Video Analysis with Unai Emery

By Duncan Ritchie

04-June-2021 on News

11 minute read

In the press conference after the 2021 Europa League final, Unai Emery revealed that he and his team at Villarreal had analysed 17 Manchester United games in the preparation for the game. For those that know him and his team of analysts, this came as no surprise.


Emery has always been a great advocate of video analytics and, without doubt, this is one of the secrets of his success as a football manager. Having worked with him and his team for over a decade, we’ve seen first hand the sheer amount of analysis work they do when preparing to face off against another team. 


Although they might not analyse 17 games, this is not just something that is reserved for the big occasions, but for any match, generating volumes of data on each and every team they face.


At Nacsport, we’re proud that our software is part of this preparation and, in this article, we’d like to delve a little deeper into Emery’s relationship with video analysis.



Tweet from Villarreal analyst, Victor Mañas showing the 17 Man Utd matches analysed in Nacsport before Europa League final 


Over a Decade Together


Although Emery’s relationship with video bagan somewhat earlier, our paths first crossed back in 2010 during his time as a coach at Valencia FC when he signed Juanjo Vila from Deportivo La Coruña as a tactical analyst for his coaching staff.


Vila, who had already worked with Nacsport, incorporated the program as the lead tool for his analysis work and, although we’re aware that our software plays a supporting role and depends earlier on the people who use it and act on the insights it provides, it should be noted that that season was one to remember.


Valencia, led by Unai Emery and with Juanjo Vila using Nacsport in the analysis department finished 3rd in La Liga, qualifying for the Champions League the following year.  




Video showing Emery working with Nacsport at Valencia FC


“A Meticulous and Methodical Coach”


Since then, Emery and his team have developed a methodology of work which has been tweaked and refined to perfection over the years.


In an interview with the Daily Olé (the biggest Argentinian newspaper dedicated to sport), Juanjo Vila described Emery as a coach who “absorbs all the knowledge that may be useful to him. He is extremely meticulous and methodical in his work”.


emery ole newspaper


Interview with Juanjo Vila in the Olé daily sports newspaper


Víctor Mañas, a Key Signing


After a short stint at Spartak Moscow, Unai Emery and Juanjo Vila parted ways in a professional sense. Emery landed at Seville FC mid-season in January 2013, a club where Nacsport already had a presence thanks to another Spanish coach, Marcelino García Toral.


The following season, Emery filled the hole left by the departure of Vila by incorporating a new analyst into his staff. 


Victor Mañas had already worked with Emery, right back at the beginning of Emery’s coaching career in 2007, when they worked together at UD Almería. Mañas’s role at this time was as an assistant to the physical trainer, a role which included performance analysis.


With the incorporation of Mañas, the role of video analysis would become increasingly important in Emery’s career throughout the following years.

emery at the helm


With Emery at the helm, this would be a golden age for Seville. The Andalusian club won three consecutive Europa Leagues between 2014 and 2016 as well as playing in the Champions League, an unprecedented milestone in the club’s history.


Victor Mañas with Europa League cup


Back then, we saw evidence that Nacsport was being used intensively by Emery’s coaching staff.


In this tweet, Victor Mañas can be seen preparing for a match in the group stages of the 2015 Champions League against Borussia Moenchengladbach. We can see from the photo that he is analysing at least 12 videos of the German team.



The Strength of Emery’s Coaching Staff


Over the years, and bolstered by every success, Unai Emery has consolidated his coaching staff and their workflows. Amongst them, Juan Carlos Carcedo, now a coach at UD Ibiza, was his second in command, goalkeeping coach, Javi García and the aforementioned Victor Mañas as tactical analyst.


And for all of them, the use of video analysis is non-negotiable. Over the years, the processes for working with video have been tweaked and improved to get the absolute maximum out of the collected data. It is part of daily life within the Emery stable and Nacsport is, generally, the tool of choice.

Emery at arsenal


Unai Emery’s vision is clear...the players are, without doubt, the most prominent part of the team, but it’s the coaching staff that forms the backbone, paving the way for their success.


In fact, the same coaching staff which was brought together at Seville subsequently followed him to Paris Saint Germain and Arsenal FC.


In the following video, subtitled in English and filmed just days before the announcement of their move to Arsenal, Victor Mañas tells us a little more about the work of Emery’s coaching staff.




“The Best Tool to Demonstrate to Players How Things Should Be Done”


These are the words of Unai Emery in a 2019 interview on the official Arsenal FC website, during his time at the English club. “We use video to analyse players, individually and as a team team. We also use it to study our opponents”, explains Emery.


Emery on arsenal tv


Undoubtedly, for the Spanish coach, video analysis "is the best tool to demonstrate to players how things should be done: to see things which are done well and also those things which need to be improved".

No Success Without Controversy


Coaches have always had a complex relationship with their players. It’s a delicate balance which switches between love and hate. Emery’s case is no different.


His obsession with video has generated some unnecessary controversy. Take Neymar Jr.,for example


Coaches have always had a complex relationship with their players, in a delicate balance that moves between love and hate. In Emery's case, it has been no different than the rest. 


His 'obsession' with the video has generated some unnecessary controversy, with stars of the stature of Neymar Jr, who, as reported in the French media, said that he was bored with lengthy video sessions, something that Emery has categorically denied.


Whatever the case, it’s difficult to argue with what Emery and his coaching staff have achieved, winning 11 titles in 7 seasons. And video analysis has always played a more or less prominent role in these successes.


The analysis of 17 Manchester United games is a soundbite which has reached the general consciousness because of Emery’s historic 4th Europa League win. But beyond the spotlight, this is simple reality at any of his clubs. Hours and hours of work which have forged victory.


At Nacsport, we’d like to heartily congratulate Unai Emery, his team and Villarreal FC for winning the Europa League. A special mention must go to Victor Mañas, with whom we’ve developed a close relationship over the years.


So, thank you for your continued support over the years. We’re proud to have made our contribution to your success over the years.

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