Jérémy Perbet has scored three times in as many starts. Javier Aquino made international headlines by signing for a second-division Spanish club. But what does added depth mean for Villarreal going forward?
The tangible impact of the winter transfer window buying (and selling) spree remains to be seen. Marcelino García Toral has started his career at the helm of the Yellow Submarine with generally positive results: 12 points in 7 matches (including an away win!). With the return of Ikechukwu Uche, the remaining four signings are not undisputed first-choice selections. So how can Chechu Dorado, Aitor Fernández, Juanma Gómez, and Jonathan Pereira impact Villarreal CF down the stretch of the Segunda season?
Strength in numbers. Injuries and dips in form go hand-in-hand with football. With a healthy Olof Mellberg, it might be nice to sit Mateo Musacchio for a match. Before Dorado arrived in Vila-real, that was unthinkable with Truyols and Íñiguez as cover. Not so now.
Similarly, Marcos Senna's latest pulled hamstring is not as much of a concern with Javier Farinós in the mix. We could have used Senna's penalty-taking ability against Las Palmas, though. And Marcelino was in no rush to bring back Uche against Hércules, in part because of Jony's presence. That did not keep the diminutive Galician in the starting XI for long, however.
Professionalism. Dorado and Juanma have received praise for their work ethic and positive mentality, something this Villarreal side desperately lacked. And say what you will, but Rubén Cani's best performances (until his recent long-term injury) have come after Juanma's arrival. Also, maybe Mario Gaspar has learned a few things from Dorado, as our right back has excelled in recent weeks. A little competition never hurt anyone, and perhaps it is bringing out the best of this to-date underachieving bunch in yellow.
Late-game options. Say what you will about Julio Velázquez -- overmatched and tactically naive, among other issues -- but he did not possess the same resources that Marcelino does. Need to bring on attack for defense? Slide Dorado (or Bruno) into the back four, and push the goal scorers in the doble pivote forward. Need a late goal? Choose from aerial ability (Perbet), experience (Uche), or pace (Gerard or Jony). Need to close out a match? Bring on a third holding midfielder (Farinos or Senna) or central defender (Dorado or Musacchio), or play in the opposing end with a pacey winger (Aquino or Moi). Choices, choices.
The depth we have been lacking has finally arrived in Vila-real. But will it be enough to achieve promotion in 2012-13? The jury is still out.