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How long until Atlético Madrid's manager takes the exit door?

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How long until Atlético Madrid's manager takes the exit door?
Chief executive Gil Marín's plans are falling apart, but it looks like coach Quique will be the one to go

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/feb/07/atletico-madrid-gil-marin-quique


Not long ago this Atlético Madrid side were winning the Europa League. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Miguel-Angel Gil Marín does so love it when a plan comes together. Which might just explain the permanently bewildered look on the face of Atlético Madrid's chief executive, majority shareholder and son of former Godfather Jesús Gil y Gil. Gil Marín, after all, is the man for whom plans don't so much come together as fall apart. This is the genius who celebrated the club's centenary by commissioning rough-voiced folk singer Joaquín Sabina to write a special hymn – only to be forced to ditch it because of an argument over copyright and to watch his side capitulate to an oddly appropriate defeat against Osasuna.

That day, Atlético chose a Stones track instead: You Can't Always Get What You Want. And, although he keeps avoiding what he really deserves, Gil Marín can't. He celebrated Kids' Day, complete with face-paints, free tickets and bouncy castles, by securing a 4-2 home defeat against a side that had not won away all season, thus securing a whole new generation of supporters – for Real Madrid. And he set up last weekend's game against Athletic Bilbao as a celebration of 100 years of wearing red and white striped shirts, a chance to reconcile fans and clubs, his coach calling it a game for happiness, "an amnesty" – only for his players to prove unworthy of the shirt, capitulating again as supporters departed early chanting: "We're sick of the Gil family."

But this weekend, a plan did at last come together, with a little help from FC Barcelona, who now have the best record in Spanish football history. On Saturday night, Pep Guardiola's side defeated Atlético Madrid 3-0 with a hat-trick from Leo Messi, taking them to 16 successive league wins, a new La Liga record which allowed them to overtake Alfredo Di Stéfano's Real Madrid team of 1960-61 and maintain a seven-point lead at the top. It also meant Atlético Madrid have now gone four games without a goal. Gil Marín knew Atlético Madrid would lose at Camp Nou. In a weird sort of way, he also wanted them too. Which is why what might have happened last week might instead happen this week.

As for what really needs to happen at Atlético – the departure of Gil Marín and Cerezo – don't hold your breath.

Last Sunday, as fans trudged away from the Calderón in the pouring rain, they sang "¡Gil, cabrón fuera del Calderón!" ("Gil, you arsehole, get out the Calderón!"). And nothing makes a president or an owner's finger twitch like the fact that fans' fingers might, at last, be pointing his way. And so it was that Gil Marín decided that it was probably time to get rid of the coach Quique Sánchez Flores. Only it wasn't a very good time. What was the point, he reasoned, of getting a new coach in and burning him with a defeat at Camp Nou? Better to let Quique take that hit too and leave him to play for his job the following weekend – this Saturday – against his former club Valencia. Better to postpone it a week; better to give him one last chance. Safe in the knowledge that if he doesn't take it, you have the perfect excuse; and if he does, you can pretend you never planned anything of the sort.

Now, you might be thinking that's ridiculous. After all, Quique Sanchez Flores was the man who Atlético chose to bring in just over a year ago. The man who finally brought the club some unity at last, brought through youth-teamers David De Gea and Alvaro Domínguez, and performed what he described as a "mental cleansing" at the club. He was the man who took inspiration from the basketball coach Phil Jackson's book Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior – a book that talks of a "Zen Christian attitude of self-awareness", dismissing anger as a weed and hate as the tree. The man, above all, who won the Europa League and the European Super Cup: the first coach to win anything in 14 years and the first to clinch a European trophy in nearly half a century. The man who took his side to a Copa del Rey final.

But then Quique Sanchez Flores was, despite protestations to the contrary, Atlético's ninth choice as coach and his record was not what it appears to be. Atlético lost 23 times last season, Quique won only a third of his games and his team reached the final of the Copa del Rey having faced just one first division side – Racing Santander. They played in the Europa League by virtue of being desperately bad in the Champions League but not quite bad enough to actually finish bottom of their group and got through three rounds on away goals. They won just two in eight – and one of those was against Fulham. Their European record last year stood at: won two, drawn eight, lost four. That's relegation form.

