At 36, the youngest coach in La Liga, Emery might have had the backing of a rich president and an ambitious, talented squad, but he’s performed a miracle. In fact, he’s performed two of them. His father and grandfather both played for Real Unión and he enjoyed some success with Toledo, but in 2004-05 he was at tiny Lorca in the Second Division B when the coach got sacked with the team struggling. Handed the job, Emery immediately retired as a player and took them to the Second Division - the only time they’d ever been there. The following season he carried them to within a single place of primera and when he departed the year after that, Lorca went down. Almería, meanwhile, came up with six weeks to spare.
“Emery,” admits one player, “is a colossal pesado (pain in the arse). The players hate him. Training sessions are long and unbelievably boring. Team talks go on forever - he makes you watch videos for hours, with endless replays of corners and free kicks, even goal kicks. It’s so dull I’ve seen people fall asleep. He tells you the same things every week, like you’re a little kid, ramming home his point - like the one about an open hand only delivering a slap but a fist, with everyone tightly packed together, being capable of doing real damage. He goes on forever, you get bored stiff, you think it’s all bollocks … but it works. It’s so relentless that in the end every single player knows exactly what he wants.”