Newcastle owners set to narrowly miss awkward encounter with Unai Emery
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Newcastle owners set to narrowly miss awkward encounter with Unai Emery

Had things gone differently last year, Unai Emery would be preparing his Newcastle United side to face Aston Villa this afternoon.

Instead, he will watch on from afar as his new club take on the team that are currently fourth in the Premier League.

Emery is set to replace Steven Gerrard as Aston Villa manager, but won’t be in the dugout at St James’ Park for today’s traditional 3pm kickoff.

The Spaniard is yet to obtain a work permit, and will have to wait until November 1st to start working with his new set of players.

It will be Emery’s first job in England since he was sacked by Arsenal in 2019, but he very nearly returned to the Premier League last year.

Photo by Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Newcastle tried and failed to appoint Unai Emery

Shortly after last year’s takeover, Steve Bruce was relieved of his duties. This led to a lengthy search for his successor, with Amanda Staveley and co whittling down their shortlist to two candidates.

It was a two horse race between Emery and Eddie Howe, with the Europa League specialist the preferred candidate. Newcastle made their move, and believed they had agreed a deal to snap up the Villarreal boss.

It seemed like a real coup for the new Toon owners. Emery had a great CV, and was previously called a ‘genius‘ by pundit Ian Wright.

But then disaster struck. The story soon changed, as Guillem Balogue reported that Emery would actually turn down a move to St James’ Park.

The Spanish football expert claimed that Emery was concerned by Newcastle’s ‘lack of a clear vision’, summed up by the differing styles of the ex-Gunners boss and second favourite for the job Howe.

Emery decided to stay put, rejected Newcastle’s offer, and forced Staveley to give the job to Howe instead.

The rest is history.

Emery to miss out on meeting Toon owners

The Newcastle United owners have got pretty much every major decision right since taking over. They have appointed the right people and made the right signings.

However, the way they handled the Emery approach was a major embarrassment at the time. But a lot has changed in the space of a year, and now Staveley and co will narrowly miss out on an awkward encounter with the 50-year-old.

If anything, the owners are going to miss out on the chance to thank Emery for saying ‘no’. Howe came in instead, and has worked wonders.

He performed brilliantly to keep the side in the Premier League last season, and is doing even better this time. Howe has everyone pulling in the right direction, and already has his side competing for Europe.

Would that have happened with Emery? We will never know, but we will sharp find out how he gets on at Aston Villa – but not this afternoon against Newcastle.