Atletico Madrid were been beaten in heartbreaking circumstances by their bitter cross-town rivals for the second time in three years on the biggest stage in club football. Enough to break a team, but it won’t happen to this Rojiblancos side; their Lion-Hearted manager won’t let it.
The little brother in town for so many years, Atletico had talent, but it couldn’t quite click, plus, being stuck behind Real Madrid and Barcelona doesn’t help. However, in recent years, their talent has shone through and their results has made them a club that players want to be at. After years of just being a team in La Liga, they can lay claim to being one of the teams in La Liga. They beat out Barcelona and Real Madrid for the title two years ago, and have now gotten to the Champions League final twice in three years. No small feat.
Marshalled by the performances of the likes of David Villa, Mario Mandzukic, Koke, Saul, Fernando Torres, Felipe Luis and Gabi over the past few seasons, their results have been driven by a fierce competitive spirit and an unwavering desire and determination to be better then what people expect of them. All driven by their manager, the inspiring fire-brand Diego Simeone.
Equal parts Fierce, tough and off his rocker, Simeone demands the best from both his charges and his staff – don’t believe me, he slapped an assistant last month when an attacking play broke down!
He may be a loose cannon sometimes, but the important thing is, he knows what he wants from his players, and he knows how to get it. In the Champions League Final this year, Antione Greizman missed a penalty which, looking at it now, would have won Atletico the game, Simeone pulled him aside and gave him a strong coaches pep-talk to lift his sprites. A perfect example of why he won’t let these disappointments break his team. Even in times of utter disappear, he knows what to say to ensure his team stays on their course.
When he has every right to be mad with his players, he wasn’t. He understood the situation and most importantly, he understood what Greizman would be feeling after the miss. He is a man manager who uses his playing experience to connect with his players on an entirely different level to others.
He knows the game, he knows the emotion and nine times out of ten, he knows the solution to the problems the game throws up. His ability to deal with big personnel changes also shows that he is a man manager, he knows how to work with different people quickly and effectively, with the loss the likes of David Villa, Thibaut Courtois, Jackson Martinez and Mario Mandzukic in recent seasons, it could have easily fallen apart, but it hasn’t. It further shows that Simeone knows how to impart his philosophy in an easy and understandable manner no matter the personnel he is working with.
This has been obvious in the results, but also in the resurrection of the career of Ateltico favourite son, Fernando Torres who had fallen from grace with his time at Chelsea and AC Milan, under Simeone, he has not only regained his spark, but also, most importantly his belief in himself. Simeone will be known for a lot, but what he has done for Fernando Torres should not be overlooked.
The ushering in and development of key young talent such as Saul and Jose Gimenez was another inspired move. With the duo in the team, there has been a renewed sense of urgency and a new dash of flair which has aided their stay at the top.
The loss will sting the team, but it won’t hurt them in the long run, not while Simeone is in charge. He will use it as the proverbial petrol on the flame of desire that he his light in his squad to become the best, and one day soon, they will reach the top of that mountain.