Tell us about your supporters’ club…
“It’s called Penya Celtic Submari supporters’ club. We are moving to a new place as we speak actually, but I told them I wouldn’t be able to help as I was talking to Manchester United [laughs]! It’s a new place, bigger, with better conditions. You are all invited to join us when United play here, because it seems something tells us to play against Manchester again and again! In Villarreal they tell an anecdote that we wanted to play a friendly against Manchester years ago, and Sir Alex Ferguson said we were not good enough! I don’t know if it’s true…”
You mentioned your manager earlier. In England, Unai Emery is associated with Arsenal, where he wasn’t so successful, but is he untouchable at Villarreal after the final in Gdansk?
“At this moment. Though results are results and finally they always decide in football! And I think you have more patience in England than we have in Spain. In Gdansk, before the match, Emery gave [Vicente] Iborra, who was injured, the chance to be the leader and make a short speech. There is a video of it and it almost made me cry! That was important; it gave the team a lift. He’s a good coach, but maybe a better psychologist and communicator. He’s been one of the best we’ve ever had, together with [Manuel] Pellegrini. He always surprises.”
What are your ambitions for this season, now you’ve bagged that first trophy?
“Our next ambition, or our next dream, probably would be to win the league, but that’s much more difficult. In a final, it’s only one match. During a long competition like a league, match after match after match, the gap to your rivals can become too big. But we’ve bought very good new footballers actually. I think we spent or invested more than any other Spanish team during this summer, beating even Barcelona – which is not difficult at the moment! – and Real Madrid. But we still have to build a good team with those players.”
This interview was first published in United Review, prior to the clash with Villarreal at Old Trafford in September.