Unai Emery’s rejection of the Toon is a reminder of how slow progress will be

When Unai Emery looked down at his phone to see a delegate from Newcastle United calling him, intent on offering him a job, his current club Villarreal had just been beaten by local rivals Valencia. It’s fair to say that things can often get quite uncomfortable for a manager on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula when their team comes out second best in this derby. Emery’s life of late had been tough going in general, as he’d not only gone four games without a win but had only recorded two victories in La Liga all season.

Now, you would have thought that when the recently crowned richest club in the world called any high-flying manager to ask if they would like to join a side with endless resources, the answer would be yes. Yet when they called Emery, whose team was only three points away from the relegation places in La Liga, well, you imagine that he would be so desperate to capitalize on this unforeseen slice of luck that they might even agree to fly Ryanair to Newcastle airport. 

However, that’s not what Emery did. Instead of pushing for the move and making it clear to Villarreal that he intended on swapping the Estadio de la Cerámica for St James’ Park, he actually ended up pledging that he is 100% committed to Villarreal. Indeed, Emery was happy to stay with the Yellow Submarine instead of joining a seemingly sinking ship in the Premier League.

Unai Emery announces he’s staying: “I’ve decided to stay here. Villarreal is my home and I 100% trust this project. I’m proud of top club interest [Newcastle] but I’m super happy with this club, Roig family, fans and players. See you soon in our stadium”. 🟡 #NUFC #Villarreal pic.twitter.com/KTahQMRcWf— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 3, 2021

Naturally, we know that the new owners of the club are doing their best to rectify Newcastle’s current position within the table by appointing a manager that can steer the club well clear of another relegation battle. However, the obvious problem that they’re having is due to how precarious the Toon’s position is. In other words, prospective managers that they’re sounding out are going away to do the maths and deciding that it’s not worth their time to take this project on. 

It may not be all about the unenviable task of keeping the club in the top-flight. After all, you only have to look through the latest relegation odds to see that as bad as it’s going for Newcastle at the moment, they’re still not being tipped to go down. Indeed, many of the best betting sites offer markets on dozens of leagues in countries from across the world — ranked by their features, competitive odds, and customer support — and none of them has the Toon as odds-on to take up residence in the Championship again. That should help the Geordie faithful sleep well at night, knowing that this list of knowledgable bookmakers with trusted reputations are confident that Newcastle won’t go down.

As touched on briefly, it may not be relegation alone that is making prospective managers politely decline the offer of taking up the hot-seat at St James’ park, but actually the likelihood of being given time in the long term when Newcastle find itself in a better position. After all, there are many reasons to believe that the new owners are ruthless and will have no problem putting anyone to the sword who might stand in their way, but they understand that the club first needs to get into a stable position before any progress can be made.

This is why Emery’s rejection was a sobering reminder of where Newcastle are as a club and why the Toon’s remaining fixtures this season are likely to be a slog.

🗣”I think he may turn out to be the best possible appointment for Newcastle at this moment in time.”@David_Ornstein sees potential in Eddie Howe taking over Newcastle’s managerial role and insists he was not a second choice option to Unai Emery pic.twitter.com/omAmUZcpLi— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 5, 2021

The appointment of Eddie Howe is exciting news as the Englishman’s stock is on the rise. Then again, the last development he oversaw at his most recent club, Bournemouth, was relegation to the Championship. No one’s saying that will happen but the bottom line is that this is the level of manager that will currently agree to take the Newcastle job. Managers of Emery’s stature are a while away yet.

Sure, we may all look back and say how grateful we are to Howe for the part he played in making Newcastle Premier League champions by putting the foundations in place to succeed, but it’s unlikely that he will be there for the trophy presentation. It will be a long walk to silverware for Newcastle.

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