The New Project Is UnderwayBy: Al | July 13th, 2011
Unlike the past three years where a new “project” consisted of signing a few new players and improving upon the season before, this new Atletico project is more of a ground-up operation than anything. We have a brand new manager who is starting from the beginning of the season, we are cashing in on a couple of players and making smart signings, and are finally experimenting with new formations and playing styles.
Quique Sanchez did well in the season that Atletico won the double forming a strong side that was able to compete in knockout tournament settings, but the year after was a disaster in that the squad was eliminated early from both the Copa and the Europa League, and as usual faltered in the Liga. Toward the second half of the season, there was little room for experimentation as Quique kept on throwing out the same lineups with an occasional midfielder being rotated, and that fiasco between Quique and Forlan meant that blondie was left out of the lineups completely. The only bright spots from the end of last season was Diego Costa’s rise to good form, and barely making Europe League qualification.
Now it’s time to do things right. Professional idiot Jesus Garcia Pitarch is no longer the sporting director and will no longer be responsible for unnecessary departures of important players, being replaced by Caminero. New manager Gregorio Manzano is being allowed complete freedom in creating a side the way that he wants instead of inheriting a struggling side. The Atletico cantera (youth team) has an intelligent and determined new manager in Pantic, continuing the great progress of the academy so far and will hopefully bring in new starlets.
Manzano began preseason training around two weeks ago, with the full squad minus the players away for the Copa America (Forlan, Perea, Elias, and the soon-departing Aguero). Eduardo Salvio, who was hot stuff at Benfica last season, has returned and quickly got injured. Sergio Asenjo is also back from his loan at Malaga and is ready to take the place of De Gea, competing with Joel Robles this season. New signings Silvio, Gabi and Miranda who arrived yesterday, are now with the new squad and have begun to mingle with the new teammates. The club is currently negotiating another loan for Tiago and Adrian Lopez is on his way to the club.
The objective for Manzano will be to create a new culture and a playing style that will utilize the player pool as well as possible. There is a good mix of youth (Merida, Koke, Salvio, Mario Suarez), experience (Reyes, Forlan, Juanfran) and flashy Brazilians (Elias, Miranda, Diego Costa). Perhaps not all players benefited from the 4-4-2 that they’ve been using the past few years, and instead might work better in a 4-3-3. This is why Manzano has been experimenting with formations as he’s looking to bring out the best in the players.
The first Europa League qualifier will be at the end of the month, against an unknown opponent (probably some scrub from a small country). Everything looks good so far and it is definitely okay to be a bit excited.