By George Overhill

28th Sep, 2023 | 8:10am

BBC pundit baffled by 'strange' Unai Emery move as Aston Villa failed on return to Europe

We’re delighted to welcome former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Villa Park…

Unai Emery’s team selection as Aston Villa lost on their return to Europe against Legia Warsaw was a “bit strange” according to Alan Hutton.

The Villans were on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline in Poland on 21 September and the BBC pundit can’t work out whether the manager is looking to actually win the trophy or just use the extra matches to give peripheral players game time.

Emery brought in the likes of Clement Lenglet and Calum Chambers at the back and it ultimately cost the game through errors, and Hutton found it confusing in light the long absence from European competition.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News he said: “I found this one a bit strange. Obviously it’s the first time they’ve been in Europe in a long, long time.

“When I’d see the line up, yes it’s strong but the mix that he brought in, players like Chambers and Lenglet, these kind of guys. 

“[Jhon] Duran played up front as well, who I thought has done well recently so it’s not a slight on him.

“But I just think he’s not gone full strength, when they get back for the Chelsea game that looks like it’s his strongest team.

“Maybe he just thought there’s an opportunity to rotate slightly to give people an opportunity and they would still be able to win the game.

“Warsaw had done well and they deserve to win the game, but we’ll see in the next game whether he goes strong and how he’s looking at this tournament.

“Is he looking to try and go all the way and win it or is he using it to give the squad games?”

West Ham showed last season that the Europa Conference League is winnable, and what it can do for a club to do so.

Unless Emery thinks that his Aston Villa side are going to suffer in the Premier League if he places too much importance on continental success then it would be disappointing to see the club not make their mark.

Any trophy would be an excellent marker for the progress under the Spaniard, and particularly a European one, so fans are bound to want to see an improvement after the disappointing start.

In other Aston Villa news, Hutton wasn’t particularly impressed by a surprise appearance for the win against Chelsea.