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Diego Simeone: The Best Manager in World Football

Wednesday 1st June 2016
During his four and a half years in charge of Atletico Madrid, Simeone has exceeded all expectations. The fiery Argentine has reawakened one of football's ‘sleeping giants', by using his own style and methods Simeone has changed the fortunes around at Atletico Madrid, in the process elevating them to be known as one of the most feared sides in Europe. Whilst at the same time establishing himself as one of the best managers in world football.

In December 2011, Diego Simeone was appointed the manager of Atletico Madrid. It was only his second managerial job in Europe, having previously had a short spell in charge of Italian club Catania. Simeone's previous managerial experience was mostly based in his homeland Argentina, where he guided both Estudiantes and River Plate to the domestic title. Simeone was already considered a good manager at this time, although he was still unproven in Europe. So how did Simeone achieve so much in such a short space of time at Madrid? And why should ‘El Cholo' be regarded as the finest manager currently operating in world football?
Since Simeone was appointed the manager of Atletico Madrid, he has guided the club to five major trophies, and two Champions League finals. The first success came in 2012, when Simeone led Atletico to the Europa League trophy, with a 3-0 victory over fellow Spanish side Athletic Bilbao. This was just the beginning of things to come, as over the next few seasons, Simeone managed to build a team that could compete with the very best sides in Europe. The first sign we saw of this was during the 2012 UEFA Super Cup final, played between Simeone's Atletico, and Champions League winners Chelsea. It was the Spanish team who came out on top, demolishing the champions of Europe, 4-1. Atletico had sent out a message across Europe, they were on their way to becoming a real force under Diego Simeone. It was an incredible night in Bucharest for Simeone and his players, but there were bigger and better things awaiting them.

In the same season, Atletico added to their trophy cabinet by winning the Copa Del Rey. A 2-1 victory over their fierce rivals Real Madrid made the triumph extra special. Diego Simeone had molded together a team which could compete with the biggest ‘powerhouses' in European football. What made it all the more remarkable was the fact that Simeone was bringing success to Atletico whilst spending only a fraction on players compared to his biggest rivals in Spain. A third place finish in the League also ensured Simeone would be given his first taste of Champions League football as a manager the following season.

The 2013-2014 campaign was Simeone's most successful to date. He led his team to their first La Liga title in 13 years, an incredible achievement considering the competition he faced. Somehow Simeone had turned Spanish football upside down, by ending the dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid. That same season, Simeone also guided Atletico to the Champions League final, they came out second best on the night to their great rivals Real Madrid, but came so close to claiming the title. Only a 93rd-minute equaliser from Sergio Ramos denied Simeone and his men. Although the Champions League final ended in heartbreak, Simeone had molded Atletico into one of the ‘superpowers' of European football, and in the process established himself as one of the greatest managers in the club's history.
The following season saw Atletico lift the Spanish Super Cup. A 2-1 aggregate win over Real Madrid once again proving that Simeone's team were capable of beating anyone. A third place finish in La Liga, and last eight appearance in the Champions League was a disappointment considering the club's exploits the previous campaign, which proves just how far the club had come. Simeone had installed a winning mentality into his players, only finishing first was satisfactory in his eyes.

This season has seen Atletico once again compete at the top of La Liga. Although they had to settle for another third place finish, as Barcelona claimed the title on the final day. It was in the Champions League where Simeone's team excelled this campaign, defeating two of the best teams in Europe (Barcelona and Bayern Munich) on their way to reaching their second Champions League final in three seasons. Once again they would come face-to-face with their greatest rivals Real Madrid in the final of Europe's top club competition. Many people believed Atletico were the favourites to win this game. Which goes to show how far Simeone has taken this team in his time at the club. Atletico were now perceived to be a stronger unit than the ‘mighty' Real Madrid.

