Chaos in the cantera

Carlos Sánchez Aguiar takes over reserve team following woeful run of form

Oscar Mená has left struggling Atleti B (clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Oscar Mená has left struggling Atleti B (clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Despite making a bright start to the season, Atlético Madrid B have been in serious free fall in recent weeks, leading to the resignation of manager Oscar Mená last week after just seven months in charge.

However, life after the Argentine has only piled on the misery for our second string, who were embarrassingly thrashed 6-1 last time out at Bilbao Athletic.

Sporting director Carlos Aguilera moved quickly to appoint a replacement in Carlos Sánchez Aguiar, who watched from the stands on Sunday as his new team were dismantled at Lezama.

A former first team player, Mená has always been well regarded in the cantera, and had a real hand in the development of the likes of Óliver Torres and Javier Manquillo, both starring as he won the league with Juvenil A in 2011/12.

After progressing to the C-team and continuing his good work, the chance came to manage the reserves last March with the team again hovering dangerously close to the relegation places, and he managed to turn their fortunes around and keep them in the division.

The Rojiblancos invested a lot in the cantera over the summer and his team was almost completely overhauled, but this season they have failed to find any sort of form or cohesion, with confidence on a real low ebb and rifts within the squad causing disruption.

Captain Daniel Aquino had established himself as the team’s star man and as a protégé of Mená, but was left out for the recent trip to Fuenlabrada along with Samu Saíz, who’s performances last season kept the team in the division.

Reasons were never confirmed, but the manager strangely called the duo out publicly, declaring “If they were so good, they wouldn’t be playing in Segunda B.”

Samu had caused controversy earlier in the season when he failed to report on time for a Sunday lunchtime match against Sestao, citing traffic from the Madrid bike festival as the reason why.

There is potential future in the team, including striker Hector and Wednesday’s first team debutant Lucas Hernández, but neither have prospered so far this season or been able to hold down a regular place.

The likes of Iván Alejo, Sekou Keita, Carlos Ramos, Pierre Kunde, Andres Roblés, Nacho Monsalve and Borja Martínez are also highly rated, but aren’t looking like making the step up to the first team any time soon given the current situation.

After an impressive start that saw them in the play-off places by the start of October, the wheels have really come off with the current winless run stands at a pitiful seven matches.

In stark contrast to their seniors, lack of belief and unity seems to be the main problem. More often than not, should they concede first you can more or less call the game off. Throwing away leads has hardly been unfamiliar either.

New manager Aguiar is somebody who knows the foundations of the club well having spent six years here in the late 90’s, but has been out of work since leaving Toledo in 2008.

He did however manage Atleti B back when they were in the Segunda División, famously taking them a 2nd place finish in 1999, which would have been enough for promotion to La Liga had the first team not already been there.

When Arrigo Sacchi departed the club that year, he even took charge of the first team for a short spell, until Radomir Antić returned for his second, less successful, stint at the helm.

Mená does remain at the cantera in a background role, but Aguiar will be hoping he can he can undo the team’s woes that see them lying in 19th, starting this weekend at home to Amorebieta.

Is Aguiar the right man to turn our youngster’s fortunes around? Are there any Atleti B players you would like to know more about or see in the first team?