And yet they won the Europa League. Then their defeat of Inter in the European Super Cup raised expectations. Unrealistically. Atlético were top for two weeks. But they should have known they had no chance of staying there when Marca's editor Eduardo Inda described them as the Third Way – a Third Way only marginally less meaningless and baseless than Tony Blair's. Atlético are 31 points off the top. "If we don't get into the Champions League it would be a failure," claimed Cerezo. This morning Atlético are eighth – 14 points off a Champions League place. They are out of Europe, defeated by giants Aris Salonica, and out of the Copa del Rey.

They are also only nine points off the relegation zone. "Maybe it's time to look up, not down," as one Atlético reporter put it last night. Quique Sanchez Flores's first 50 games in charge are the worst in the club's history. Of those who have even made it to 50 games that is. Since then, he has lost twice more. He has lost more times than he has won as Atlético coach.

Atlético's defenders continue to play on roller skates; Luis Perea's legs seem to have been attached by someone who read the instructions incorrectly; Felipe Luis and Diego Godín, the summer signings and good players, have caught the bug. Domínguez has disappeared. Even De Gea looks wobbly – and at 19 he's entitled to. There is no one to run the game, no one to create, and Diego Forlán looks utterly bored and uninterested, all too willing to talk of a future elsewhere, a victim of his own honesty and an alarming drop in form – last weekend he was whistled when he was taken off; this weekend he did not even start. Raúl García is a useful scapegoat – not least because he really isn't very good. Quique has not once used the same starting XI in two successive league games since he took over. The style changes, the personnel changes. Every week.

As for that Zen-Christian stuff, the squad is divided. Quique, says one player, "has little or no support". The fans, quite rightly, have had enough. There is no institutional support and the knives are out in the press. There is no faith or confidence. "I am scared of us going into a downward spiral," said Enrique Cerezo this morning, "I'm scared of us giving up." No wonder Quique talked about enduring moments when he felt "genuinely fragile" and "feared for my health". And that's the thing: it is not Quique's fault. At least not only his fault. Just as it was not the fault of the 17 other coaches Miguel-Angel Gil Marín has employed since 1996, none of whom won a thing.

The club falls apart around him. Cerezo and Gil Marín, the two majority shareholders, president and chief executive respectively, barely talk. They deliberately take contradictory decisions just to wind each other up. When Gil Marín recently noted that he had turned down a huge offer for Sergio Agüero, all he did was create tension around the club. When Cerezo returned from Miami, where he was celebrating Enrique Cerezo Day, all he could do is roll his eyes and mutter: "This wouldn't have happened if I was here," like nothing stupid ever happens on his watch.

Simão Sabrosa left, Jurado left and two players who no one is convinced by – Elías and Juanfran – replaced them. Forlán would have gone too but Spurs could not agree personal terms with him. When Atlético made a big noise about Agüero's new deal, few missed the fact that his buyout clause has gone down not up, with Real Madrid sniffing round. And rather than declaring eternal love and claiming that "I will be here as long as Atlético want me here", Aguero said: "I'll leave when I want to." Sadly, few doubt that he will want to soon enough.

Atlético Madrid are more than €100m in debt and soon they won't even have the thing that makes them special: identity. They are moving to a new stadium on the opposite side of town. Another season is in danger of drifting away at best or becoming a battle for survival at worse. And saddest of all, the greatest success the club enjoyed in more than a decade seems to have been completely forgotten already. But don't worry because Gil María has a cunning plan: sack the coach. Again. At the end of December, Miguel-Angel Gil Marín was named "football director of the year" by the Dubai-based Globe Soccer group. They might as well have handed Pol Pot the Nobel Peace Prize.

Talking points:

Results: Athletic 3-0 Sporting, Getafe 4-1 Deportivo, Osasuna 1-1 Mallorca, Barcelona 3-0 Atlético, Real Madrid 4-1 Real Sociedad, Zaragoza 1-1 Racing, Almería 3-2 Espanyol, Villarreal 0-1 Levante, Sevilla 0-0 Malaga, Valencia 2-0 Hércules.

• Hang on, does that say Levante beat Villarreal? ****** ****, it does you know.