It wasn't to be Atletico's night in Milan. They put in a typically brave performance, fighting until the very end, but lost out on penalties. It was a devastating blow for Simeone and his players, the second time Atletico had reached the Champions League final, only to be defeated by Real Madrid. Although the wait for their first Champions League triumph continues, there are still many reasons for Simeone and his men to be proud of their accomplishments this season. The team is now one of the most feared in Europe, Simeone will continue to maintain the high standards at the club, and it won't be too long before Atletico get another chance at Champions League glory.

Diego Simeone is often viewed as a controversial character. His win at all costs attitude can often lead him to step over the line in games. But there is no doubt Simeone's enthusiasm on the touch-line can lift his team to another level. No manager is as passionate about the game as the Argentine. He has the ability to lift the players at the right time, and he can also produce a response from his own supporters when it's most needed. He demands the absolute best from his players every game, failure is not an option. Simeone is unique to any other manager, he can be loved or hated in equal measure, but the one thing he can never be is ignored. What he has achieved during his time at the Vicente Calderon is unrivalled anywhere in the world of football.
During the reign of Simeone, Atletico have mastered their own style of play. The basics of which are to work hard, play at a high intensity, and fight for every ball. No other team plays with as much passion as Atletico, Simeone has created something unique at the club. Not only has he managed to get the players on board regarding his style, but he has also installed the belief into them that anything is possible. Atletico play to their strengths, which also emulate the strengths Simeone possessed as a player. Simeone's Atletico defend like warriors, they possess the best defensive record in Spain. Atletico often perform best when they are the underdogs, preferring to let the opposition keep the ball, and then hit them on the counter-attack. Whilst always playing at a high tempo, closing down all over the pitch, and not giving the opposition any breathing space. These are the tactics that have been so successful over recent seasons for Simeone. He has molded the team into his way of thinking, the results of which have been spectacular.

Simeone's immense ability as a manager exceeds far farther than just his tactical awareness and unique style. He also has the talent of being able to develop a player. Diego Godin is a good example. The powerful Uruguayan centre-back has flourished under the guidance of Simeone, Godin is now considered one of the best centre-backs around. Diego Costa also excelled under Simeone at Atletico, Costa played a key role in the title-winning side, establishing himself as a world-class striker in the process. This past season we have witnessed the incredible talent of Antoine Griezmann, Simeone has had a huge role in the development of the French star. Simeone has not only improved Atletico, he has also had a big part to play in improving numerous players during their time at the club.
Many top managers will mostly rely on their most experienced players, but Diego Simeone places his trust in younger players in important games. During his time at Atletico, Simeone has nurtured young talents into the first team, with incredible success. Koke has improved massively under the guidance of Simeone, the Spanish midfielder plays a huge role in the current Atletico set-up, and he is also now established at international level. Another young Spanish midfielder who has excelled this season is Saul Niguez. Saul has been one of the shining lights in La Liga this campaign, earning a call-up to the national side in the process. Simeone understands the importance of youth, developing top young players is essential for any big club, it ensures that the club will continue to be strong in the future. This is one area where Simeone is a step ahead of other top managers in the game.
To be regarded as the best manager in world football there are certain criteria that have to be met. First, the teams you have managed have to have had some form of success, Simeone has exceeded all expectations in this regard, leading Atletico to five major trophies in just over four years at the club. Secondly, the team must challenge for all major honours available, something which Simeone has continued to do as manager of Atletico for the last three seasons. Lastly, the manager must develop players, and install belief within the group, Simeone is, without doubt, one of the best managers around at doing this. Not only does Simeone tick all the boxes required, he has also managed to achieve it all with only a fraction of the money available compared to his managerial rivals. No other manager in the modern game has accomplished a feat like we are witnessing at Atletico, It's not only the results which are impressive, but the consistency, Atletico have been close to the top of European football ever since the arrival of Simeone, and that doesn't look like it is going to change in the near future. Simeone's success as a manager is unparalleled, which is why he is undeniably the world's best manager.
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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