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The Case for Escribá

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One of two articles, the other making the opposite argument.

FC Zurich v Villarreal CF - UEFA Europa League Photo by Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images

As everyone knows, Coach Escribá signed a one-year deal when he took over in August 2016. There has been a lot of discussion about whether he should be, or will be, offered a new deal, and the fanbase is divided. So I am going to give you two sides of the coin—this article will make the case for his renewal, the one tomorrow will argue we should find someone else.

Record in La Liga and Europe: similar to Marcelino

This article is a month old now but puts it very well. In terms of on-the-pitch metrics, Escriba’s Villarreal is no worse—and in some ways better than—Marcelino’s last Villarreal side. We are scoring slightly more goals (46 this season, versus 44 a year ago) and allowing fewer (26 with 6 matches left, versus 35 in 2015-16). We are also taking more shots on goal.

In fact, I would go even further back to make the same point. Remember that in 2013, Marcelino brought us back to the Primera. Here is his record once he got there:

2013-14 6th place 59 points (11 points out of 4th), 60 scored, 44 given up

Copa del Rey: won vs Elche, lost vs Real Sociedad

2014-15 6th place 60 points (17 out of 4th), 48 scored, 37 given up

Europe: won EL qualifying round vs Astana, 11 pts in group stage (2nd), won in round of 32, lost in round of 16 vs Sevilla

Copa: defeated Cadiz, Real Sociedad, Getafe, lost to Barcelona in semis

2015-16 4th place 64 points (24 out of 3rd!), 44 scored, 35 given up

Europe: EL group stage, 13 points (finished first), defeated Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Sparta Prague before losing to Liverpool in semis

Copa: defeated Huesca, lost to Athletic Club

Escribá’s record this season:

2016-17 (so far) 5th place, 54 points, eight out of fourth; 46 scored, 26 against.

Europe: lost Champions League playoff to Monaco (who look likely to make the CL semifinal and are leading the French league right now). Pato and Santos Borré were our only two available strikers, in case you had forgotten, and in the first match we played Alfred N’Diaye at center back, which was a disaster.

Europa League: 9 points from group stage (finished 2nd), lost to Roma in round of 32.

Copa: defeated Toledo, lost to Real Sociedad.

Looking at that, it seems pretty clear that Escriba has kept things going pretty well. Marce had one good Copa run (his second Primera season), one good Europa League run (his third Primera season), and between 59 and 64 points. With 54 already, we are likely to end up somewhere in there.

Calming influence:

Our last two coaches in the Primera (Garrido and Marcelino) were both fiery micromanagers. It was a cottage industry with both to figure out who was in the ‘doghouse’ this week or month—players would suddenly disappear (Cani) or never play at all (Wakaso, Jefferson Montero). Escriba projects a calm demeanor on the sideline but he also keeps things very professional. If there are dressing-room spats, we don’t hear about them. Players all get their opportunity to play; sometimes the rotations don’t totally work out (as against Alaves) but no one can deny they have had a chance to contribute.

Escribá came in late, and this is not his team:

Marcelino had the advantage of spending the entire summer in charge of the team, he certainly had input into the players we signed. Contrast that with Escribá, who had no input into summer signings, and very little opportunity to figure out how to best use them.

Escribá admitted he was not pleased with his efforts in Europe—it is a learning experience, juggling players and the need to do well in the league—but has certainly learned from that. Again, not that different from Marcelino’s first European experience (we had to defeat Apollon Limassol in our last group stage match to move on, you may recall).

Even in January, the only real activity was Pato’s sale, with Adrián López picked up again—and Escriba has used him fairly well.

The fanbase in Vila-real can expect too much sometimes:

The flip side of Escribá’s calm demeanor is, he doesn’t excite the fanbase much. Well, that’s the fanbase’s problem. We don’t have the financial resources of five or six other clubs in the Primera, but we have done a superb job of keeping the project going, except for 2011-12.

Of course we want to win every match. But as long as Villarreal stay in the Primera, finish in the European places most years, and have a good run now and then (winning a trophy would be awesome, we keep getting knocked off in the semis), shouldn’t that be enough? Especially when we compete well against the Barcelonas and Real Madrids of La Liga?

All in all, Escribá deserves a chance to grow in the job the way Marcelino did, with a two or three year contract. Give him one.