Following Atlético’s disastrous loss to Levante, the club’s third consecutive defeat in just seven days, manager Quique Sánchez Flores sounded the all-too-familiar alarm bells.
“We’re experiencing a difficult moment of crisis, and now all we can do is manage it,” he told the club’s official site. “We have to gather ourselves. We already went through tough times last year and we were able to reverse the situation.
“We’ve gone from heaven to hell in a week, and now we must overcome it.”
The manager did his best to try to comfort the weary Rojiblanco faithful, who have been sapped of any sense of pride after being dealt yet another unexpected blow.
“There’s a significant collapse in the team and we have to get things right,” he said. “I want to tell the fans that we are going to react and we will not go back to our old ways.”
Quique then interestingly made some very pointed comments, as if forestalling a possible sacking.
“Now more than ever, I can’t abandon my players. I love them and I will be with them,” he said. “In spite of the bad moment, one must remain there, supporting the players.”
One player that surely isn’t feeling the coach’s love lately is midfielder Paulo Assuncao. The Brazilian, who returned to the starting XI for the first time since being dropped for the derby, was surprisingly taken off in the 30th minute and replaced by Mario Suárez.
Sánchez Flores explained that Paulo “was playing too intensely and was being watched by the referee.
“He had shown him a card and he was running the risk of getting himself sent off.”
According to Cadena COPE, Quique made his way from the stands into the locker room at half time in an apparent bid to light a fire under his squad. The coach singled out individual players and reproached the team as a whole for the sluggishness they displayed in the first half.
“We’re late to every ball. Godín: no good! Ujfalusi: no good! We’re not running and we could care less,” he said. “Are you drunken with titles and unmotivated?”
When asked about the situation after the clash, the tactician said, “I’m not going to reveal what I talked about in the dressing room. Although I will say that I always speak (to my players) clearly and openly.”
Colombian defender Luis Perea failed to shed any additional light on the issue. “In situations like these, many things are said,” he told reporters. “The manager corrected errors that we were committing. I didn’t hear him say that we are drunken with titles, although I will say that we have to react.”
Simao was even more tight-lipped than his team-mate when asked about Quique’s statements. “What was said in the locker room stays there, I’m not going to reveal a conversation that took place there,” said the Portuguese winger.
Who do you think is at fault for the team’s poor performance: Quique, or the players?