Atlético announced yesterday that manager Quique Sanchez Flores will remain with the club until the end of the current campaign.
But reports in the Spanish media have suggested that Quique has his mind set on leaving after this season no matter where the team finishes in the Liga classification table.
The Rojiblanco boss has reportedly grown increasingly disenchanted with Atlético’s front office, particularly because of the club’s decisions to let go of Jose Manuel Jurado and Simao Sabrosa.
If Quique’s departure is a foregone conclusion, what effect will this have on the squad’s motivation here on out?
Speaking to Spanish paper AS yesterday, the coach said he had addressed his men in order to remind them of the team’s objectives.
“I have told the players that with character, pride and solidarity, everything is possible,” he said. “But they can’t let their arms down. They all have to run and they all have to fight the same way.”
The squad’s zombie-like performances of the past month seem to indicate that the players have already let their arms down.
Are the players quitting on Quique?
For most of Quique’s time at Atleti, a rift between him and striker Diego Forlán has been a recurring issue, though both parties have played down talks of bad blood between them.
More recently, rumours have circulated about hard feelings between the tactician and young defender Alvaro Dominguez.
The centre-back’s representatives have publicly decried Quique’s harsh treatment of the Atleti youth product, as the 21-year-old has been banished to the bench for several games at a time following a defensive mistake while other players who commit similar blunders go unpunished.
Diego Godín and Filipe Luís have also been given the bench treatment for extended spells despite being signed over the summer in a bid to shore up our back line.
Quique’s line-up indecision has also been the subject of controversy all season long among the fans. The starting squad becomes increasingly more unpredictable with each passing week, which could be detrimental to the team’s morale and faith in their manager.
Certain players could be under a heightened level of pressure when they are on the field, conscious that a single lapse can cost them their place in the fold.
Once-established starters like Godin and Dominguez likely lose confidence when they are removed from the starting XI, and when they return, their insecurity might adversely affect their decision-making on the pitch, further threatening their chances of re-claiming a spot in the starting line-up.
It doesn’t make sense when players like Antonio Lopez and Juan Valera, who are clearly not the future of the club, play in place of talents like Godin and Dominguez.
If you’re Ujfalusi for example, are you going to be as motivated to play alongside Valera and Lopez as you would be if you were accompanied by Dominguez and/or Godin?
If you’re Aguero, Forlan or Reyes, are you going to be inspired by the completely different set of faces in the back from the ones you saw a week before?
I wouldn’t be.
Do you think the players are starting to quit on Quique?