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Unai Emery reveals how Alex Ferguson mocked him for being in the Europa League

Unai Emery

Unai Emery has revealed that Alex Ferguson once mocked him for his regular presence in the Europa League.

The Arsenal (opens in new tab) manager won Europe's secondary club competition for three straight seasons during his time in charge of Sevilla (opens in new tab) between 2013 and 2016.

The La Liga side failed to make an impact in the Champions League under Emery, however, and he has yet to manage Arsenal in the continent's premier tournament.

The Gunners reached the Europa League final last term, only to lose 4-1 to domestic rivals Chelsea (opens in new tab) in Baku.

And Emery has revealed that Ferguson, who won the Champions League twice at Manchester United (opens in new tab), teased him for his regular participation in the Europa League.

"One day we were in Nyon for the coaches meeting and I was defending a lot the Europa League, and he – Ferguson – asked me, 'But really Unai, do you not prefer to win the Champions League?'" Emery told Soccer AM (opens in new tab).

"Yes of course! He didn’t need to say it! But at that moment I can be happy and I can defend the Europa League because also I think the UEFA people improve a lot this competition. But really, really the first is the Champions League – OK."

Arsenal have been drawn alongside Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria de Guimaraes in Group F of this season's Europa League.

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Greg Lea
Greg Lea

Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).