Why it's time for Atletico Madrid to part ways with Diego Simeone
With the league title in 2013-14 Diego Simeone won at Atlético Madrid, he will always have a place him as an Atléti legend. The league came after 18 years of wait after all. But things have been on a downward spiral ever since. In fact, Atlético Madrid haven't really challenged for the league since, and this year find themselves in a dismal 6th and could yet drop lower, having played a game more 7th placed Real Sociedad. Atlético Madrid (36) are a massive 13 points behind league leaders Real Madrid (49), meaning just halfway through the season (22 games), they're realistically out of the title race.
In Europe, a similar decline can be noted. From reaching 2 Champions League finals (2013-14, 2015-16), to be eliminated in the round of 16 and group stages in the last 2 seasons. Every season Atlético have seemingly regressed, let alone failed to progress as a side. Since their title win, Atléti have only broken the 80 points barrier once in the following 4 seasons, and look unlikely to do so again this season.
A large part of the reason for Atlético's stagnation seems to be their pragmatic style of play. While Simeone's highly defensive, underdog style of play initially suited the side, it now seems a hindrance. Far too often do Atléti drop points to the lesser sides in La Liga. While rarely beaten with it, the defensive set-up hinders the attacking output of the side. This leads to far too many draws. This is despite the fact Simeone has repeatedly been back in the market with big money attackers. Alvaro Morata cost £50 m, re-signing Diego Costa a further £59m and João Félix set the Spanish side back a whopping £113m. Despite this, none of the Atlético sides consistently produce goals, meaning which, fingers should be pointed at the system.
It now becomes a problem of a financial investment as well as results. With Los Rojiblancos investing such large sums in promising young attackers like João Félix, such a negative system will, no doubt, seriously depreciate their asset's market values. Simply put, if Félix fails to produce sufficient attacking output, his value will drop and Atlético will face the prospect of a serious financial loss when moving him on.
Then, finally, there's the matter of Simeone himself. Having, seemingly, achieved everything he can in Madrid, there seems little point in his staying. Given he remains unlikely to ever replicate the height of his success, every day in Madrid only sees his standing in the game fall.
Perhaps a new project is needed. A poll conducted seemed to show, at least some, Atléti fans agreed
There was a time, at the peak of his reign in Madrid, where he was the first name linked with any top job. In order to avoid missing his opportunity, perhaps it would be better for the Argentine to move on while his stock is still relatively high. After all, his greatest strength is building a side from scratch and getting the most out of less fancied sides.
Published 02 Feb 2020, 09:30 IST