Villarreal are renowned for being one of the best run clubs in Spain, hence why it raised so many eyebrows when Quique Setien was dismissed after just four games.
The Yellow Submarine have won just once in their opening fixtures, picking up a 1-0 victory over Real Mallorca, amidst defeats to Cadiz, Barcelona and Real Betis. One of the favourites for a spot in the top four, no doubt their odds have taken a blow – which can be checked at TPP Kickform.
While the results were no doubt an indicator, it has been widely reported that the main reason for his sacking were his relations with the senior leadership group of the squad. Dani Parejo, Raul Albiol, Etienne Capoue and Pepe Reina, all well into their thirties, did not click with Setien, despite him securing a fifth place finish last season.
In fact, Setien had the fourth best win percentage in Villarreal history, and took over the side in ninth position. The likes of Nicolas Jackson and Samu Chukwueze had never looked better, while it appears Alex Baena and Ramon Terrats have stated their claim to be among the top talents in Spain. Clearly Fernando Roig considered the wounds too deep to be healed with Setien in the building.
It raises questions as to why Roig placed his confidence in Setien over the summer, when these issues were already known about last season. It appeared as if either the Cantabrian coach or the veterans would have to go. Now though, he faces a crucial decision.
Javi Gracia, Julen Lopetegui and Marcelo Gallardo have been linked with the position, and whomever gets the role could be decisive in the direction of the club over the next few years. Under Unai Emery, Villarreal were largely disappointing in La Liga, never quite challenging for fourth place in the way many felt they should. His performances in Europe were outstanding though, and catapulted the club forward.
Having made profits of nearly €100m this summer though, Villarreal are once again relying on their next manager to work with younger talents and get the best out of them for their La Liga challenge, rather than stocking their squad with renewed, established talent.
With that comes a risk. If Villarreal cannot find a manager to move them forward, they risk being left behind by the likes of Real Sociedad and Real Betis, as they compete to become the fourth force in Spanish football. It will be two years without Champions League money next summer, and while balancing the books is important, one thing Villarreal have done well is show ambition in recent years. That ambition should be evident in their next appointment, which will very much place the focus on Roig, in terms of attributing responsibility for a successful season or not.