Villarreal: Season 1

I’m really quiet at work, so I’ve managed to get through my first full season already. Summer time is a quiet spell in my job so that means FM time!

Transfers

Money is in short supply at Villarreal, in fact, I started with a £1.6m budget. I had to tie some players down though. Mario wanted a new contract and I couldn’t really risk losing him. Adjustments were made and I now had no money.

That didn’t last for long as Chelsea were sniffing around Manu Trigueros. Ideally, I’d have kept him as I think he’s a better fit for the team than some others I had. He wanted to go, so I couldn’t stand in his way. Chelsea offered £13m, which I rejected as I thought he was worth more than that. With some negotiations, I talked them up to £20m. I didn’t quite get double his £11m value, but I did pretty well.

As teams were showing interest in Mario, I decided that I’d look for a long term successor for him. I knew of Borja San Emeterio from a previous save, he’s only 18 at the start of the game, but his mental attributes are rather good. I got the all clear from my scouts and met his £3.1m release clause. We’re in the Europa League, so I’ll be sure to give him game time.

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With San Emeterio joining, that meant putting Antonio Rukavina up for sale as I had no need for him. He was 31, so selling him made sense. Sassuolo snapped him up for £400k, which was what I was looking for.

I had plenty of central defensive options this season, but with at least one of them likely to depart next summer, I wanted to plan ahead again and bring in someone I can develop. Vukasin Jovanovic is 19 years old and has great potential in game. I signed him for £600k from Red Star Belgrade and sent him back there for the season to get games in a familiar environment. He came highly recommended by my scouting department, which was all the assurance I needed.

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The only other position I thought worthy of upgrading at this point was one of my wide midfielder positions. I decided I wanted someone a bit more attack minded, like a second striker from a wide position. The first player to come to mind was obviously Gabigol, but I’ve signed him countless times. I implemented a search. At 19, Carlos fitted the bill perfect. Good work rate, decision making, anticipation, movement as well as being technically and physically sound. A fee of £4.4m was agreed. Thinking long term, this is a player that will have an impact and likely move on at an inflated fee. Trying to get that part of my transfer policy underway as soon as possible.

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I later assessed my central midfield options and I didn’t have someone who could have an impact from the middle of the pitch as a backup. Looking at my reserves, I had nobody I thought was ready for first team football. Ryan Gauld was available on loan for the season. It seemed like a no brainer. Low wages, good technically, great vision and decision making. When it didn’t make sense to buy or promote, a loan was a sensible option.

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In the end of season La Liga review, Carlos and San Emeterio were voted as the best and second best signing of the season, respectively.

Results

I think it’s fair to say that we were the undisputed masters of the draw in La Liga. Fifteen bloody draws. Who draws that many games? Nobody! We had the most draws in the league. Two teams had fourteen draws, one of those teams got relegated and the other finished 13th. On the plus side, we only lost six games with the other 17 ending in victory.

We managed to qualify for the Champions League on the last day of the season. If I were Atletico Madrid manager, I’d be mighty annoyed. They won more games than us, scored more goals and probably played more entertaining football. We were snooze masters. We managed to lose less games than them though and that’s what helped us in the end.

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I’m still not sure what went wrong for us to get all those draws. A draw is better than a defeat, but the games were really boring. We did manage some decent victories though, a 2-0 against Atletico Madrid, 3-0 over Athletic Bilbao and we managed to win 4-1 against Eibar. The only time we scored four goals in a game. Among our many draws was a respectable 0-0 at home to Real Madrid, although they did put five goals past us in the reverse fixture.

Getting into the Champions League is quite exciting and hopefully we manage to get into the group stage. The riches would be greatly appreciated as the board have had to pump money into the club twice this season already.

In the Copa del Rey we were drawn in the fourth round against Cadiz, going through 3-0 over the two games. Our path to the final would have been a tough one, but Atletico put us out of our misery in the fifth round with two 1-0 victories.

The Europa League was a mixed bag for us. Drawn in a group alongside West Ham, Lokomotiv Moscow and PAOK, we won two, drew two and lost two. It was a tight group and we missed out by a point.

In both cups, I played a rotated side. I really hoped it would give me some tough choices for the first team, but I was wrong. Nobody particularly impressed, San Emeterio and Marin aside.

Where Did It Go Wrong?

With the tactic? With the players? We started the season playing a patient, low tempo style. It was playing nice at points, but as you can see above, we really struggled to break teams down. Defensively we were quite well organised, which is some consolation I guess.

As the season wore on and I was being bored to tears, I decided to switch to a faster, more direct style. It confused teams for a few games and we actually scored goals. It didn’t last as we again couldn’t break teams down. Teams sat back for some reason and I really can’t explain why.

Players really never performed. Suarez was a huge disappointment for me, only creating five goals all season and scoromg once. I had hoped he’d be a central threat from deep, but that never really worked out. In hindsight, it was probably the wrong role/position for him.

He wasn’t the only culprit, we really lacked an edge. Goals/assists were in short supply. Carlos finished top of the pile when it came to assists(12) and second for goals(8) with Soldado(17) finishing top. No other player managed double figures for each category.

The only place I can say that it mostly went right for us was with our defence and with our signings.

Will possibly do a little post with some tactical thinking for next season. It’s clear that things can’t carry on with this 4141 as it’s not what I want to play. I also think a possible change of system might be more interesting.

Thanks again for checking in!

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7 comments

  1. A very similar first season as I had with Schalke and my own version of the 4-1-4-1. Defensively sound but like you, goals were hard to come by. I think my top scorer had 10 goals. You appear to have had the nous I didn’t though and plan to change things in pre-season. I’ve had a nightmare 2nd season and am a few bad results away from the sack. Still, coming up to the winter break I will make changes and try to rectify the situation. I’ll be interested to see what changes you make to your side.

  2. Nice work James, I had very similar outcomes in my Villarreal save, especially with the amount of draws. Looking forward to how this save progresses and what signings you make. Bakambu scored a fair few for me and caused so much danger with his electric pace, maybe try him leading the line instead of Soldado every now and then to really confuse the opposition.

    1. Bakambu just didn’t work out. Even with his super pace, he couldn’t do anything with it. Soldado was the opposite, he could do things, but couldn’t run onto any balls. He scored though, so it saved him. Big summer of transfers ahead!

      1. Been scouting someone all season, looks very promising. Never signed him before either. His stats and attributes look pretty good 🙂

  3. Interesting season. Looks like you played an Atletico style of football (in Simeone’s 1st and 2nd year), but it looks like you got bored and turned it up a notch. I do feel Villarreal has really good offensive power (I’ve played with Villarreal for so many FM years…) but I tend to get more results when I play a fast-paced passing style of football with passes into empty space.

    Anyway, I hope you can bring some exciting transfers over and do better next year–and get places in the Champions League!

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