PARIS — Unai Emery will not be Paris Saint-Germain coach next season. The Spaniard confirmed this during his Friday prematch news conference after informing his players, so will oversee his penultimate match at Parc des Princes against Guingamp in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
With the title already confirmed and the Coupe de France final to come next month, there is little for the French capital outfit to fight for at present — with the exception of becoming the first Ligue 1 side to reach the 100-point mark in Le Championnat.
Emery’s time with PSG will primarily be remembered for their Champions League failures against both Barcelona and Real Madrid, but he will also leave with a number of domestic trophies (six, possibly seven) and could still oversee Les Parisiens‘ most numerically successful top-flight campaign ever.
Seven points from a possible 12 will be enough to set a new record points haul of 97, but 10 points or better will secure the first-ever 100-point total in Ligue 1 history.
Emery is confident that despite their successes already this term, that his players will pick up three more points against Guingamp this weekend.
“The players know their goals and are going to do everything to achieve them,” the Spaniard told journalists at Camp des Loges. “It is important to do that when you are playing in a PSG shirt.
“You have to be motivated and show desire in each game — the players will do what is necessary to pick up the three points in front of our fans against Guingamp.”
Despite some difficult periods, notably the two Champions League round-of-16 exits to opponents from his home country, there have been some highs under Emery — notably the 4-0 first-leg thumping of Barcelona in last season’s continental quest.
The Basque tactician has also handled himself admirably, particularly since the 5-2 aggregate exit at the hands of Real, and has chosen to look back at his time in Paris as a positive learning experience.
Emery also continues to speak positively about PSG, despite the fact that the writing has been on the wall regarding his future since this campaign’s European exit was confirmed by Zinedine Zidane’s men, and rightly pointed out that there is still work to be done against Vendee Les Herbiers at Stade de France in the Coupe de France.
“It has been a great experience to coach here in Paris,” the former Sevilla boss told journalists at Camp des Loges. “I have improved as a coach.
“My first six months were difficult, because I had to adapt to the team and them to me. We managed to deal with the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. From January 2017, the team has constantly improved.
“Getting knocked out by Barcelona was tough, especially after the first leg in Paris, which was one of the best performances of these last two years. This year, we have had another good season, and we still have the Coupe de France to win.”
Despite that and despite Emery’s positive spin on his time at Parc des Princes, there is no disguising that his spell will forever be associated will failing to live up to Laurent Blanc’s regular Champions League quarterfinal finishes.
The man from Hondarribia is confident that his successor, expected to be Thomas Tuchel, will inherit a squad primed for continental success, but the truth is that it was already good enough during his time in charge to do better than consecutive last-16 exits.
“The Champions League exit was a disappointment,” admitted Emery. “However, Real have won three of the last four seasons and they can win it again. This team is better prepared for next season’s competition.
“I believe in this project, which is very solid. To achieve the club’s objective, which is to win the Champions League, we have to be very strong in France — we have to keep being patient.
“To win in Europe, you have to take things little by little. I am sure PSG will end up achieving that goal.”
Guingamp on Sunday might not be a direct step towards that goal, but it if it helps PSG towards the 100-point mark, it could count in the end of the Emery era being viewed in a more positive light — something that the man deserves.
Funnily enough, he will come up against former PSG player and coach Antoine Kombouare this weekend, somebody else who knows all about unceremonious Parc des Princes exits.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.