Gregorio Manzano was formally presented as Atlético’s new manager at the Vicente Calderón on Friday.
The Andalusian journeyman, who signed a one-year contract with the club earlier in the week, addressed the Rojiblanco faithful directly, saying:
“Have faith in me, I will not fail you.”
Manzano will be supported by former Atleti players Juan Vizcaíno and Rubén Baraja. Vizcaíno will serve as assistant coach, while Baraja will perform the role of technical assistant. The staff is rounded out by physio Toni Servera and goalkeeper coach Joan Mesquida.
In spite of Atlético’s somewhat disastrous off-season so far, the former Sevilla manager sounded optimistic when speaking at his press conference Friday afternoon.
“I don’t see this as a difficult moment. Instead, I would say it’s a lovely, interesting, positive moment,” the 55-year-old was quoted by AS as saying.
“The starting point is seventh place and our responsibility is to finish higher than that next season. This institution demands that we try, not only in Liga, but in UEFA and Copa play, to be at the level we want to be at.
“Obviously it will not be a rosy path, but we are confident about our chances,” he said.
A reporter asked him, specifically, what the manager would consider a “failure” next season.
“I don’t think of the word ‘failure’,” Manzano responded. “We will surely be a competitive team and we will offer great evenings of football to the fans, so there’s no need for any pessimism.”
The coach disagreed with claims that his first tour at Atleti, in 2003/04, was an unsuccessful one.
“For me, my first stint wasn’t a failure,” he said. “During my first spell the club had gone from finishing in 12th the season before to finishing in seventh, so I don’t understand why it’s considered a failure; it’s actually totally on the contrary.”
A reporter then mentioned to Manzano that, judging from reactions on social networking sites, fans weren’t too pleased about his hiring.
“I’d only like to tell supporters to have faith in me and in my coaching staff,” the manager responded. “We will not defraud them. At the end of the season, we will talk.
“My teams, with time, always turn in results and Atlético will be strong, powerful, and we will try to achieve this with good football. [Supporters] should start thinking that a new idea begins. Atlético is and will be a great because of its history, but the present will also be pleasant.”
Asked about the state of the squad and if he feels signings need to be made, Manzano claimed “the team, at its foundation, is practically complete.
“80 per cent of the team is set,” he said. “Independently, we are subject to the transfers that come about that can alter the squad. Obviously, we will have to incorporate a minimum of players in certain positions, but the nucleus is pretty much set and that’s a positive starting point.”
The coach hinted at the possibility of signing a goalkeeper in the event that youngster David de Gea should leave, as is widely considered to be a foregone conclusion.
“In principle, we have De Gea, Joel and Asenjo, who is working to recover,” he said. “That is our reality as of today, and at this moment there’s no need to start moving pieces unless an exit comes about. If that should happen, the sporting director will work to bring someone in, but right now, there’s no need for that.”
Finally, Manzano was asked about the possibility of Sergio Agüero’s departure.
“Again, you speak hypothetically,” the coach responded. “These assumptions lead to nothing. Kun is an Atlético player. The club has made it clear to me that as of today, there are no formal offers for him.
“In our meetings I have told them that, in my long career, I have had the pleasure of coaching very important players. Negredo and Kanouté in my last job, Güiza, Fernando Torres, and I would like for Agüero to enter that list of great players that I have coached, because it would be wonderful to have him at my disposal and enjoy his talents along with all Atléticos.”