• Sometimes Barcelona and Leo Messi are a victim of their own boring brilliance. Let's face it, we really should be talking about them this week but what else is there to say? They have now broken the league record with a 16th successive victory and eased their way past Atlético in the opening 15 minutes on Saturday night. Messi scored a hat-trick, taking him to 24 for the season and – get this – 83 in his last 82 games for Barcelona. But more than the goal, the thing everyone is really getting excited about is the moment he dashed back 50 yards, took the ball off Agüero, dinked a pass round an Atlético player and set Barcelona back on the attack. "He is," said Quique Sánchez Flores, making the comparison that means even more to most Spaniards than Pelé or Maradona, "a 21st century Di Stéfano".

• Na Na Na Na Na, My Dad Is Bigger Than Your Dad Department: that Quique comment was one that Marca were not prepared to let go. All upset at someone not bowing down to kiss the feet of their lord and saviour (well, one of their three lords and saviours), they splashed their cover with "21st century Di Stéfano" this morning. Not Messi, but Cristiano Ronaldo – who last night got two more to take his total to 24 and a barely believable 50 in 51 games since joining Madrid. Mourinho's side battered Real Sociedad last night with Mesut Ozil particularly sparkling. Kaká played well too. And there was an impressive performance and a goal for Emmanuel Adebayor. That noise you can hear is probably a nail (not yet the final one, though) being hammered into Karim Benzema's coffin.

• "A toast to mediocrity." That was how AS's report of Sevilla-Málaga put it. And they could not have put it better. To think, Sevilla used to be worth watching. Once.

• With every passing game, Athletic Bilbao look stronger and Iker Muniain looks better – he produced a wonderful rub for the second this weekend, scored by Gaizka Toquero. They have now won four on the trot. They're six points off but a Champions League place looks a genuine possibility.

• Tino Costa doesn't do normal goals. He scored a beauty last night as Valencia beat Hercules 2-0. So poor were Hércules that they decided they might as well send on persona non grata Royston Drenthe. As he was waiting he was given a pep talk by the assistant coach, which presumably consisted simply of a promise: "It'll be in your account on Monday. Honest." Only let's face it, it won't.
 
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They all want him to go, except the players .. TBH, don't know what happened to them this season ..
 
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They all want him to go, except the players .. TBH, don't know what happened to them this season ..
This summer could be terrible for them, they run the risk of losing Aguero Forlan, and Flores all at once.
 
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Long OP lol

Read it all the guardian seams to have intresting reads as a few have been posted on here may have to go on the site myself :)
 
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Kün will certainly leave, but not for Real Madrid, he's agent said he doesn't want to leave to Real . If this situation continues, Quique will be sacked ..
 
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Atletico doesnt look good in the near future. It all depends on what they will do this summer in terms of players and coach. I dont see Gil Marin nor Cerezo leaving. There are many top coaches on the market right now (Hiddink, Lippi, Bielsa, etc). They will be very lucky if they can achieve a Europa League spot this year. Personally I dont think they will, Athletic looks strong, and Espanyol has kinda of a miracle season. Sevilla is also bad, same situation as Atletico.
 
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I just don't get what's wrong with this team the past two seasons...they have a lot of great players, they were great in the season before last, but they can't win anything at the moment. I haven't watched them play much, what are their biggest problems? A leaky defense? The few games I've watched of theirs this season the midfield didn't do a good job of maintaining possession. Thought they played well against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey though.

And where is Aguero going to? I doubt Chelsea will want to have 4 strikers next season. He wouldn't go to Real Madrid...and who else can afford him?
 

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I just don't get what's wrong with this team the past two seasons...they have a lot of great players, they were great in the season before last, but they can't win anything at the moment. I haven't watched them play much, what are their biggest problems? A leaky defense? The few games I've watched of theirs this season the midfield didn't do a good job of maintaining possession. Thought they played well against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey though.

And where is Aguero going to? I doubt Chelsea will want to have 4 strikers next season. He wouldn't go to Real Madrid...and who else can afford him?
Liverpool could afford him, but would he come here? Inter Milan possibly?
 
