The good of Simeone - and a dash of the bad and ugly

There's no shortage of talk about Diego Simeone at the moment, not just in Madrid but across Spain and the continent. Talk of his leadership and his football. Of his Atlético Madrid side and a brand of play that isn't overly pretty but ain't half effective. Of fearsome opponents so mean at the back that the minute they score, it's a mammoth task prising the game from their clutches. Of a style that's hardly free-flowing and doesn't set out to win prizes for artistic merit, but is implemented by players who have blind faith in their leader, Simeone, a coach who gets them to run through walls like no other. Playing for Atleti is hard graft. Arda Turan couldn't hack it and left. Now his fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. Filipe Luis left, that didn't go so well either, he came back and now he's happy.

"Real Madrid wouldn't be allowed to play like that," Madrid-supporting friends tell me, and to an extent they're right. But only to an extent. José Mourinho went down a similar route, at least against Barça, and plenty of Madridistas, not least the president, were fine with it. His problem was that the squad was only able to deal with such overwhelming pressure for two seasons. By the third, his leadership lost its way and with it - as early as October - went the title. Simeone has been there for four years, plus the second half of the campaign in which he arrived, and his players still respond to him. Several have been there since the day he walked through the door, and remain right behind him. And those who've come in knew what they were signing up for, and seem to put in the hard slog only too willingly.

There's inspirational leadership behind his approach, but also no little footballing method. He plans every single match meticulously, and more often than not they tend to turn out his way. He doesn't have the resources of a Madrid or Barça, but he's muscled in on them. With each and every Atleti fan rallying behind the team all the way - so much so that a European night at the Calderón is a some experience. And he's made his partido a partido ('one game at a time') mantra a term of widespread use in Spain. It's not my preferred kind of football and it goes without saying we can do without that carry-on of balls being thrown on to the pitch, but I can only admire the firm values underpinning his work. And I'm in no doubt about one thing: Atleti wouldn't have crashed Real and Barça's party with anybody else.