On a plinth at the mouth of the tunnel at Villa Park stands a replica of the most coveted trophy in club football.
Aston Villa lifted the European Cup in 1982 and this season have decided to shout about it again.
Unai Emery’s side could set a club record of 14 consecutive home wins on Wednesday. Win again in front of their own fans on Saturday and they will be reaching giddy heights.
The problem is that their opponents are Manchester City and Arsenal. That would have felt a near-impossible task before Emery took control, but now they have no reason to feel intimidated. The home wins have been spectacular, a product of Emery’s remarkable levels of detail and his ferocious demands.
Previously, players were not expected to hang around at Bodymoor Heath for long after training. The afternoon is a golden time for Emery, however, who holds meetings with players and illustrates his points on an iPad.
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has helped transform Villa Park into an absolute fortress
Villa have won 13 consecutive home games in a row and will set a club record with one more
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As he considered Wednesday’s meeting with Pep Guardiola’s side, Villa’s Spanish manager was unusually expansive.
‘Players can always improve, and they can improve their attitudes too if they want to sacrifice their lives thinking more about football,’ he said. ‘It’s not only at the training ground, it’s important they have this attitude at home.
‘I am never going to police their private lives, but what is completely necessary for me is that football is the priority.
‘The mentality is to think football and show high commitment to your club and your team-mates.
‘We support every player when they make mistakes and they are mature and responsible to accept them. It’s important to be responsible and mature in their private lives as well.’
The European Cup is a glorious piece of Villa’s past, yet if Emery realises his dreams, it could be part of their present too.
However, the task couldn’t be tougher, with a home game against Manchester City to come