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Liverpool could afford him, but would he come here? Inter Milan possibly?
Yeah I was thinking Inter Milan probably, but they just got Pazzini and he's doing well. The ironic thing though is that there's a very good chance neither club will be playing Champions League football next season...if that happens, would he want to go to either of those clubs? Or stay in Atletico for another year? Anyway, it's only about Inter, there's no way Liverpool would go for him. They have to play a 4-5-1 because of Gerrard. And why spend a ton of money on another striker to switch to a 4-4-2 when you already have an expensive striker you moved to the wing? I just don't think it would make sense at all to shell out like that for Aguero.
 
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I just don't get what's wrong with this team the past two seasons...they have a lot of great players, they were great in the season before last, but they can't win anything at the moment. I haven't watched them play much, what are their biggest problems? A leaky defense? The few games I've watched of theirs this season the midfield didn't do a good job of maintaining possession. Thought they played well against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey though.
Well, they play like Benfica used to play when Quique was there... Meaning, they play like ****, and live off the individualities... I remember how I hated the way Benfica was winning whle playing zero football, relying on fouls and corners to score one or two goals...

I might say I value him highly as a person, but very poorly as a manager... He lacks aggression and tactical knowledge, though I'll admit he does know how to setup free kicks.

All in all, I'd rather lose and play beutiful (or at least actually playing football), than win and and have a tottally unenjoyable experience.
 
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Well, they play like Benfica used to play when Quique was there... Meaning, they play like ****, and live off the individualities... I remember how I hated the way Benfica was winning whle playing zero football, relying on fouls and corners to score one or two goals...

I might say I value him highly as a person, but very poorly as a manager... He lacks aggression and tactical knowledge, though I'll admit he does know how to setup free kicks.

All in all, I'd rather lose and play beutiful (or at least actually playing football), than win and and have a tottally unenjoyable experience.
I have the same philosophy as you but sadly a lot of people think it's crazy to even worry about whether or not you're putting a quality product on the field. Look at Chelsea over the past few years: they've won a lot but it's always been really boring football. When people look back at them in history they'll be viewed as an efficient team that got the job done through defense, counter-attacking, and set pieces, but no one would actually want to sit down and watch them. They two teams that will be remembered from this decade are Real Madrid during the galactico era (Zidane, Figo, Guti, Makelele, Ronaldo) and Barcelona of the past few years. Not for their results but because when they were on their day they were truly mesmerizing to watch...not from size or athleticism or fitness, but for their amazing skill.

As for Flores, why do the players love him so much if the results are so bad? I've heard from several people he has the support of the players.
 
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I have the same philosophy as you but sadly a lot of people think it's crazy to even worry about whether or not you're putting a quality product on the field. Look at Chelsea over the past few years: they've won a lot but it's always been really boring football. When people look back at them in history they'll be viewed as an efficient team that got the job done through defense, counter-attacking, and set pieces, but no one would actually want to sit down and watch them. They two teams that will be remembered from this decade are Real Madrid during the galactico era (Zidane, Figo, Guti, Makelele, Ronaldo) and Barcelona of the past few years. Not for their results but because when they were on their day they were truly mesmerizing to watch...not from size or athleticism or fitness, but for their amazing skill.

As for Flores, why do the players love him so much if the results are so bad? I've heard from several people he has the support of the players.
Yep, what's the point of watching football if you're not enjoying it? I reckon one always watches the team they support, but It doesn't mean one should be happy with poor performances or football. That's why I admire barcelona, their play is simply outstanding, and a real pleasure to watch.

Well, I value Quique highly as a person, because he actualy seems to be a great bloke, really nice and well mannered, humble, with a logical speech, and real affection for his players. It is the kind of person that actually gets on the good side of almost everyone, and it's no surprise the players actually like him. On those basis, I believe they like him because of his personality, not for his worth as a manager.
 

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I find the Barcelona team now quite boring to watch. Too one sided and because the other team can't get the ball there's no action. Will be rooting for Arsenal on Weds, but won't mind too much if they don't.

On topic, Quique is a good manager, but as said above he does tend to rely very heavily on the bright individual talents rather than team ethic. With Benfica he relied a lot on Aimar, Di Maria and Cardozo.

Now he's relying a lot on Reyes, Forlan and Aguero. No surprise they are struggling tbh.
 
