El Submarino Amarillo currently lie in the Play-Off spots in Liga Adelante almost a year after an 88th minute for Atletico Madrid beat relegated them. Villarreal where competing in the Champions League in the same season so relegation was unthinkable however they sat in 16th place going into the last day and ultimately defeat against Atletico and a victory for Rayo Vallecano sent The Yellow Submarine down.
A flood of exits followed with top goalscorer Marco Ruben leaving for Ukrainian outfit Dynamo Kiev, Borja Valero to Fiorentina and Brazilian international striker Nilmar leaving to join Qatari side Al-Rayyan. Villareall began the summer of 2012 without a manager after Miguel Ángel Lotina left the club following relegation. As a result on June 6th former Sporting Gijon manager Manuel Preciado Rebolledo was appointed as the club’s new manager.
However, tragically the day after this appointment Preciado died of a heart attack. This meant the Valencian outfit had to look for another man to lead the club forward and that man was Julio Velázquez. Adding to the list of departures were Diego López (Sevilla and now Real Madrid), Iván Marcano (Rubin Kazan), Jonathan De Guzmán (loaned to Swansea), Jefferson Montero (Monarcas Morelia), Gonzalo Rodríguez (Fiorentina), Carlos Marchena (Deportivo), Cristian Zapata (loaned to AC Milan) and Javier Camuñas (Deportivo). This left Villarreal thin on the ground and as a result the new manager brought in former player Javi Venta from Levante, Olof Mellberg from Olympiakos and Walter Pandiani from Espanyol.
The season began with a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid Castilla with summer signing Fernando Cavenaghi scoring both goals. By October they had lost just once playing 8, 5 won and 2 drawn and the one defeat against Ponferradina there second defeat of the season came on the 7th October against Sporting Gijon in a 2-0 defeat. A draw against Huesca and then defeat against Recreativo followed the Gijon defeat in a difficult few games for the team. They then went on a five game unbeaten run with a 0-3 win against Racing Santander the most notable win.
A good start to the season was ruined with a dismal mid season performance, from the 24th of November till the 25 of January they won just once, this included a 5-0 defeat to Castilla, a 1-3 home defeat the Barcelona B and a 2-0 defeat to Girona. The 1-1 draw against Almeria was enough to see Velázquez sacked by Villareall and the next day Marcelino was handed the reins at El Madrigal. The January transfer window saw players like Giuseppe Rossi, Fernando Cavenaghi and Walter Pandiani leave the club leaving them short of options up front and as a result Jeremy Perbet was brought in from Belgian side RAEC Mons and Jonathan Pereira came in from Real Betis.
The new manager started in the worst possible way, a 5-0 defeat to Castilla. The team responded by winning the next match 3-0 and then a fantastic run from that win against Sabadell up until the 27th of April in a 14 match unbeaten run which ended last weekend in defeat to table topping Elche. In that run of results they beat Mirandés 1-5 and in the following game they won 6-1 against Numancia.
With 5 games to go they face already relegated Xerez, but also face three sides above them in the table and a trip to face Barcelona B. Well, they are in the position to play in the play offs and are only five points off automatic promotion, the game against 2nd placed Girona is a must win to pip them to automatic promotion. The games against fellow play off occupiers Alcorcon and Almeria are tricky fixtures that both have to be won, the final game of the season at home to Almeria could be a pivotal game and a winnable game too. They are currently two points above dropping out of the play offs and are, as previously stated, five points behind second placed Girona. Despite this they have a game in hand over their rivals which could become very important in their bid for promotion.
Villarreal can certainly bounce straight back into La Liga thanks, in part to a brilliant second half of the season and the miracles by manager Marcelino, if the are to do so they will have to do it the hard way though playing four teams in the top half, three of which are above them too. However, it’s not impossible, long gone are the days of Champions League football, Manuel Pellegrini, Diego Forlan and Santi Cazorla but promotion back to La Liga will be a massive and possible step in the right direction for the Valencian side.