Dave Reay is back with a look at the return of a rojiblanco hero. Enjoy!
The return of Diego Simeone to Atletico has been a welcome breath of fresh air for the Rojiblancos. “El Cholo” aka “The Chief” was once described as a man who plays “like he has a knife between his teeth” and it certainly seems that Atletico have got their bite back. 7 points out of 9 and 3 cleans sheets is a fantastic turnaround for a team who have been struggling.
Is this just the “honeymoon” period though? We all know a club legend can reunite the fans and bring a new, vibrant atmosphere to the club but will these results last?
It was a similar situation with Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool. Straight away he got the fans and players singing on the same hymn sheet and brought some renewed optimism to the club. But on the other hand, we only have to look at when Alan Shearer joined Newcastle for the end of the 2008/09 season. The Toon Army welcomed their hero back with open arms but they were relegated soon after. There was no blame issued to the former no.9 but the fact that Shearer had no previous managerial experience was ignored due to the blind faith that the club had placed in a former club legend. Even “King Kenny” has recently come under scrutiny for his underperforming players despite having a great managerial record. Are Liverpool being too loyal?
Simeone has previous when it comes to management but it’s a mixed bag of success and failure. In only his second job he rejuvenated an aging Juan Sebastian Veron and led Estudiantes to the Argentine league title. His third job at River Plate resulted in more success as he led them to the title as well. Since then though, it has not been as successful as he would’ve liked. Jobs at San Lorenzo and Catania in Serie A were hardly flattering for the CV even though he helped the Italian side stave off relegation. The move from Argentina to Spain could be a chance to not rebuild his reputation as such, but to prove himself on a much bigger stage.
Atletico have plenty of quality in their squad, its just a matter of getting the best out of those players and Simeone is the sort of manager that players respect because of his management style and his previous achievements as a player. He has just lost Jose Antonio Reyes to Sevilla, which is a blow as on his day, Reyes can be world-class, but lacks consistency. Atletico are not exactly flush with money but are not afraid to spend big if and when they need to. After all, they paid €23/£18m for an 18 year old Sergio Aguero back in 2006 when others were afraid. Rafael Benitez at the time said it was too much money for an unproven player. 5 years on and Aguero was sold for €45/£38m. That money was swiftly reinvested on Radamel Falcao who is back to scoring for fun since Simeone took over. Diego too, looks like a new player; almost like the player he was when he was at Werder Bremen before his move to Juventus.
After such a positive start, it’s important that the fans don’t expect so much of a club hero whilst also not looking at things through rose-tinted glasses. Atletico should be aiming for one of the Europa League places as a minimum. A late charge for that 4th Champions League spot is feasible as it is there for the taking but consistency is the key and whether Simeone can provide that is yet to be seen.
The future looks brighter for Atletico and for Simeone.