Over the last few years, Villarreal have established themselves as a major force in Spanish football. This started in the 2004-2005 season when they finished 3rd in La Liga and qualified for the Champions League, in which they went all the way to the semi finals. The 2007-2008 season saw Villarreal finish in 2nd place in La Liga, which made them the last club to break into the top two of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Last season the El Submarino Amarillo (the Yellow Submarines) qualified for the Champions League again by finishing in 4th place and they also went to the semi finals of the Europa League, where they were routinely beaten by the eventual champions Porto; all of this came under the new management of Juan Carlos Garrido, the former Villarreal B boss brought into replace Ernesto Valverde in February 2010. This season however has been a disaster for the Yellow Submarines as they are currently in 17th place in La Liga, finished bottom of their Champions League with nil points and went out of the Copa Del Rey to Segunda B side Mirandes. This has seen former Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna goalkeeper Jose Francisco Molina come in to replace the sacked Juan Carlos Garrido, but is it all the departed manager’s fault?
Without a doubt, Villarreal have been the underachievers of La Liga this season. The team which has regularly competed for a spot in European competitions are languishing in 17th place and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference due to having one goal more than Sporting Gijon. They have only won three matches this season and they haven’t won an away match. They have conceded 23 goals so far, which isn’t a bad record but they are the league’s joint second lowest scorers with only 13 goals in 17 matches. This is down to the fact that Rossi and Nilmar only have 5 goals between them due to both having played under half of the club’s La Liga matches this season due to injury, while replacement Marco Ruben hasn’t scored enough. The rest of the team have only contributed with 4 goals between them, with set pieces not being as strong as they were in the last few seasons and the midfield is full of creative players (Camunas, De Guzman, Borja Valero) but not any goal scorers. But you don’t go from a good player or manager to a bad one overnight. When Garrido was sacked by the club he released a statement on the club website, which said “Whenever you have a very good year, the next year is very demanding. Therefore, this season has been very complicated, although it is clear that we have failed. I take my responsibility as leader of the group. I accept my dismissal as the coach is always the main culprit. From the beginning, this has been a difficult year and throughout the year setbacks such as injuries and other things have cost us.”
In this statement, Garrido makes two points as to why Villarreal have been struggling this season: His first one was that the team found the success of lasts season hard to succeed as the expectations of them had increased, which made players play more out of fear than for fun. Another reason was that he said that the club has suffered an injury crisis, which resulted in many key players missing a huge chunk of the season. The likes of Nilmar, Marcos Senna, Marcos Ruben, Camunas and Cani have missed a lot of the season so far due to injury; while arguably the team’s best player in Italian striker Giuseppe Rossi will miss most of the season with a cruciate ligament injury. Another reason would be that the injury crisis had led to an unsettled starting eleven with players coming in and out in every game. The club have had 26 players turn out for them this season with the defence and attack having changed in almost every match this season. The final reason is that they failed to replace winger Santi Cazorla properly and the signings of Christian Zapata, Camunas and Jonathan De Guzman haven’t worked out for one reason or another.
Villarreal have taken a massive risk in appoint Jose Francisco Molina as their new manager as this will be is first spell in charge of a La Liga club after previously managing the Villarreal B and C teams. The club should have probably gone for an experienced coach until the end of the season like Rafael Benitez or Juande Ramos but Molina should be able to keep the El Madrigal club away from relegation. This might signal the end of the outfit’s eight year stay as one of the top clubs in Spain and their fortunes can only improve by doing one thing. That one thing is to sell many of their players and rebuild again, with the likes of Nilmar being off form and unsettled at the club. This season has been a disaster for Villarreal so far and I’m sure the club would take a mid table position if it was offered to them. If things don’t change fast, Villarreal could suffer the fates of Deportivo La Coruna, Real Betis and Real Zaragoza whose overachievement for many years all resulted in relegation. In short, the Yellow Submarines are in danger of sinking.
Also, can you sign this petition to help Barnet FC stay at Underhill for the foreseeable future as they have been told by the Football League they can’t stay there next season due to Barnet Council’s pathetic stipulations and hypocrisy. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keeping-barnet-fc-at-underhill/