Jonny McConnell looks at Diego Simeone’s options beyond Atlético Madrid…
It has been said over and over again, but even in management, Diego Simeone has retained the ferocity and sheer determination that made him such a formidable opponent in his playing days.
Often unpredictable on the pitch, he had enviable talent and he has impressively taken his playing qualities into his role as a manager. Since replacing Gregorio Manzano in December 2011, Simeone has showed his coaching ability to the world, helping the club escape from a period of mediocrity, moulding them into La Liga winners in the space of two and a half seasons. What next though? Can Simeone and the club improve on this, or have they finally reached their ceiling as a club.
Atlético have seemingly replaced departing players well, with the signings of Antoine Griezmann, Mario Mandzukic, Alessio Cerci and Raul Giminez being used to replace Diego Costa as well as add depth to the squad. Jan Oblak and Miguel Angel Moya have been brought in to try and lessen the impact of losing Thibaut Courtois, while Filipe Luis has been adequately replaced by Guilherme Siquiera and Cristian Ansaldi.
It will take time for these players to gel, but Simeone has done well to continue bringing in high class players and has done an incredible job with limited resources.
It is difficult to think about the former Atlético captain leaving the club he loves, but he is motivated by challenge and he has surpassed everything that was expected of him. In the dire state Los Indios were in when the fiery coach took over, you would have been laughed at if you had suggested Atléti would have won five trophies and finished as Champions League runners-up within three years – not that anyone could have even dreamed of that happening.
He has built a team around passion and has demanded an extremely high work-ethic from every player. Despite commanding respect from players and managers all over the world, it is unlikely that Cholo would find a group of players humble enough to take on all of his advice. He would struggle to find what he currently has in Madrid with any other club. Egos seemingly don’t exist among these players, but that is a difficult quality to find in a squad.
He has transformed Atlético into a force to be reckoned with, just as they were in his playing days, but can Diego Simeone keep doing this for much longer? Surely he will be tempted by the challenge of a new club sooner or later. The thirst to prove himself is easy to see. There is only so much a manager can do at one club and Simeone will have realised this too. It is only a matter of time before the opportunity to transform another club reaches him, and surely then, the man who Colchoneros love so much will leave for a fresh start.
Guillem Balague has recently mentioned that Simeone wants to manage in the English Premier League and Serie A before he reaches his peak as a coach. One can only assume that in Serie A, he would like the challenge of his former club Inter, who are in a state comparable to Atlético’s upon Cholo’s arrival. Bringing Inter back to the top would help the Argentine cement his place among coaching legends and in the near future this could perhaps be his destination. Atlético fans will hope this is not the case and that his loyalty to the Madrid club will outweigh his desire to coach elsewhere. However, it is difficult to see him continuing to challenge the powerhouses of Real Madrid and Barcelona for much longer.