As an avid B team follower-- though it's been hard to find streams recently-- maddi wanted me to write about our new manager Juan Carlos Garrido. Having failed to do this in the Valverde era, I figured the clock was ticking until June (when Garrido's contract is up). I think Garrido will stick around for a few years, though, and here's why.
Demeanor: What we first noticed about Valverde, aside from his physical condition as an ex-footballer, were his sideline antics. Like Pellegrini, Valverde was rather reserved on the touchline, but his emotions were not reassuring-- dour looks rather than positive encouragement.
In contrast, Garrido is much more positive, but this may correlate with the low expectations placed on a B team manager, not to mention that winning cures all ills. Let's see how he handles somewhat out-of-favor veterans Robert Pires, Ariel Ibagaza, and Javi Venta. All in all, I expect a more positive atmosphere around the club.
Familiarity: As a Washington Capitals fan, I understand why Garrido's coaching history works for a club with a successful developmental system. And there's no disputing that Villarreal has one of the best academies in Spain; Garrido's nine years in charge of it surely played a part. As a soccer fan, the success of Pep Guardiola at Barcelona is inspiring but utterly unrealistic.
But Garrido already has a greater familiarity with our personnel than Valverde ever did. Sure, Valverde coached and played in La Liga for years, but aside from his time at Espanyol, Villarreal CF was irrelevant. At best, Valverde knew of Capdevila (then at Deportivo), Javi Venta, Angel Lopez (Celta), Senna, Cani (Zaragoza), and Llorente (Valladolid). That's not enough to play Pellegrini-style football.
Expectations: Garrido will benefit from lowered expectations after the disastrous start to this campaign. My patience with Valverde through the end of 2009 stemmed from a belief that, while the squad may be the strongest in club history, building a team like Pellegrini's would take time. Unfortunately, with the unceremonious Copa del Rey exit and continued mediocrity in the league, time was not on Ernesto's side.
If Garrido takes the club from its current 10th position to 6th by season's end, he will be a hero. That's 8 points away with 18 matches left, though we're only 9 points above the drop zone. And of the teams ahead of us, I'm only confident that Athletic Bilbao will be in the top 8 by season's end. Call me crazy, but teams like Mallorca and Deportivo have a lot of work left to finish above mid-table.
And here comes a nice stretch of games to right the Submarino Amarillo. If we get a result in Mallorca, February sets up perfectly to make up ground on our direct rivals, as Athletic and Deportivo come to El Madrigal. Quickly developing a squad rotation will be important, as the Europa League returns in two weeks.
Conclusion: The pieces are in place for Juan Carlos Garrido to succeed as Villarreal CF's next manager. The entire club is behind him, and he knows what the players, management, and fans expect. Senor Garrido, it's time to stand and deliver.