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Villarreal star Alex Baena defends Unai Emery and Quique Setién

Baena has been superb so far this season

Villarreal CF v Hapoel Be’er Sheva: Group C - UEFA Europa Conference League
Baena has been one of Villarreal’s most dangerous players
Photo by Jose Miguel Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Alex Baena has defended Unai Emery and Quique Setién after the change in manager at Villarreal.

The Yellows were left searching for new coach recently when Emery left for Aston Villa. Emery almost left for Newcastle United last year, but he wound up staying, leading Villarreal to the Champions League semi-final.

It was a difficult one to take for Yellows owner Fernando Roig, who claimed the club had been left ‘screwed’ by Emery’s decision.

But while some have criticised Emery - the star of this season so far - Baena, has defended his former boss.

“It was a bit weird. Nobody expected it. It was from one afternoon to another. Last year I lived it far away and it seemed that the same situation was going to happen, that he was going to leave, but in the end no,” Baena told Marca.

“But it was a professional decision, which everyone may not understand, but those of us who are part of this can understand it. Emotionally, it left us a little shaken because we already had the work done, from many years together... it was a bit hard to resume everything with a new coach with a new system and a new game mentality.

“But we are a squad that looks like a family and everything will be fine. We are together with the coach and continue forward.”

Baena has been superb so far this season, earning a call-up to Luis de la Fuente’s Spain under-21 squad this winter.

Villarreal CF v RCD Mallorca - LaLiga Santander Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

And he will be keen to kick on when the club fixtures resume, though he does understand it’s going to take time for Setién, who has had a tricky start, to get his feet under the table at Villarreal.

“Any coach who had come would have been very difficult. On top of that they do not follow the results, it generates more tension and doubts,” Baena added. “The meeting was to talk among ourselves, all together to reach an agreement and go together as one.

“In the end, we are all with the coach and we will try to do our best to adapt to his idea as quickly as possible. The break has been very good for us to work and clear our minds of all these weeks.”