Unai Emery gave an awkward post-match interview after Aston Villa suffered a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United after a second-half capitulation.
The Aston Villa manager started his interview in a blunt and tentative fashion, punctuating his words with thoughtful chin strokes and uneasy laughs.
He had just seen his side’s 2-0 lead devastated by a burst of second-half brilliance by Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund, as Man United fought back to claim a thrilling victory.
Goals from John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker had put Villa on course for a win which would have taken Aston Villa joint top of the Premier League.
Despite their second half collapse, Emery was in no mood to entertain negative talk.
Unai Emery initially ignored a question about what went wrong against Manchester United, answering: ‘Thirty-nine points. It’s amazing!’
Aston Villa capitulated in the second half as United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at home
Asked what went wrong, he told Amazon Prime Sports: ‘Thirty nine points. It’s amazing.
Laughing, he said: ‘Now you’re asking me in another direction! Good, good, only analyse tonight. Sixty minutes, fantastic. Fantastic.’
After wins over Manchester City and Arsenal, Villa had emerged as surprise Premier League title challengers but followed a draw against struggling Sheffield United by surrendering a 2-0 lead to Man United.
The defeat was their first defeat since November 5 and keeps Aston Villa in third place, but after the terse start to the interview, Emery opened up about the game.
The Spaniard was keen to focus on the lessons his team could take from the match.
He said: ‘Manchester United, when they scored the first goal, the supporters here, they came back, the atmosphere, pushing them. And they have very good players.
‘Of course, we had to be demanding but accepting as well. One team like Manchester United here can come back like they did.
Rasmus Hojlund struck late on to complete Man United’s 3-2 comeback against Aston Villa – and bag his first Premier League goal
Alejandro Garnacho scored a brace in the second-half to get United back on level terms
Emery chuckled to himself in his post-match interview and was initially reluctant to talk about the loss
‘I want to analyse this match with the first 60 minutes we played, very good. Then of course we have to take experiences and we have to improve in the level we want to get, the level we want to achieve.
‘Our players are now taking experiences. Manchester United, they have more experiences than us, more time being in the top level, the players and the club and the team. We move on. In the end, very disappointed, but accepting, and trying to understand all our first part of the season.’
Villa are comfortably in the top four and 15 wins in a row at Villa Park, until Sheffied United interrupted the streak with a 1-1 draw last week.
Their stunning performances have inevitably invited talk of a title tilt, but Emery cooled expectations and insisted that other teams are still more favoured than them.
He said: ‘Now, you can ask me if we are contender to be a trophy or to win a title. [Are you?] No, but not now, two weeks ago I was thinking the same. Why? Because we are playing seven top teams, they are contenders more than us.
‘Of course we are being consistent and better than a lot of teams being in the top position, but 19 matches today, and today we missed a great opportunity to be consistently in our way against the top 10 teams being there.
John McGinn (R) had given Aston Villa the lead after his free-kick found it’s way into the net
Leander Dendoncker (R) then doubled the visitors’ advantage with a neat flick but Villa were undone after the break
‘But that happens like tonight, the reaction after the first goal conceded, we reacted with two good chances.
‘Today, we could win and we could lose, and we lost.
‘Move on, be demanding. I told the players it’s fantastic the first part of the season, but I want more. And if they want more, we have to work hard to get it.’
Villa’s next assignment will be against Burnley on Saturday.