x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The future for Al Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores is an annual inquiry

Will he stay or will he go? Once again, manager Quique Sanchez Flores keeps fans and Al Ahli guessing about his future, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Al Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores said he will make a decision about his future with the club after the President's Cup final. Mike Young / The National
Al Ahli coach Quique Sanchez Flores said he will make a decision about his future with the club after the President's Cup final. Mike Young / The National

Since his arrival at Al Ahli 18 months ago, Quique Sanchez Flores has featured regularly in the Spanish media, linked with a number of high-profile clubs and a possible return to the Primera Liga.

The 48-year-old Spaniard, however, seems to have little time for such speculation. He prefers to focus on his work and family, instead.

"I try not to read anything that is being written," Sanchez Flores said ahead of Ahli's visit to Dibba Al Fujairah for Thursday's Pro League game. "During a season, I am very happy working and spending my free time with my family. I don't read anything and that is the best for me."

Sanchez Flores also reiterated he has not made any decision regarding his future at Ahli beyond this season and will do so only after the final game – the President's Cup final against Al Shabab on May 28.

"The club, at this moment, probably know my thoughts and I probably know the thoughts of the club," he said. "We are only thinking about the final at this moment because that is the most important thing and nothing more.

"At this moment, we are in the same position as we were last year, thinking only about achieving our targets. After that, we will try to make a decision that is best for both the club and me."

He said a contract renewal "is not an issue for me, not for the club and neither for our president".

Sanchez Flores faced similar questions about his future towards the end of last season, as well, but the former Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid manager took a month off with his family in Spain before deciding to continue at the Rashid Stadium for another season.

Club officials are confident he will make the same decision again. Back in January, Sanchez Flores told a Spanish newspaper that he was very happy in Dubai and "I am about to renew my contract for one season".

Recent media reports in Spain have also suggested Sanchez Flores might be keen to bring the Spanish forward Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla to Dubai.

According to those reports, Ahli's sports director, Fabio Cannavaro, already has spoken to the former Arsenal star and Reyes might decide to link-up with his former boss from Atletico Madrid.

If those reports are true, it could be the strongest indication yet of Sanchez Flores's desire to continue for another season at Ahli. Qualifying for the Asian Champions League could be a strong incentive, as well.

Sanchez Flores, however, insists his decision will not be based on results.

"I hope the decision we make, the club and me, it will not depend on the second position in the league or winning the President's Cup final because the work done by the coaching staff is very clear," he said.

"We have the respect of the president, we have the respect of the fans and we have the respect of all the people inside the club. I am very happy in this situation. So our decision will not be about the results, but it will be based on feelings - whether we want to continue working together or not.

"We are very happy at the club at this moment because the club is going through a really good phase. So it is important that we enjoy this time till we make our final decision.

"We have a big chance of taking the second position in the Pro League and we want to do it as soon as possible."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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