The experienced Basque Coach arrived at El Madrigal in mid-March, taking over from Jose Francisco Molina with the team deep in trouble at the wrong end of the table, yet fortunes have not improved much since. The Yellow Submarine are still just one point above the drop zone and facing a do-or-die final game on Sunday at home to Atletico Madrid to achieve top-flight safety.
In Lotina’s case the usual insertion of a clause in his contract stating the appointment would be made permanent if he avoided relegation was not observed. Consequently, Villarreal are now beginning to wonder if he was the right choice as they study the market to find the perfect man for the job, if and when they do eventually stay up.
While the 54-year-old has performed relatively well at Villarreal, it is understood there are still some inside the club who consider he does not fit the profile of previous bosses, who liked to play touch football with plenty of attacks rather Lotina’s more cautious approach. Supporters who have been brought up on the philosophy of coaches such as Benito Floro, Manuel Pellegrini and Ernesto Valverde have no wish to repeat the struggles of the past few months.
Lotina is not the only one sweating on his future. Captain Marcos Senna and defender Angel Lopez are both out of contract in June and the club are waiting to see what division it will be operating in next season. Unsurprisingly, both would be offered reduced terms if the worst came to the worst and Villarreal suffered demotion this weekend.