Quique Sanchez Flores: The sharp-dressed man still to find a club that properly fits
Al Ahli fans wondering what to expect from their club’s new manager Quique Sánchez Flores might prefer not to take counsel from Diego Forlán, who played under the Spaniard for the last two seasons at Atlético Madrid.
“Everyone knows how he is,” said Forlán after leaving Atletico for Internazionale last summer. “I have had many coaches and never had a problem with any of them. This gentleman has been with many teams and had problems with them all.”
Forlán was perhaps not the most balanced of observers, after publicly falling-out with his coach before both left Atlético Madrid last summer.
The Uruguayan striker claimed Sánchez Flores was jealous of his status as star striker. The fiery coach responded in kind by not selecting Forlán even as his side struggled for goals.
Such emotional behaviour seems to come naturally to Sánchez Flores - a snappy dresser and also dead ringer for House actor Hugh Laurie. His father Isidro Sánchez played for Betis and Real Madrid in the 1960s, and his mother was singer and actress Carmen Flores.
Most importantly for many in Spain however, Quique’s aunt was Lola Flores, possibly the country’s most loved flamenco dancer and actress in her youth and later a colourful TV personality.
A defender in his playing days, Sánchez Flores spent ten years at Valencia, before moving to Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza. He won 15 caps for Spain, and was in the squad for the 1990 World Cup, but did not play.
Sánchez Flores’ managerial career has been much more dramatic. He began at Getafe in 2004, where he built a reputation as one of Europe's brighest up and coming coaches as he established the unfashionable Madrid side in Spanish top-flight.
That attracted Valencia, who impressively challenged Madrid and Barcelona for the title in his first season in charge. Sánchez Flores then publicly clashed with important figures in the Mestalla boardroom and was fired after a series of poor results in October 2007.
He claimed at the time to “feel disappointed, but on the other hand I am relieved.” For 2008-09 Sánchez Flores coached Benfica, steering them to third in the Portuguese table.
He took over at Atléti in October 2009 and had the most successful year of his career, leading the previously underachieving Colchoneros to the 2010 Europa League and then the European Super Cup after a 2-0 win over Rafa Benitez's Inter Milan.
Last season however, the wheels came off, with dressing room discord, unhappy fans, touchline histrionics, baffling team selections and then the business with Forlán, whose goals had previously been key to the team’s success.
Anyone hoping to see some Barcelona-style flowing football from Sánchez Flores' sides will likely be disappointed.
He often fielded four attacking players at Atléti, with Forlán up front alongside Kun Aguero and José Antonio Reyes and Simao Sambrosa on the wings, but the team’s central midfield lacked guile and creativity, with Tiago, Mario Suárez and Paulo Assunçao better at destroying than dictating the play.
The suspicion was he liked the idea of playing exciting attacking football, but perhaps lacked either the nous or the conviction to really go for it.
To be fair to Sánchez Flores however, he still steered Atlético back into Europe despites the problems at Madrid’s second club running deep.
So the evidence suggests Al Ahli should perform above expectations in Sánchez Flores’ first year in charge, but should stand by for plenty of fireworks down the line.