After yet another subpar result in Almería, Villarreal has fired young manager Julio Velázquez effective immediately. No word on a contract buyout, but he is likely due some compensation through year-end.
Rumors abound that a new boss will take over in the next 48 hours. Velázquez will address the media tomorrow morning, then depart Vila-real. Our best wishes to him -- a tough situation all the way around.
The Velázquez era was almost an accident: Manolo Preciado's untimely passing forced Villarreal management to scramble for a replacement. Velázquez caught our eye through his efforts with Poli Ejido in 2010-11, and we brought him over to coach the 'C' team in the Tercera Regional. Fast forward one year, and he accompanied the likes of Manu Trigueros and Moi Gómez to the 'A' team in the Segunda.
After a fast start against the soft underbelly of the schedule, Villarreal has struggled for goals and consistency. The strikers have not been as advertised, suspensions have affected key players, and our creative players have not delivered. Combine that with plain bad luck and an on-fire Elche, and the club can barely see the top of the table.
Despite outward support from co-captains Marcos Senna, Bruno Soriano, and Rubén Cani, the end was in sight for Velázquez. With Villarreal sitting in seventh place at the halfway mark of the season, barely holding on to a playoff spot, club management has decided to pull the trigger. Most fans would agree that something is wrong with the Yellow Submarine, and it is easier to change one manager than an entire squad of players.
The favorite to replace Velázquez is likely the experienced Gregorio Manzano, formerly the boss of Atlético Madrid (twice), Sevilla, Mallorca (twice), Málaga, Rayo Vallecano, Racing Santander, and Valladolid over the past fifteen years. Quite a long list, and he was very successful at most of his stops. Atlético proved a bridge too far, but that sounds similar to the Madrid experience of our last long-term manager. And look how he is doing at Málaga now...
More to come in the coming days, including the ubiquitous Unai Emery rumors. Keep it here.