“There’s a possibility you can make money in football, but there are easier businesses to make money in because it’s geared and weighted against you. You’re in an archaic industry that only allows you to sell your products twice a year; you’re lumped in with 72 other clubs in a football league where the rules that would fit the bottom team in League Two aren’t going to fit the top Championship side; and, worst of all, you’re governed by an antiquated, out-of-touch, self-interested organisation — the FA.” Simon Jordan managed to lose all his money in a 10-year stint in charge at Palace and that is why we’re using our set philosophies outlined in the opening post.
The basic framework uses the following ingredients:
- Quality of Leadership
- Financial Strategy
- Political Strategy
- Manager Profile
- Player Recruitment
- The Football Complex
- The Stadium
- European Success
- Community Ownership
- First Love Campaign
As we pick up where we left off last time out, we went in to the second half of the season full of confidence. Danny Ings had come in to replace the departed Gerard Moreno and with Samu Castillejo leaving for the red side of Madrid there was excitement from the fans to see his replacement, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, pulling on the famous yellow jersey.
As the winter break became a distant memory we started to cement our footballing identity on La Liga and the 4-2-2-2 system was firmly instilled as our base system. This system allowed us to be centrally solid in the defensive transitions, but it’s when we attack that business gets done, having six attacking players supported by the ‘doble cinco’ meant we could often overload the middle of the park creating havoc for the defending side.
8 clean sheets & 45 goals scored in the second half of the season saw us maintain a solid position inside the top 4 and as we got to the penultimate game of the season there was a chance we could usurp Barcelona who have occupied the top spot all season. A win against Getafe meant we went into the final game of the season against Atletico Madrid level on points with Los Cules. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we bottled it, failing to score a goal for only the forth time in 2019. A 0-1 loss meant Villarreal were vice-campeones and would qualify automatically for The Champions League and as if it was written in the stars, it was our former player Samu Castillejo that scored the only goal of the game.
Copa del Rey
A semi-final against one of Spain’s real cup teams, Sevilla, was not to be taken lightly and I decided that due to our early exit from Europe I would go into these games at full strength. The first leg was played at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan in front of a travelling contingent of 117 Villareal fans that got to witness a world class performance from Giorgian De Arrascaeta, who playing off the left-hand side, ran the show. He not only opened the scoring in the 69th minute with a tidy finish he also went on to assist Danny Welbeck twice which saw us run out 3-1 winners away from home setting us up for the second leg back at El Madrigal. The second leg was a cagier affair, I set us up with four central midfielders to stifle the opposition and was more interested in protecting our lead than pushing on to increase it. As expected Sevilla were on the attack, but our midfield block was limiting them to shots from distance but with six of those attempts on target, Sergio Asenjo had to be on fine form to keep us in the game. As the game went on it was becoming apparent that Sevilla were getting desperate and there was always going to be a possibility we could nab a goal on the counter and in the 88th minute we done just that and it was a thing of beauty.
After reading @FMFutbolManager’s set-piece post I saw a lot of similarities in our approach, but what I’d never considered was not having men on the post (consider me old fashioned) so in this counter system I don’t have men on the post, instead leaving my two fastest players forward and my best passer on the edge of the area.
What happened next would make any set piece enthusiast weak at the knees:
With the semi-final done and dusted we moved on to the final where we faced Levante who had had an exceptional run to the final beating Real Madrid and Barcelona in the quarter-final & semi-finals respectively. Coincidently, Levente won their semi-final whilst getting destroyed 5-0 by Barca in a league game between the home and away ties! The final itself was a bit of a boring affair, we held the majority of the possession and a late Danny Ings goal made sure we retained the Copa del Rey for another year.
End of Season Review
It has been a good season at El Madrigal, we’ve created a DNA, a playing style and a business model to keep us pushing for silverware over the next few years.
Quality of Leadership
Our class leading staff setup is looking healthy and plans are in place to expand the coaching team in late 2020.
High player sales mean we announced a profit of £33.5m at 32% of our turnover. Our buy cheap, sell high strategy is integral for the growth in profits.
Our global reputation remains the same, but an unsuccessful conversation with the Chairman means we’ve been unable to affiliate ourselves with another team despite two tours of China. Further talks will take place in 2020.
The sustainable model has already been positive, some high-profile players have left the club but with some shrewd transfer dealings we have managed to maintain performance without having to reinvest heavily in first team replacements allowing us to focus on future prospects.
The Football Complex
There has been no movement in this area yet, but when the timing is right we’ll look to request an improvement in our training facilities.
This is the one area that I have failed in this season, playing a weakened side in early fixtures cost us in the latter games losing out on a head-to-head performance. Next season’s Champions League run will be taken with the seriousness it deserves no matter the opposition.
Whilst the board are happy with our performances on & off the field it’s imperative that the supporters are behind us and whilst we haven’t had much interaction in this area the commercial summary is looking strong which is driven by the supporters.
End of Season Awards
Whilst Xadas was a fan favourite I wanted to give a nod to loan signing Danny Ings, he came in to replace Gerard Moreno and took to Villarreal like a duck to water. Unfortunately we won’t be making his deal permanent as his Premier League wage demands are too high for our structure.
That’s it for now. Next up we’ll be reviewing how the 4-2-2-2 has been working and an early 2019/20 update.