October 17, 2016

Arsène’s 20-year reign is nearly up; could Diego Simeone be on his way?

He's a massive change from Arsène, but Diego's not necessarily a bad one


The weekend before the usual bore International break shows the cruelness of the Premier League, and football in general. With Premier League newcomers Burnley welcoming North London giants Arsenal to Turf Moor in a must-win match for both clubs, with the Clarets wanting to secure top flight football for next season and Arsenal’s ever ending push for the title. This was a special match for one man in particular, Le Boss; Arsène Wenger, who celebrated his 20th season in charge of Arsenal in their 1-0 victory over the Clarets. Although, what Wenger possesses wasn’t witnessed. The beautiful game he has created at Arsenal, his passing, possession, high tempo’d team had to find an ugly way to win the game which Wenger made so beautiful, which hasn’t been seen many times over the years.

As the Frenchman sat down in the dugout, tugging anxiously at a rubber band, growing frustrated watching his side be kept out by a very firm determined old fashioned Burnley defence, the game to mark his 20th year in charge nearly fell to one for the Arsenal boss to forget. But, Arsenal showed fight and character, albeit to celebrate for the boss for his time in charge of the club and went on to win the game with the last kick… (hand) of the game scoring in stoppage time. After the late goal saw the North Londoners take all three points the game had the whole of the Premier League questioning if the goal was scored in a legal manor and caused somewhat controversy amongst football fans. As Wenger celebrated the three points, the usual cheeky smile appeared as he clapped his team off and shook Sean Dyche’s hand, probably wondering just how his team won the game.

So his 20th anniversary in charge saw Arsene take three points from Turf Moore, with the famous “1-0 to the Arsenal” being sung in high spirits from the away faithful after a turn of superlative form, but just how much longer will Wenger be at the helm of the Arsenal squad? With his contract running out next summer and no clear indication whether he intends to extend his stay, could we see Argentinian boss Diego Simeone enter the fray sooner rather than later?

You would probably sit there and say Diego Simeone will not leave Atlético, I mean, he has re-made the club and now has them amongst the best clubs in the world, one of the most feared; but not everything is rosy for the Argentinian as he reduced his contract with the club by two years until 2018 which certainly took everyone by surprise… or did it?

When the news broke that the Atlético boss had requested to have his contract cut short, football fans around Europe couldn’t actually believe it; he was building something special with the likes of Antonio Griezmann leading the attack and Saúl Ñíguez coming through and blossoming, already having an established spine in the squad his team was near on complete, but there is a feeling that is coming across as if he cannot take Atlético forward, as if he cannot progress them as he has done in previous seasons, with the news certainly feeling like the beginning of a long goodbye.

With the club moving into Nuevo Estadio Atlético de Madrida next season which will hold around 70,000 fans, and of course having a transfer embargo stopping the Spanish club singing any new players until January 2018, it looks like Simeone will not be enjoying the club’s next chapter. Many things could have sparked this commotion though: walking away from another heartbreaking Champions League defeat last May to rivals Real Madrid he openly said he would need to think long and hard about his long term future with the club. The Argentinian, who has been in charge since 2011, has admitted that he might have ran his course at the Vicente Calderón and will consider moving on.

“It’s a moment for me to think about things. When you give everything and it’s not enough it’s hard.

“These have been three wonderful years but I am not happy tonight. I do not know which hurts more, this final or the last one. I just feel for the people who have come to watch us.”

When asked if he was going to leave Atléti, he admitted: “I am planning to think about it.”

The latest heartbreak on the grandest stage of all seemed to have made an immediate impact on the Atlético boss, struggling to come to terms with another unfortunate loss he seems to have done all he can with the club he brought so far. A man who probably spent the summer thinking “what if?” has certainly done enough for his Atlético side to warrant respect as one of the greatest managers in Europe. A double winner himself has now managed a team that has won five trophies and reached two Champions League finals since he took over in 2011.

