On October 24, 2022, Unai Emery took over as Aston Villa head coach after leaving his position at LaLiga club Villarreal. Emery had previously spent two-and-a-half years at Villarreal, during which he won the UEFA Europa League, defeating Manchester United in the 2020/21 season.
When Steven Gerrard became head coach of Aston Villa, many saw it as a defining moment for the club. After being promoted in 2019 and surviving under Dean Smith, Gerrard, a former England midfielder who had done well at Rangers, was viewed as the big name that would establish them as a Premier League staple. Despite spending a lot of money and showing flashes of quality, the team began to drift in October, with poor results and a lack of identity causing fan unrest. The club needed a reset and a coach with a proven track record.
Enter Unai Emery. Despite having to follow in the footsteps of a legend, Emery has turned Aston Villa's season around since the World Cup break, and the team is almost unrecognizable. They have scored in every league game under his guidance, setting an impressive new Premier League record. While Mikel Arteta or Pep Guardiola might be the obvious choices for Manager of the Season, the transformation instigated by Emery's changes to the squad, tactics, and identity has been remarkable. Under Emery, striker Ollie Watkins has gone from a player lacking confidence to a prolific goal scorer.
Unai Emery's impact on Aston Villa has been phenomenal, and he deserves recognition for his contributions. Despite the strong competition, Emery's impressive turnaround of the team's fortunes makes him a serious contender for Manager of the Season. Since the turn of the year, his Villa side lead the league on points with 36 picked up, more than Manchester City on 34 and Arsenal on 32.