Unai Emery has been on the radar of Europe’s top clubs since guiding Valencia to three successive third-place finishes at the start of the decade, but his employability should ascend to record heights after not only winning the Europa League but retaining it.
The 43-year-old has declined to commit his future to Sevilla, but the alternatives discussed so far are pretty underwhelming for a man of such accolades, with AC Milan – who aren’t even offering Europa League football – perceived to be frontrunners. Tellingly, he is presumed more likely to be hired by West Ham at [16.0] than he is to be entrusted with the Real Madrid position at [21.0].
However, our “where are they now” look back at the other UEFA Cup/Europa League deliverers of the last ten years shows that enticing opportunities usually present themselves…
Rafael Benitez (Chelsea, 2013)
Benitez spent 23 months out of work before rather demeaningly being forced to accept an interim role at Chelsea just to get his face back out there. It proved to be worthwhile though, as winning the Europa League attracted Napoli’s attention, restoring him to the Champions League. Two years of pretty much “par” performance later, he is the [1.05] favourite to take over at Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid, 2012)
Like Benitez at Chelsea, Simeone at Atletico Madrid was a case of a mid-season appointment working out spectacularly well. A coach who had nomadically cycled through six jobs in little over five years finally found somewhere to call home, later lifting the Copa del Rey away to Real Madrid in 2013 and then implausibly topping La Liga and reaching the Champions League final in 2014.
Andre Villas-Boas (Porto, 2011)
The AVB example is the clearest evidence available of how a Europa League win can launch a career. A year earlier, he was Academica boss, but this cherry on top of an unbeaten league campaign and domestic cup triumph earned him the Chelsea gig vacated by Ancelotti. England treated him harshly, as he lasted nine months at Stamford Bridge and 17 at Tottenham, yet he is back on the rise at Zenit St Petersburg, taking the Russian Premier League title to a backdrop of anti-football critique.
Quique Flores (Atletico Madrid, 2010)
The first tactician to steer Atletico to this trophy was one of the few not to build on it. He stayed in the Spanish capital in 2010/11, landing the UEFA Super Cup and climbing a few league positions, but seeing the continental defence collapse in the group stage, then moved to the UAE for spells with Al-Ahli and Al-Ain. He returned to Spain this January with Getafe, leaving a month later, and is suddenly making headlines in England as a possible Slavisa Jokanovic replacement at Watford.
Mircea Lucescu (Shakhtar, 2009)
Lucescu has been at Shakhtar for every day of the six years since leading them to this maiden European success, building further to achieve five straight Ukrainian titles and three Champions League knockout appearances. They were consistently improving until the political situation in the region hindered their progress this term – having to relocate and losing key players as a result – and even then they have remained admirably competitive.
Dick Advocaat (Zenit St Petersburg, 2008)
Sunderland’s most recent relegation resister oversaw Zenit St Petersburg’s Gazprom-assisted rise to prominence, earning their first Russian and European titles, though he arguably outstayed his welcome, getting sacked a year later. Short stints at Belgium, AZ Alkmaar, Russia, PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar again, Serbia and Sunderland followed, none of them as memorable as his time in Russia.
Juande Ramos (Sevilla, 2006 and 2007)
Ramos was the closest parallel to Emery, scaling the Spanish ladder to get to Sevilla and then raising eyebrows outside of his homeland with two European titles. He made a somewhat sideways move to Tottenham, a team on the periphery of their division’s elite like Sevilla. It initially brought more silverware in the League Cup but fell apart swiftly, spawning Harry Redknapp’s favourite “two points from eight games” soundbite. Ramos retained fans at home, receiving a surprise reign at Real Madrid in which he exceeded expectations, before heading on to CSKA Moscow and Dnipro.