“Winning trophies is not necessarily difficult, the tricky thing is to change the course of history of a football club”. There were the words used by Madrid Mayor Martínez-Almeida addressing Diego Simeone during the official trophy presentation to 2020/21 league winners Atlético Madrid. The Mayor is a self confessed life-long Atleti fan and as a result his words carried greater authenticity with Almeida being able to appreciate the role the Argentine has had in changing the culture of the club. Simeone has been instrumental in the transition, not just in sporting terms but a period that has seen the club more to a new stadium and established Atlético as a major player in European football. In the past the club flirted with this status, but today they are well and truly a European or even global giant.
The essence of Atleti
El Cholo has been manager of Atleti for a decade, a major feat in these times of impatience within the game. There have been ups and downs along the way, but at the heart remains a coach with a clear idea and well defined game-plan. The club is being solidly administered by Miguel Ángel Gil, with Enrique Cerezo offering the public face of the institution, but it's Diego Simeone who is able to transmit the essence of Atlético Madrid. A club that for so long has lived in the shadow of their more successful neighbours, they always sought their place in the sun and today, the Argentine manager is enjoying the sweetest success period in, arguably the club's long history.
We've seen a contrast in leadership styles as employed by Simeone and those used by the continually questioned Koeman and Zidane. Both Barça and Madrid head coaches have another season outstanding on their respective contracts and question marks abound as to whether they will be in the same position for the 2021-22 campaign. Koeman signed off yesterday with a: “hope to see you all in July”. It appears that Zidane is looking for an exit from Madrid and his recent comments too have alluded to this. This security that Simeone offers has been key to his success with Atlético and this has been exactly the ingredient lacking at Madrid and Camp Nou. This confidence and security have seen Atleti make a leap forward under the Argentine coach in just ten years.