Unai Emery faces unrivalled support and pressure in fourth year as Valencia Coach

Unai Emery goes into 2011-12 as Valencia’s longest-serving Coach for almost four decades and yet despite leading the team to successive Champions League group stage qualifications, pressure continues to surround his position at Mestalla.

Since Manuel Llorente was elected Valencia’s President in the summer of 2009, Los Che supporters have seen their best players head for the exit as the board looks to cut down on a €500m debt accumulated through several years of over-spending.

Raul Albiol, David Villa, Carlos Marchena, David Silva and, most recently, Juan Mata – all members of Spain’s World Cup winning squad in 2010 – have all departed Mestalla in the past two years, along with Joaquin Sanchez and Vicente, to help cure Valencia’s financial ills.

Despite losing his best players each season, the pressure to perform and improve each year has remained on Coach Unai Emery. Specifically, the expectation each season is to maintain third place and where possible close the gap to Barcelona and Real Madrid – last season 21 points, season before 25 points – and to further their performances in the Champions League – 2010-11’s Last 16 exit to Schalke drew criticism for instance.

Emery is the first Coach in 38 years to enter his fourth season with Los Che, after Alfredo Di Stefano, and although he has been with the club since 2008, he has yet to garner the full respect of the players, fans, some members of the board or the Press. The 39-year-old would be forgiven for feeling that the entire world is against him, because, it sort of is. Every move is scrutinised and criticised despite still offering a sense of continuity to a club that only boasts a handful of players to have been at the club longer than him.

The former Almeria tactician’s appointment came as a surprise to everyone. Quique S

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