It’s time for the Villarreal players to take full responsibility with their performances.
Unai Emery has taken a lot criticism on behalf of his stars, but this season more than ever, the buck stops with the players themselves.
Emery may not have helped himself at times, and you can certainly argue that tactics have played a part in some of Villarreal’s downfall, particularly late in games when he tends to switch to a conservative style when it feels as though the opportunities have passed his side by,
But whichever way you cut it, more often than not, it has been individual mistakes that have cost Villarreal points this season.
Whether it’s the Geronimo Rulli mistakes against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United or the Pervis Estupinan calamity that handed victory to Barcelona over the weekend, there is a consistent theme of individual mistakes.
Some may point the finger at Emery, maybe it is that he is asking for too much from certain players?
That’s not the case. Players are always asked to play at the best of their ability, to push the boundaries of what they are capable of as professional athletes.
Take the case of Rulli, who is being asked to pass the ball more than any other goalkeeper in La Liga.
It’s a big ask, perhaps, but the message is clear - when the pass isn’t on, get it clear. That’s a message he failed to put into practice against Manchester United and paid the price.
Estupinan’s header against Barcelona was simply an inexplicable mistake. In that situation, you header upwards to give teammates a chance to recover, or you header out towards the touchline.
It’s schoolboy stuff, and the buck stops with individual players.
This team is good enough to play the way Unai Emery wants them to. They did it all season in the Europa League last term, and they have found a way to do it more often than not in this season’s Champions League.
In fact, while some impressive play was present, they often found a way to beat rivals in last year’s Europa League title-winning campaign by simply making less mistakes than their opponents, particularly in the latter rounds.
But La Liga is just as important, and such mistakes can’t happen at this level, not when you are a top six team.
It’s time for the Villarreal players to take responsibility for their performances before this season gets away from them, and it starts in another tough outing this weekend against Sevilla.
Good performances mean nothing if you throw them away or fail to make dominance count.
Villarreal may well put more emphasis on style than many of their La Liga rivals, but points are what will ultimately define this team, and indeed Unai Emery.
Now it’s time to kick on and to cut out the errors that have already cost a potentially top four squad a shot at the very top bracket of La Liga.