What Diego Simeone has done at Atletico Madrid is truly commendable. Taking over a side that hadn’t won the top flight of Spanish football since the 1995/96, in a league dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona, and turning the Rojiblancos into a footballing elite.
Under Simeone, Atleti have won the La Liga title, the Europa League, the Supercopa and the UEFA Super Cup. They’ve also lost a Champions League Final to Spanish rivals Real Madrid and, apart from the Argentine’s debut season when they finished 5th, they’ve always been in the top three.
The man who is no doubt still not on David Beckham’s Christmas card list, has an approach to management that is representative of his style of play; dogged, efficient and ruthless – feel free to replace those three words with ‘nasty little prick’.
It’s quite fitting that in the above video, Diego Costa can be seen as one of the main antagonists when the Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid benches come together, following Cristiano Ronaldo’s sending off.
The current Chelsea striker is a nasty piece of work himself, and embodies the ‘qualities’ that Simeone himself had as a player, and ones he tries to instil in his players – that siege mentality of us against them.
Now, read back that above sentence, but replace ‘Simeone’ with ‘Mourinho’ and it still makes complete sense. However, Simeone is a coach lauded across Europe, whereas Jose is a manager that commands respect for his achievements but is seen as the vile human being that he is.
Two identical personalities and management styles, yet one is loathed and one is heralded.
Both managers have a passion for well-drilled, defensively-minded units, that stifle and suffocate the opposition. But Simeone is always praised for a defensive masterclass, whilst Mourinho sides are labelled boring.
Atletico Madrid's defensive record under Diego Simeone:
135 clean sheets
Absolutely bonkers! pic.twitter.com/bvYEgsfUjW
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 27, 2016
This isn’t a defence of Mourinho – the guy is a despicable human being – and the Premier League is better off without him. But the fact that the former Porto manager has managed in the Premier League is really the only difference between him and Simeone.
So that has to be the reason that Diego Simeone isn’t viewed with the same contempt that Jose is(?). Simeone seems to be benefitting from ‘well he must be good because he’s smashing it abroad’ mindset that so many have flourished from in the past.
The truth is, none of us watch Atletico Madrid intently, and truly understand them as a team – watching the odd La Liga game on a Sunday night whilst playing Football Manager doesn’t count. And therefore our opinions are based upon the media and the fact Simeone’s Madrid clearly are doing something right by consistently upsetting Real and Barca, and reaching finals of Europe’s top competitions.
It’s a cool bandwagon to be on; I get that. But give Simeone a season in charge of a top Premier League side and I have no doubt that he’ll be as despised as Mourinho is, as a manager and as a person, and deservedly so.