of service; Paco Alcácer has an incredible record for the national team but didn't convince the coaches at his previous clubs, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund; Real Madrid stalwart Raúl Albiol is still going strong aged 35 and striker Gerard is back in the national team picture.

Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo embodies the spirit of the team. Three times his career has been threatened by serious knee injuries and three times he's bounced back.

The expectation of the humble club has always been to bob up and down the divisions hence the nickname 'El Submarino Amarillo' (The Yellow Submarine) yet in modern times they have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and finished second in 2008.

Emery did take Arsenal to the final of the Europa League and finished third for three successive years at Valencia, yet this wasn't good enough for either of those clubs.

I firmly believe he can help them win their first major trophy as they help him rediscover his confidence. I think he can replicate the success he had at Sevilla where he won the secondary European competition on three occasions.

At Villarreal there is little expectation but a whole lot of motivation for a coach and bunch of players written off elsewhere.

Get ready for them to be spending a night on the tiles at the Estadio de la Cerámica at the end of the season.