Today is not the first time Villarreal has changed managers in midseason, but it has to be one of the earliest times in the season when it’s happened— Joaquín Caparrós’s seven-match stint in the fall of 1999 is the the only other one in recent times that happened so soon in the campaign. (Caparros’s squad had 9 points from 7 matches, he had just joined Villarreal in the summer, and we were in the Segunda, having been relegated the season before).
Generally, we have waited until near the January window to sack a coach:
Benito Floro was let go in February 2004, replaced by Pellegrini.
Ernesto Valverde was let go in January 2010, replaced by Garrido.
Garrido was let go in December 2011, replaced by Molina.
Julio Velázquez was let go in January 2013, replaced by Marcelino.
So yes, Escribá’s departure is the earliest in a season proper (I’m not counting Marce since he didn’t start the 2016-17 season with us). On the other hand, except for Garrido, none of the other coaches in the above list coached a full season with Villarreal.
Sr. Roig complained earlier this month about Villarreal supporters not supporting the team and its coach enough, which makes the timing of Escribá’s departure even more curious.
My feeling is that the Villarreal directorate was never that convinced by Escribá (evidenced by him receiving only a one-year contract), but I also believe the 2011-12 season might have been in their thinking—a lot. As this season, we had a poor preseason; we had injuries, most notably Giuseppe Rossi’s, to be sure, but as the season wore on players seemed to lose confidence and fear failure more than anything else, and we didn’t seem physically or mentally fit for the challenge of the season.
There are differences: most notably, money was tight in that season, as we overspent hoping for Champions League success, and the players Garrido wanted didn’t succeed with us. This season, money has been available, and it’s not clear Escribá had a lot of input into the summer signings. But, worryingly, some of those players signed to develop (Unal, Semedo) haven’t contributed much so far.
I also wonder to what degree Escribá felt it was time to make a change, too. Something happened between the last few matches of last season and the first six of this season, and maybe there were goings-on behind the scenes as happened with Marcelino. We won’t know.
And so Javi Calleja, like Garrido, takes the reins after achieving success coaching Villarreal’s youth and reserve teams. And while the Garrido-Villarreal relationship eventually failed, let’s not forget his 2010-11 edition of Villarreal was one of the most watchable editions of the Yellow Submarine we’ve had; evidently Sr. Roig and his son feel Calleja might be the man to work some similar magic at Villarreal.
It’s unfortunate that we won’t see Calleja in charge of the B side for an entire season, because I expect they would have made the promotion playoffs with him; then again, if the first team were relegated, they couldn’t go anywhere anyhow. Again, one benefit of the early change is time for whoever is appointed there to assess the players and coach them for most of the season.