Atletico's British punctuality stops them missing date with disaster

Clearly Atlético Madrid club president, Enrique Cerezo, had steam whizzing out of his ears when he cast doubts over the immediate future of his coach at the Vicente Calderón by claiming there were no doubts over the immediate future of his coach at the Vicente Calderón after his club’s hopeless away defeat at Levante, but Quique Sánchez Flores should be watching his back very carefully indeed over the next few weeks.

The normal routine with the self-protecting Atlético chief is to fire his manager at the first hint of danger or disquiet and to give warning of the sacking to come by announcing that his minion is as safe as houses. As it turns out they are - but the kind of collapsing constructions that former club overlord and general evil scumbag, Jesús Gil, was fond of building.

The kudos built up by Quique in winning both the Europa League and European Super Cup has almost run out, with Atleti sitting in eighth in la Primera, eight points from the Champions League places and almost out of Europe after a disastrous (yet comedic...) home defeat to Aris Salonika last Wednesday.

But despite the two shiny trophies sitting in Atlético’s trophy cabinet, Quique hasn’t yet fully proven himself as a manager in his 13 months in charge, with his side losing 20 league games in that spell, the same total the Rojiblancos have won. Six of those losses have come this season against Barcelona, Sevilla, Villarreal, Real Madrid, Espanyol and Levante.

Although some of those are against Atleti’s equals and betters in la Primera, what has got the goat of the Vicente Calderón bosses is recent dropped points against Almería and Espanyol and most notably Saturday’s thwacking by Levante.

The club's disciplinary record this season has also been getting the club and Quique in hot water, with two sendings off - the latter of which saw the Rojiblanco ruler being manhandled off the pitch by Espanyol goalkeeper Carlos Kameni after the enraged coach tried to continue a rumble with Perico captain, Luis García.

But some of Atleti's current problems are not really Quique’s fault says LLL’s normally very unreliable Rojiblanco insider. The players - who are not exactly fond of their boss - are grouped in feuding factions. With the generally work-shy and potentially outward-bound Simao as captain, and Kun Agüero and Diego Forlán still not entirely committed to the red-and-white cause, it's not hard to see why things haven't all been going Quique's way.

“Our relationship with the coach hasn’t changed, it’s still the same,” sniffed Forlan on Monday, in not exactly the most sentimental of comments about his coach. And that’s not surprising considering Quique’s reported outburst to his players at half-time against Levante of “are you so stuffed with titles that you can’t run?”

However, all this is tough old titties as Quique’s bosses don’t really care about such off the field stuff and nonsense with the rumour from the Vicente Calderón being that the new manager (who is set to be former player, Diego Simeone) taking over in the new year should Atleti fail in their Copa Del Rey clash against Espanyol.

That was certainly the hint from Cerezo himself on Saturday, with Mr President whining that “in January we could be out of Europe, the cup and tenth in the league.”

But on the other side of the Atleti coin all this kerfuffle could blow over - in the most mixed of metaphors - if Atleti prevail in their next two league games against Deportivo and Málaga and be as jammy as they were last season in the Europa League by squeezing through their group.

After all, this current crisis is a fairly predictable occurrence for the capital city club, as Marca columnist Alberto Polo notes. “Atlético haven’t missed their annual date with another catalogue of disasters. Here we are, once again, with British punctuality.”

Unfortunately for Quique, although the blustery storm Atlético currently find themselves in is by no means an unusual one, it doesn’t mean that the Rojiblanco boss will be able to ride it out.

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