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Yep, what's the point of watching football if you're not enjoying it? I reckon one always watches the team they support, but It doesn't mean one should be happy with poor performances or football. That's why I admire barcelona, their play is simply outstanding, and a real pleasure to watch.

Well, I value Quique highly as a person, because he actualy seems to be a great bloke, really nice and well mannered, humble, with a logical speech, and real affection for his players. It is the kind of person that actually gets on the good side of almost everyone, and it's no surprise the players actually like him. On those basis, I believe they like him because of his personality, not for his worth as a manager.
My thoughts exactly...I'm an American who grew up watching American sports but was converted to football because it is the only sport I have seen that is asthetically pleasing. There is no such thing as beauty or creativity in any American sports, you just have moments of amazing athleticism (football, basketball) or precision (in baseball). That's fine and they're great sports, but there is something about the beauty of football that puts it on a different level. So when I see teams that go about playing by trying to win with athleticism and size (defend, counter, score on a set piece with your tallest player), it's just disappointing. If I want to watch the best athletes in the world grind out victories, I can turn on the NFL or NBA. But most of the time I want to watch the best sportsmen in the world play a beautiful game, and so I'll watch a football game (probably La Liga or the Argentine league).

Ultimately sports are a form of entertainment. The wins mean a lot but if it's done in a boring way, what's the point? There's a reason people watch football as opposed to baseball, it's much more enjoyable to watch. So when teams just play for results, it defeats the purpose of the sport. These players make millions, and it's because of the fans that shell out ridiculous amounts of money on tickets, TV packages, and merchandise. The players and teams then, IMO, have an obligation to the fans to put a good product on the field and to play a game that's enjoyable to watch. That's why I have a lot of respect for teams like Barca, Arsenal, and Real Madrid. They don't play for just results, and they make sacrifices to put something on the field that the fans and neutrals will enjoy. There's no reason for a neutral to watch a Chelsea match.

---------- Post added at 02:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:07 PM ----------

I find the Barcelona team now quite boring to watch. Too one sided and because the other team can't get the ball there's no action. Will be rooting for Arsenal on Weds, but won't mind too much if they don't.

On topic, Quique is a good manager, but as said above he does tend to rely very heavily on the bright individual talents rather than team ethic. With Benfica he relied a lot on Aimar, Di Maria and Cardozo.

Now he's relying a lot on Tevez, Forlan and Aguero. No surprise they are struggling tbh.
In other words, they're too good so the game is one-sided, making it boring to watch...that doesn't mean the team is boring to watch, it means they're so good that the contests are never close, meaning the games are boring/uninteresting, not the team. Even when Barca is winning 5-0 though I'm entertained, they're truly one of the best teams to watch ever. Of course I haven't been watching the sport that long but the only other team I can think of that played the game as attractively as they do would be Madrid during the first galactico era.
 
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I find the Barcelona team now quite boring to watch. Too one sided and because the other team can't get the ball there's no action. Will be rooting for Arsenal on Weds, but won't mind too much if they don't.

On topic, Quique is a good manager, but as said above he does tend to rely very heavily on the bright individual talents rather than team ethic. With Benfica he relied a lot on Aimar, Di Maria and Cardozo.

Now he's relying a lot on Tevez, Forlan and Aguero. No surprise they are struggling tbh.
Tevez?
 

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My thoughts exactly...I'm an American who grew up watching American sports but was converted to football because it is the only sport I have seen that is asthetically pleasing. There is no such thing as beauty or creativity in any American sports, you just have moments of amazing athleticism (football, basketball) or precision (in baseball). That's fine and they're great sports, but there is something about the beauty of football that puts it on a different level. So when I see teams that go about playing by trying to win with athleticism and size (defend, counter, score on a set piece with your tallest player), it's just disappointing. If I want to watch the best athletes in the world grind out victories, I can turn on the NFL or NBA. But most of the time I want to watch the best sportsmen in the world play a beautiful game, and so I'll watch a football game (probably La Liga or the Argentine league).

