Atletico Madrid fans furious at lack of summer signings

September 3rd, 2009 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Sep 3 (DPA) The long-suffering fans of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid are furious at the club’s lack of summer signings.
This is the unavoidable conclusion to be drawn from an online poll taken by sports daily AS.

The poll shows that no less than 97 per cent of “atleticos” believe that the team “has not been properly strengthened” this summer.

Atletico’s only summer signings have been goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, defenders Juanito and Leandro Cabrera - plus midfielders Cleber Santana and Jose Manuel Jurado, both back from loan at Mallorca.

Indeed, Atletico - who have won nothing since 1996 - have taken more money in sales than they have spent in signings this summer, to the fury of the fans.

And this in a summer when neighbours Real have spent a record-breaking 256 million euros (364.28 million dollars) on new players.

Monday saw the final sad chapter in Atletico’s summer transfer campaign. Defender John Heitinga decided, at the last minute, to leave for Everton. But by then the Spanish transfer window had already closed, meaning that it was too late for the club to buy a replacement.

The Atletico squad of 23 looks decidedly thin and mediocre. It includes nine players the club wanted to get rid of in summer but failed to offload.

The man in the eye of the red-and-white storm is Javier Garcia Pitarch, the club’s technical secretary.

On Wednesday he went public to defend himself, telling Marca that “I have built the best possible squad with the money that has been made available to me”.

Garcia Pitarch added that it was “a shame” that he had not been able to offload unwanted players like Jose Antonio Reyes and Maxi Rodriguez.

Regarding the Heitinga affair, he claimed that Atletico had received “useful money” for the Dutchmen, for whom Everton have paid around 7.5 million euros.

“The economic situation has not permitted us to sign more players and we don’t want players just to fill up the squad.”

Garcia Pitarch finished by pointing out that the squad that he has put together has managed to qualify for the Champions League in two successive seasons.

Meanwhile, embattled club president Enrique Cerezo said Wednesday that “we have a fantastic squad.”

Cerezo admitted, in a sideswipe at Garcia Pitarch, that “it would have been good to have signed another midfielder, but that is not for me to decide.”

He accepted the “concern” of many fans at the lack of signings - and at last Sunday’s 3-0 debut defeat away to Malaga, a defeat which has left Atletico bottom of La Liga.

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