It can never be easy for a manager to have to face the press after his team has been stuffed on the pitch but in all fairness to Unai Emery, it is probably getting easier as each game passes.
Another game, another defeat and the realisation of what today’s loss to Leicester City means, has finally hit home.
Emery is of the opinion that we started the game well and controlled the match, though he does concede that our opponents controlled possession and that it was the sending off of Ainsley Maitland-Niles that changed the game.
“Our gameplan was to be strong in our defensive moments and in our attacking moments, to take our chances, attacking their back four,” said Emery.
“We started very well, we controlled the match with good positioning and defensively with not many problems. They controlled the possession but we were good on the pitch and we wanted to grow up in 90 minutes to take our possibility to win today, being competitive in 90 minutes and also being strong in our mentality.
“The second yellow card gave us a lot of problems to continue with our gameplan with more efficiency. Continuing our idea with one player less was going to be difficult. It changed a lot, this red card.
“The players worked very well and I’m proud of them. With one player less, we continued our gameplan, trying to be together, defensively strong, and in the attacking moments to take our moments. The first goal has conditioned the result. When we were better on the pitch with one player less, they had a counter-attack and scored the second one and finished the match.”
Not sure what game the boss was watching as I cannot agree with his assessment, we started off on the backfoot and it never got any better.
Emery further admitted that the best chance of a Champions League place now is probably via the Europa League.
“We are going to think about Valencia in the Europa League,” said Emery. “We have a big ambition in this competition. It’s a semi-final and it’s going to be difficult also. Then we play on Sunday against Brighton, and we need to win this match.
“At the beginning of the season we knew it was going to be very difficult, and today it’s the same.
“Our confidence can go up, can go down. But the most important is to be clear in our minds and our way. Our way is to think of this semi-final and prepare for the match in the best possible way.”
At least with the Europa League, it is in our hands, that is no longer the case domestically and we have to hope that one of Chelsea or Tottenham slips up in their remaining two games.
With regards to the sending off of Maitland-Niles, Emery never said anything controversial, he obviously thought it was harsh and questioned the first yellow card received by the young wing back.
“The first [yellow card] is not [a yellow card], for me,” Emery said. “I don’t agree with this decision for the first yellow card. It conditioned [the game] a lot.
“I think that maybe the first yellow card was not one. It was the seventh minute in the game. This one [the second yellow card], I don’t know but I respect the referee.”
I actually agree with the gaffer on this one, it was a harsh sending off plain and simple and it did alter the dynamics of the game but I doubt it would have made any difference to the end result.