2014-15 Coach of the Season: Unai Emery

Sevilla Coach Unai Emery consolidated on an impressive season last time out by once more guiding his team to a fifth-placed La Liga finish, in addition to retaining the Europa League. These feats were accomplished in testing circumstances for the Spaniard in his second full year at the helm. 

Club captain and midfield playmaker Ivan Rakitic was sold to Barcelona for €20m, leaving a gaping hole at the heart of Emery’s side. Talented young left-back Alberto Moreno also departed for Liverpool, on the back of a fine season in Seville that saw him break into the Spain team.

Additionally, central defender Federico Fazio was picked off by Tottenham, leaving the trainer with some key positions to fill. The money received for these three important players was not made readily available to Emery, who spent considerably less than the total amount raised by the departures.

Loan deals for Nicolas Pareja and Stephane Mbia were made permanent, the latter on a free transfer, while Denis Suarez joined on a temporary basis from Barcelona as part of the Rakitic deal. Perhaps Emery’s most astute piece of business was the €4.5m he paid for the services of Grzegorz Krychowiak, who performed superbly throughout the season in the midfield engine room, while Ever Banega also proved a good signing.

It was a far tougher summer for Emery compared to some other Coaches in La Liga, such as Barcelona’s title-winning Luis Enrique. The new boss at Camp Nou was bestowed with the blockbuster signing of Luis Suarez to complete a ruthless attacking trident alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi, with the Catalans flexing their financial muscle in the transfer market once more.

Enrique has undoubtedly done an excellent job in his first season in charge, staving off the challenge of similarly big-spending Real Madrid to win La Liga, and leading Barca to the verge of an incredible treble. Yet the task of a Coach is made much easier when the transfer kitty is enormous, the most talented players from the League’s chasing pack can be cherry-picked and one of the game’s greatest-ever players pulls on their jersey each week.

Despite finishing the season in the same fifth place, Sevilla ended the campaign with 13 more points than last time out. Emery managed to get his team within two points of defending champions Atletico Madrid in third and narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification by a point to Valencia. Meanwhile, they cemented a 16-point gap ahead of sixth-placed Villarreal.

It’s to Emery’s credit that he was able to pick up his troops from the final-day disappointment of missing out on the Champions League to exhibit their attractive and fluent football in the Europa League final just a few days later. He successfully retained the crown and Sevilla became the first team to win the tournament four times, in doing so gaining qualification to the Champions League.

It was a fitting way to cap an impressive season for the in-demand Coach, who will look to build on the success of this campaign – if he stays at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, that is.