It’s not just on the Villarreal USA website that a lot of questions have been asked about Villarreal’s front office and whether changes are needed. Some of the same questions have evidently been asked within that front office.
Today’s EPM has an article by José Luis Lizarraga entitled “Reorganize the Villarreal Model.” For a team that notoriously keeps itself to itself, this is quite a bombshell admission, and Sr. Lizarraga, who has very close contacts at the club, presumably was encouraged to publish it. Perhaps it’s something of a “trial balloon”, to see how people react to it?
At any rate, the basic story is this. Sr. Roig is of course the man who has primarily provided the funds, but also the vision (quite apart from the first team, the building of the cantera, building Villarreal’s stature in the province through the “Endavant” initiative, etc., etc.). When Sr. Roig bought the club, Sr. José Manuel Llaneza was already there, and the two of them worked closely together for many years. However, Sr. Llaneza, while still very visible, is essentially an emeritus figure these days, with little in the way of day to day responsibilities.
Third has been the CEO, Sr. Roig’s son, Fernando Roig Negueroles. Here Sr. Lizarraga makes the point that while he is intelligent and passionate for his club, ‘Villarreal needs a voice’—Sr. Roig Negueroles is a quiet person who is not comfortable in public. He handles the economic aspects of the club but prefers to remain in the background.
And the fourth key player is Federico Alcacer, who handles the non-sporting aspects of Villarreal.
According to Sr. Lizarraga, historically this group has operated by consensus or joint decision making—but (in his opinion, he says) the results of the recent past indicate this model no longer works. Not only have we made mistakes in the players we signed, we also don’t seem to have ‘clear ideas as to the profile needed’ (i.e.what positions to emphasize to build a coherent team, rather than simply react to departures).
The club needs a sporting director—an experienced, respected person who assumes responsibility for signings and is left to do his work. At present, we don’t have that person; Pablo Ortells is primarily concerned with scouting young players and signing them.
We also need, Sr. Lizarraga says, to find another Sr. Llaneza—someone who can be the day to day face of the club, be the voice of the front office, essentially be the guy who takes pressure off everyone else so they can do their jobs effectively. He concludes by noting that as for the rest, the club has fine staff —and having met some of them, I certainly agree!
There’s still a lot that’s not said—exactly how the ‘consensus directed from the top’ has operated, and what changed that led to its not working so well, is not made clear. I’m also a bit surprised that Sr. Lizarraga didn’t refer specifically to Sr. Cordon’s departure, as he was certainly the type of sporting director we now need and have not replaced.
But the fact that essentially the club is going public about the need for change is very interesting—as were Sr. Lizarraga’s comments earlier about Sr. Roig ‘re-engaging’ and taking back the reins of power after Calleja’s rehiring.
Clearly, a lot is going on behind the scenes!