Atlético Madrid - The Musical!

Although not necessarily true, but for the purposes of today’s offerings it is a useful observation to make that the Brits are, by and large, an armpit-scratching, knuckle-dragging, pea-brained breed addicted to The X Factor and anything involving Ant & Dec.

This is in stark contrast to the infinitely more cultured Spanish, who love their cinema and theatre dearly and are regular patrons of both.

Indeed, there are five picture houses within five minutes' walk of La Liga Loca’s bohemian lair.

Musicals are the current favourite fad in the land of ham, with the popular Fame and peculiar Anne Frank - The Musical (no, really) living side-by-side and supported by everyone from fur coat-clad grannies to yapping youngsters.

This got La Liga Loca to thinking that a certain down-on-its-luck football club looking to make some filthy lucre could take advantage of this current trend and make a mint with Atlético Madrid - The Musical!.

Although a pantomime would perhaps be the best vehicle for portraying the incredible carry-on at the Vicente Calderón club in song-and-dance form, the concept is a tad difficult to explain in a country where Christopher Biggins doesn’t exist.

However, it's no stretch to imagine Atleti owners Enrique Cerezo and Miguel Angel Gil as the ugly sisters and Westlife as the club’s back four - complete with gleeful cries of “He’s behind you!" from the audience every time an actor dressed as an opposition forward runs onto the stage.

The latest episode in the club’s wacky West End adventures was the short-lived Rojiblanco resurrection after league wins over Espanyol and Xerez were followed by the inevitable comedy collapse against Porto in the Champions League and the ever-so-entertaining 2-1 defeat to Villarreal last weekend.

Quique Sánchez Flores - perhaps played by a young Danny La Rue - had spent the Saturday before the doomed date with the Yellow Submarines warning the local press and fans that the good times were far from around the corner by noting that “the only thing we’ve achieved is to stop our freefall.”

"There's NO business like SHOW business..."

Midfielder José Jurado was in cheerier mood, however, promising soon after the Porto setback that fans would “see a different Atlético against Villarreal.”

In his own quirky way the former Madrid man was quite correct.

Atlético were different in that they were even worse and lost to a late Joseba Llorente winner followed by the familiar catcalls from fans and protests against the club owners.

Club president Enrique Cerezo responded to Atleti’s latest crisis in the only way he knows how: by gathering the players in a meeting room and pleasuring them with a long and undoubtedly tedious speech.

This took place after Quique had tried the same approach but admitted to reporters that “there’s a very pessimistic atmosphere” at the club - with the footballers feeling that they are beaten even before going out on the pitch.

(Which saves some time, at least).

But Wednesday’s Marca is reporting that the pampered players are already fed up with their coach after just two months.

Being publicly branded hopeless, depressed and in possession of the attention span of Guti on laughing gas has got their collective back up, despite all three observations being quite true.

Full-backs Antonio López and Mariano Pernía are supposedly peeved at being unused ahead of Tomas Ujfalusi.

Kun Agüero is unhappy at being rested in recent key encounters, whilst Diego Forlán is in the middle of a season-long sulk and is playing more like Javier Portillo than Pichichi in the current campaign.

Photographed in Wednesday’s AS leaning seductively on his desk, president Cerezo tried to raise the team's spirits with the usual nonsense about the side’s footballers needing to play with passion and fans needing to get behind them from the first minute.

“Supporters can’t go to the ground thinking that we are going to lose," he insisted, dispensing with the laws of probability.

"If people are going to think so negatively, then if you’ll forgive me, it’s better that they don’t go at all.”

Although sporting director Jesús Pitarch is on a scouting mission in South America, there is little money in the Calderón coffers to add new faces in January, meaning that Quique will probably have to make it to the end of the season with the collection of pantomime characters he has now.

And that can only mean yet more laughter and tears from the off-Broadway show that always delivers the goods, week after week.

Atlético’s Top Five funnies (so far)
Round 1, La Liga -
Losing 3-0 on the opening day to Málaga, still the opposition side’s only victory of the season.
Round 3, La Liga -
Hoping for a moral-boosting performance in the Camp Nou, Atleti were 4-1 down by half-time.
Round 8, La Liga -
One-nil up against Mallorca and deep into second-half injury time. Oops, an equaliser for the Balearic visitors.
Round 10, La Liga -
Looking for a rare bright start in the Calderón against Real Madrid, Atlético were 1-0 down within five minutes.
Matchday 1, Champions League -
Getting the European campaign off to a flying start with a goalless draw at home against the mighty APOEL.

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Stats: La Liga results, fixtures & table
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