Ultimately sports are a form of entertainment. The wins mean a lot but if it's done in a boring way, what's the point? There's a reason people watch football as opposed to baseball, it's much more enjoyable to watch. So when teams just play for results, it defeats the purpose of the sport. These players make millions, and it's because of the fans that shell out ridiculous amounts of money on tickets, TV packages, and merchandise. The players and teams then, IMO, have an obligation to the fans to put a good product on the field and to play a game that's enjoyable to watch. That's why I have a lot of respect for teams like Barca, Arsenal, and Real Madrid. They don't play for just results, and they make sacrifices to put something on the field that the fans and neutrals will enjoy. There's no reason for a neutral to watch a Chelsea match.

---------- Post added at 02:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:07 PM ----------



In other words, they're too good so the game is one-sided, making it boring to watch...that doesn't mean the team is boring to watch, it means they're so good that the contests are never close, meaning the games are boring/uninteresting, not the team. Even when Barca is winning 5-0 though I'm entertained, they're truly one of the best teams to watch ever. Of course I haven't been watching the sport that long but the only other team I can think of that played the game as attractively as they do would be Madrid during the first galactico era.
Exactly. Makes it boring. Like watching a boxing match with only one peron punching. It's not exciting. I much prefer watching Real Madrid. But of course, it depends on the type of football you like watching. I like attacking football, not controlled. It bores me when they just pass, pass, pass and they lose it then win it back within 10 seconds and do it all over again. It's just not fun.

Jordan, I meant Reyes XD
 
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I'm assuming he meant Reyes.

---------- Post added at 02:20 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:15 PM ----------

Exactly. Makes it boring. Like watching a boxing match with only one peron punching. It's not exciting. I much prefer watching Real Madrid. But of course, it depends on the type of football you like watching. I like attacking football, not controlled. It bores me when they just pass, pass, pass and they lose it then win it back within 10 seconds and do it all over again. It's just not fun.

Jordan, I meant Reyes XD
But look at how many goals Barca scores...you can't accuse them of not playing attacking football. If they tried to be more direct they would allow more goals and dominate the other team less, and it would be much less attractive IMO...no offense but I think you're biased, especially since you said you like watching Madrid play more. This Real Madrid team does not really play attractive football, they do moreso than most other teams out there but nothing out of this world, nothing like the old era, when they had Zidane, Figo, Guti, Makelele, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos...that team was amazing to watch. This galactico team is not very exciting to watch, you're pretty much just watching Ronaldo carry the team on his back. They really don't have good team play.
 
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I find the Barcelona team now quite boring to watch. Too one sided and because the other team can't get the ball there's no action. Will be rooting for Arsenal on Weds, but won't mind too much if they don't.

On topic, Quique is a good manager, but as said above he does tend to rely very heavily on the bright individual talents rather than team ethic. With Benfica he relied a lot on Aimar, Di Maria and Cardozo.
tbh.
I kind of understand what you're saying, on a good day, barcelona will have utter and complete control of a game. The way they go about it, however, just amazes me and I just don't get tired of watching them play.

Quique didn't actually rely much on Di Maria, he favoured Reyes, mostly for his crossing from mid-field free-kicks. I remember how every single foul from the midfield onward was taken by reyes, which in turn would cross to Cardozo, resulting, in all fairness, in a lot of goals. Quique would be an amazing coach in my opinion, but nothing more than that.

Ultimately sports are a form of entertainment. (...) There's no reason for a neutral to watch a Chelsea match."
Completely agree with those two points you made, especially the first.
 
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Exactly. Makes it boring. Like watching a boxing match with only one peron punching. It's not exciting. I much prefer watching Real Madrid. But of course, it depends on the type of football you like watching. I like attacking football, not controlled. It bores me when they just pass, pass, pass and they lose it then win it back within 10 seconds and do it all over again. It's just not fun.

Jordan, I meant Reyes XD

Thats because you are not really a Barcelona fan in the same way as the catalan people are. They just love it. Experiencing probably one of the best teams to set foot on soil. Ask any Barcelona fan, they just love how they dominate and win game after game. The 5-0 against RM, was an ****** so to say. There are very few teams in the world that could hope a victory against them in normal situations. Against Gijon, yes, they tied. But out of ten games, they would win 8 and very comfortably. Thats it. Hey, Its not their problem that the other teams keep their man behind ball all the time, playing total defence the 90 min. If the opposition plays a bit more open or agressive, attacking etc, they would loose by a bigger margin.
 
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