Coach of the year 2016: Diego 'Cholo' Simeone
The IFFHS (The International Federation of Football History & Statistics) famed for past polemic decisions, yesterday announced that Cholo Simeone was the coach of the year for 2016. No sooner had the decision been made, social media was full of messages protesting about the verdict. We're already on thin ice when we analyse the Cristiano or Messi question but at least they play with the same ball whereas for a coach the situation is somewhat distinct. Each coach has his own squad, works within different budget constraints and is set different objectives. Simeone won the award despite not claiming any titles for his side ahead of the likes of Luis Enrique (6th), who won the Spanish Super Cup. LaLiga and Spanish Copa del Rey. Zidane despite his Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup haul was second on the podium.
It's clear that Simeone has to work withing different parameters and that's not to detract from the quality of his squad. I'm not sure how deep the IFFHS dig when compiling their awards. However, I'd suggest that this has not been Simeone's best year and I'd point to the way he handled the Champions League final when he failed to use all available substitutes in extra time and it appeared that the players were contaminated by his impotence as the match evolved. His post match reaction too was that of a man carrying a major burden. Fortunately for the Atleti faithful, the final months of the year have showed signs that he is recovering his desire to carry the project forward despite results on the pitch not necessarily going his way.
I'd suggest looking to the past few years to see the real merit of Simeone's influence. He's transformed a club who had even lost their place on the podium as the third force in Spain to a major force in the European game. What the Argentine has achieved is incredible but the timing of this award is somewhat strange, Fernando Santos would have been another candidate taking his Portugal side to the final and claiming the European Championship trophy. A prudent but effective style of play and (Cristiano apart) a squad with no big name players.
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