El Centrocampista

THE SHOW MUST GO ON – Atlético face up to life after Sergio Agüero

By Patrick Fletcher

After two suffocating months of indecision and poor communication, Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero has finally left Atlético Madrid, allowing the colchoneros to breathe easily once more.

Since announcing his his desire to leave the Vicente Calderón on 23 May, the Argentine striker has barely left the headlines, but his transfer to Manchester City today has finally brought to an end one of the longest running sagas of the Spanish summer.

Fans were initially reluctant to believe Kun would really leave, which soon turned into anger as he was linked with a move across the city to rivals Real.

The past couple of weeks however have been characterised by a will to lay the whole culebrón (soap opera) as it has come to be known, to bed.

Their wish has been granted and now they are indeed able to focus their attention elsewhere. But where might this be?

Tonight’s Europa League clash with Norwegian outfit, Stromsgodset, would not be a bad place to start.

Los rojiblancos will go into the tie firm favourites over a side that has not featured in Europe for over a decade, but after bowing out in the group stages during their defence of the title last year, it is hardly surprising that they are approaching this match with a degree of caution.

Essentially this is where Atlético’s footballing season begins for real, and it is time to reflect this by getting to grips with purely footballing matters.

Gregorio Manzano must now focus on the post-Kun era.

This is not to say that Coach Gregorio Manzano has been idly drifting through the past month or so, but the club’s many off-field issues have taken precedence this close-season.

Among them a restructuring of their ‘management and sports models’, the speculation and eventual appointment a new manager, increasing anger and pessimism amongst fans, and of course the transfer window.

With La Liga BBVA no longer a dot on the horizon either, it is important that these issues do not act as a distraction in the precious weeks leading up to the 2011/12 campaign.

I am a firm believer in not living by transfer deadlines, but rather establishing a squad early, making the most of pre-season, and hitting the ground running when it comes to the league.

This is what Atléti must do.

Manzano needs to be setting the concrete in terms of how his side will line up next season.

Initial plans to go with a 4-3-3 formation did not yield healthy pre-season results or performances, and so tonight they will shape up in a 4-4-2.

Couple this with the fact that key players are only recently back from endeavours in the Copa America and in deserved need of rest, and it is clear to see we are still firmly in the stage of experimentation.

Although not ideal for the club’s pre-season preparations, these are factors that can be addressed reasonably quickly.

A much greater danger is the looming possibility of another transfer saga.

With Agüero raking in 45 million Euros, Atletí fans are eager to see some of that money invested in new recruits.

The priority is a striker who can go some way to filling the sucking void left by the Argentine, and Atlético are yet to decide between Osvaldo, Rossi and Falcao.

While the transfer money must be reinvested, another month of speculation and uncertainty is not what is needed in Madrid and could prove detrimental to the way the team gets underway in the 2011/12 campaign.

CEO Gil Marín and President Enrique Cerezo should entrust Manzano with the responsibility to make a decision on any bids based on what he has seen in pre-season and how he is moulding his squad.

Provided he does this decisively and promptly, he will give his team the best chance of beginning the season in the right way.

The matter could be settled within the next few days.

However, if the Kun saga is anything to go by, things could equally drag on until the dying minutes of deadline day.

Either way it would not be absurd to reckon that some cloud of uncertainty will still be hanging above Madrid come the end of August.

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  1. Pingback: Writing for elcentrocampista.com « paddyfletch

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