His team’s style of play may not be to everyone’s taste but the determined Atlético Madrid coach has found success by doing things very much his own way, despite what others have thought. He changed the face of football at the Los Colchoneros; I feel it’s a myth when people say Atlético play boring or defensive football, using the term ‘park the bus’ when talking about the style of football Simeone demands his team to play. For me, Simeone has got them playing some of the most tactical football in Europe, albeit if it means counter attacking or silky pass and movement, the coach has got it all in his very talented squad.

His team isn’t just the usual players or individuals, they are warriors, and they really do have the “do or die” attitude for their respected manager who shows nothing but pure pain and passion for his team on the sideline, whether that’s jumping up and down or stressing his tactics from the sideline the manager himself is certainly the 12th man along with the Atlético faithful. Togetherness, teamwork and individual brilliance which players like Saúl and Griezmann certainly possesses adds up to make Atlético one of the most dangerous teams on the continent, all because of one man, a man who has transformed the club from  passengers into leaders.

When a manager loses his players, it can often turn ugly. For example, José Mourinho had lost the dressing room at Chelsea after winning the Barclays Premier League title and things went from bad to worse for the Portuguese boss. But there is never a worry of that occurring with Simeone although they both carry the same mannerisms around football. Instead, players train so hard for the Atlético boss they are physically sick, this just shows the aggressions Simeone is putting his players through, but something that has certainly worked with the manager gaining full respect and trust from his gladiators.

The 46-year-old joined Atlético to fight Spain’s big financial powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona, and proved it is possible to beat both, and win La Liga. This achievement is such that Simeone is considered by many to be one of the top coaches in world football.

17th May 2014 is a day that shall live in the memories of many football fans across waters. The day Atlético was really taken seriously. A Godin equalizer on the 49 minute was enough for Los Rojiblancos to lift the La Liga title for the first time since 1996, but what makes it even sweeter is the manor they did it; they fought back and stopped football giants, Barcelona winning the league at their own ground. As the ref put his mouth to the whistle for the last time, the celebrations started wildly from the players, Simeone and coaching staff, the entire Nou Camp stood and applauded the Atletico side that finally ended the Barcelona – Real Madrid dominance, a classy gesture to show what the beautiful game is all about.


In terms of style, this is something that does worry the Arsenal fans. Simeone doesn’t carry the same style Wenger does, of course. But the Argentinian is very much as respected and respectful as the former. Simeone holds a nickname ‘Cholo’ which comes from his street swagger for a kid from the hood, and this just goes to show what kind of man he is, his nature and what the baggage would arrive with him. His hood attitude saw him lead Atlético to the unthinkable, and has stopped the Madrid dominance, with the turn being very 50:50 in that side of Spain.

He would make a stamp in England and would personally change the face of the current Arsenal squad. For years, fans and pundits have suggested Arsenal have too many passengers in their side, too many lightweight players. This wouldn’t be the case under Simeone. The man has created a team of athletes, a team of troops; he wouldn’t allow passengers and could bring the best out of some players who need to show more aggression.

Simeone, for me, would be the perfect man for Arsenal. With the amount of talent already at the club he would work miraculously with them and make them an even deadlier side in Europe, making them tough to play against but also meaner, something they have been run over on in recent title run in’s. He would inherit a squad with the likes of Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine Adelaide breaking through, whilst having world class players in Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, and not to forget the talented Héctor Bellerín, Ramsey, Xhaka, Koscielny etc, all players which could adapt to the Simeone way.

Arsenal play beautiful football, the myth of Simeone ruining that is nothing but disrespect. He would utilize defensiveness in the squad which they have lacked and the tactical genius would work wonders and balance the squad instrumentally. Simeone could most certainly bring back the days of glory to North London, but it could also end horribly for the Argentinian as a majority of players who are present at the club are used to Wenger’s tactics; players are used to keeping possession and playing one dimension, which could change under Simeone, but if it means bringing silverware to the Emirates Stadium then why is anyone fearing change? The players will either adapt or be shipped on, as a new era is on the horizon with Wenger leaving the club and it’s a perfect position to go and take on the greats in Europe.

A return to Serie A, of course, feels inevitable with his former club Inter being a club which holds half of the Argentine’s heart. But the thought of challenging the likes of José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in the Premier League could be too much of a sweeter challenge to turn down, an opportunity to once again show the world why he is one of the best.

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