2012/13: Return to the ‘Elite’
Villarreal return to the First Division one year after their unexpected relegation.
The 2011/12 campaign was one to forget, despite having played in the Champions League, as Villarreal got relegated to the Second Division in a fateful last league game of the season against Atlético de Madrid at El Madrigal stadium (0-1). The Submarine, who had three managers –Juan Carlos Garrido, José Molina and Miguel Ángel Lotina- throughout the course of the inconsistent season finished with 41 points, which meant they were tied on points to stay up. However, in what was a dramatic end to the season, a headed goal by the Colombian Falcao for Atlético de Madrid combined with Rayo Vallecano’s last minute win against Granada sent the Yellows down to the Second Division.
However, Villarreal CF were capable of reinventing and balancing their budget in the middle of an economic crisis and took on the challenge of returning to the top flight. And that is exactly what they did, for the third time in their history. The club worked logically and passionately in the restructuring of the squad, opting for footballers who had done well for the club and Reserve team players, driven by the unconditional support of their huge fan base, who would achieve the objective of getting Villarreal back to where the club belonged.
The Submarine were able to overcome the sad and sudden loss of Manolo Preciado, appointed to lead the team for the 2012/13 season, and although it was tough, they adapted quickly to a very difficult league. The team, led by Julio Velázquez in the first half of the season and by Marcelino in the second, would achieve a record of 77 points in the Second Division –a number that had never been achieved in the silver flight-, equalling the record they had reached as runners-up in the First Division in the 2007/08 season.
The second half of the season was really decisive in achieving direct promotion, with the arrival of Marcelino and signings such as Perbet, Jonathan Pereira, Aquino, Farinós and Dorado –to add to the club’s current key players Juan Carlos, Musacchio, Bruno, Cani, Marcos Senna and Uche-, and they got 45 points, beating all their direct rivals in a nerve-wracking final stretch of the season, apart from champions Elche. Direct promotion was secured in the last game of the season against Almería (in 3rd place) with a goal by Pereira (1-0), that sparked uproar in the El Madrigal stadium that was full of passionate fans and full to the brim.
Victories that stand out from the campaign are the win against Sporting at El Madrigal on the day of the club’s 90th Anniversary (23rd March 2013) with a last minute winner by Uche (2-1); crushing victories against Numancia (6-1) and Mirandés (1-5); and the five consecutive wins at the end of the season against Alcorcón (1-3), Girona (4-1), Xerez (3-2), Barcelona B (0-3) and Almería (1-0).
In addition, the team broke their record of consecutive matches undefeated by winning 14 in a row and also beat their number of goals for in a single campaign in the Second Division, with 69 goals. One of those, scored by Jonathan Pereira against Mirandés at the Anduva stadium, was the 400th for the Submarine in the silver flight.
The support of the fans was key throughout the season, especially in the final stretch, with record breaking numbers of fans travelling to Murcia (43 coaches, 3,000 fans) and the most fans in club history travelling to the Mini Estadi in Barcelona, with an astounding 10,000 supporters in 173 coaches.
Juan Carlos, Mariño, Mario, Joan Oriol, Musacchio, Truyols, Mellberg, Perbet, Uche (top goal scorer with 14 goals), Aquino, Cani, Hernán Pérez, Manu Trigueros, Farinós, Dorado, Javi Venta, Jaume Costa, Marcos Senna, Héctor Canteros, Bruno Soriano, Juanma, Jonathan Pereira, Gerard Moreno, Moi Gómez, Pablo Íñiguez, Pablo González, Jorge Palatsí and Aitor Fernández. In the first half of the season Cavenaghi, Pandiani, Toribio, Lejeune and Gerard Bordas were also part of the squad.