Unai Emery has explained that Aston Villa targetted the spaces on the pitch that Manchester United left open.
Emery was recently appointed as Steven Gerrard’s successor at Villa Park and he won his first game in charge of the club on Sunday afternoon, comfortably defeating United 3-1 thanks to goals from Leon Bailey, Lucas Digne and Jacob Ramsey.
Luke Shaw halved Aston Villa’s advantage just before half-time but the hosts were leading by two goals again by the 50th minute. United were undefeated in nine fixtures prior to the weekend and the manner of the performance was unexpected.
Emery, who inspired Villarreal to defeat United in the Europa League final in Gdansk in the 2020/21 season, was asked about his side’s performance after the game and he praised his players for their reaction in training to his appointment.
The Spaniard also discussed his side’s formation and he said it was more important to target the space that United left behind.
“I think the players showed us they were hungry, they were feeling good emotions, thinking about our match today [in training] and they did a very good job,” Emery said when asked about his first week in charge of Aston Villa.
“They played in their positions and I want them to feel good playing with their characteristics and skills. The shape for me is not so important, but we tried to use the spaces where Manchester United maybe let us do our job.
“Here at home, the supporters help the team a lot and the energy was amazing. They transmit to us and the response is playing in good spaces, with a good rhythm. I think the players feel so good at home and I want to use this result [as momentum].
United will meet Villa again in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford on Thursday night.