Yesterday I gave the argument for Escriba’s contract renewal. So what’s the other side of the coin? Well, let me say up front I come down on the side of what I wrote yesterday, but the other side is worth looking at.
54 points is fine, but.....
(1) Given our roster, it’s not that impressive. You’d expect us to be in the top 6-9 clubs in La Liga if you just look at the value of each team’s rosters (per transfermarkt).
(2) We’ve looked unmotivated in some important matches. The first half of our match against Alaves is a good example, so too our away match at Athletic Club, where we were second best in every department and hardly threatened.
(3) Tactical decisions that led us to drop points—going for the win and getting caught out by an Eibar counterattack in our first match being the best example.
(4) Mental frailty—when up 2-0 against Real Madrid, we sat back too much expecting them to get in the game, and then (as in the second Eibar match) letting bad refereeing decisions get inside our heads.
How reasonable are these criticisms? There is some truth to all of them, but over a 38-game season, it’s easy to find a match or two that didn’t go well, or where the tactics didn’t work out.
The roster argument has merit, sure, but it’s also unfair to Escribá. After all, Valencia ranks higher than we do on that list, and they are nowhere near the European places.
To me, the big reasons why some won’t be happy if Escriba is reappointed have less to do with the wins and losses, and more with passion...or intangibles.
Escribá was an excellent coach at Elche, both in the Segunda and in the Primera. He managed a limited roster very well, though he failed to repeat that success at Getafe. But managing a team with greater ambitions than just survival, with a roster that suggests it can challenge for at least the top six if not top five or four—that can be a different skill set.
Europe. Escribá has himself said he didn’t do a good job with the Europa League. We were drawn into what on paper was an easy group, and we barely qualified for the round of 32. Everything was far too tight and we gave up far too many easy goals. And then, in the round of 32, we had a terrible draw (Roma) and we collapsed at home to a 4-0 defeat. That loss, and the loss to Osmanlispor at home in the group stage, were bitter pills for Villarreal fans to swallow, accustomed as they are to see us play well at home in European matches.
Do we have a real signature win this season? I’d say yes, beating Atleti 3-0 in El Madrigal, though some might disagree. If we had held on to defeat Real Madrid, sure; if we had beaten Barcelona, sure. But we didn’t. And nothing in Europe or the Copa to get the fanbase excited and point to as a big success.
None of these points necessarily translate into an argument why Escribá should not be retained—but I think they do explain why—so far—the fans are sort of lukewarm on him.
What do you think?