A fellow member of the press asked Diego Simeone yesterday whether he'd be going out of his way to make sure Fernando Torres stays at Atlético Madrid for another season, to which Los Rojiblancos' head coach responded with a terse "no". The journalist had contextualised her enquiry with a reference to the way Simeone publicly supported Antoine Griezmann on Saturday to help smooth over the forward's recent run-in with the fans. He was obviously annoyed by the question, did not agree with the comparison drawn between Griezmann and Torres, and gave a response that he shouldn't have. He'd have done better to keep his counsel, just as he would have when he defended Kevin Gameiro by saying that Torres has scored fewer goals and is an idol, yet the Frenchman gets whistled.
Simeone could have easily sidestepped the Torres question
That was uncalled for. Yesterday's episode, meanwhile, was one he could have easily avoided. Griezmann's situation, that of a star player who has had a tiff with the fans, is a fairly special case, and Simeone was right to come out and back him. When it comes to Torres, all he needed to do was say that now isn't the moment to be thinking about that, that the season isn't over, that there's still time to make plans for next term and first let's see how this one turns out, etc, etc, etc. It's somewhat trite, yes; but it's the headache-free way to respond. He didn't want to do that, though. Faced with what he clearly felt was a banana skin deliberately placed in front of him, his irritation got the better of him and he stepped right on it.
Simeone only fuelling talk that he's jealous of Torres
There are those who say Simeone is jealous of the love the fans shower on Torres. Well, he's lending plenty of credence to that. And has no reason to. He's the man who has led this club into the historic, happy period it is currently enjoying. Torres is adored for all he did and all he represented during tough times for Atleti, for his displays of love for the club while he was away, for returning... And for his exemplary attitude despite his bit-part role. He doesn't pull faces; he keeps his mouth shut, stays fit and gives his all when he does get a run-out. It's unfair of Simeone to treat him like this; he does nothing to deserve it. But 'El Cholo' saw yesterday's question as a provocation, and did the worst thing possible: he rose to it.