Manzano: “Atletico Madrid would be ahead of Real if we could finish”

Atletico Madrid Coach Gregorio Manzano has claimed his team would be ahead of rivals Real Madrid in the table if they had been able to convert their chances in recent games. The Coach remains confident that the team’s forwards will start scoring again after firing a second successive blank in La Liga at the weekend.

“If we had taken our chances [this season] we would be ahead of Real Madrid. The difference is in the opposition goalkeeper. There are teams that have not played very good football but in being able to finish [attacking moves] find themselves above [in the table].

“Had Atletico been more successful in finishing then we would have taken five or six more points. Instead we are talking about other things and we have no choice but to endure the rain.”

Away to newly-promoted Granada on Saturday, Manzano’s men failed to score for the fifth time this season in all competitions, including in three of the last four outings. However, talking to AS, the Coach remains optimistic that the team will rediscover its scoring touch that towards the end of September yielded consecutive 4-0 wins.

“There is no rush, we are just beginning. Adrian had three chances in front of goal against Granada and if he had scored one, we are then talking about 0-1.

“In three games, against Sporting, Racing and Celtic, we scored 10 goals and the players were praised. Now the goal doesn’t come, but we are the same people and the work is also the same.”

Manzano remains optimistic of the signs his team have shown him and believes a little more patience is needed for the team currently sitting eighth in La Liga.

“We’re trying to do new things with the team but playing the way we do we run many risks. Since we started the season, from 13 games we have lost just twice against Valencia and Barcelona.

“And against Valencia I felt we could have drawn. And many will say it was easy to win against the Norwegian team [Stromsgodset] but we had to do so with little preparation and with the pressure of having to win.

“Now I have a much better team than then. Atletico have had a great team for at least three years. The staff are excellent. But you have to see the line you want to follow and if you are willing to do so, then have a little patience. Creating a balanced and competitive team inside two months cannot be done.”

Jose Antonio Reyes has come under scrutiny for his performances in recent weeks, where from seven appearances he has yet to score.

“There are players that are more anarchic, but what do you do? Reyes may be suffering a little bit more than the rest. Maybe we must ask for a bit more, for example to create a goal.

“One question though: why is it against us that the opposition’s best player is their goalkeeper?”

Manzano then reflected on the club’s activity in the transfer market this summer and instead of focusing on the headline moves to replace David De Gea and Sergio Aguero, the Coach spoke about the influence of integrating players from the club’s youth team.

“Sometimes decisions have been made thinking about the youth system. [Thomas] Ujfalusi left and [Luis] Perea was thought of as a winger with the idea that [Jorge] Pulido can come through and play. So far they have not done so, but we have the option.

“As with Koke. Elias left because we have Koke, who is a great player. He will get minutes, Koke will be a great player.”

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