Football likes to think of itself as moving in cycles, but generally, that refers to three or four years in one place. World Cups and the Euros move at that pace too, with only a select few managers able to outlast that time period, fewer still successfully.
Atletico Madrid have been in a state of flux for some time now, and the situation has only gotten worse. With the team currently 13 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and having recently lost to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey, many are wondering if this could be the end for manager Diego Simeone.
Atletico Madrid icon Diego Simeone is now entering his 12th year at the helm of the club, having taken them to heights never seen before in the Rojiblanco half of Madrid. In an era of domination between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with La Liga more set up than ever for the pair to duopolise domestic matters, Atleti managed to wrestle two titles from them. Simeone has also brought home a Copa del Rey victory and two Europa Leagues, not to mention making two Champions League finals. The lesser said about them the better though.
Yet increasingly there is a sense that El Cholo might be coming to the end of his tenure. Nobody would have bet on them getting knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage, fewer still would have put money on the coming last behind Club Brugge, Bayer Leverkusen and Porto.
The bookies odds on Diego Simeone leaving his position are shortening by the day though. A curious team, packed with quality, they struggle against smaller opposition as much, if not more, than against the big guns. Certainly from a betting perspective, they make an interesting side to work out.
Then there is the curious case of Joao Felix. The Portuguese forward, now on loan, without an option to buy, never quite clicked with Simeone. Atletico Madrid’s record investment, it would be rather convenient if Simeone was to leave and Felix return. It had become clear that the two never shared the same outlook on football.
He isn’t the only one though. One of the major criticisms of Simeone these days is that he does not get enough out of his resources. That was previously the very thing that made him such an incredible manager earlier in his Atleti days. Yet with the exception of their league title two seasons ago, which is a tremendous exception, it has felt as if Simeone is getting less and less out of his players for several seasons.
The speculation was further fueled by Simeone’s recent comments about his future at Atletico. El Chiringuito TV recently reported that that he would be leaving at the end of the season. It also hinted that he could be headed to a Premier League team next season.
The situation has become even more complicated after Simeone’s comments following Atletico’s loss to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey. He blamed refereeing decisions for their defeat and claiming that ‘nobody cares’. This has only added fuel to the fire of speculation surrounding Simeone’s future at Atletico Madrid.
What has become clear is that Atletico Madrid need a change. Whether that be the squad, the recruitment department or Simeone himself, something is not working at Atleti these days, and it is not a new problem. More often than not, the manager carries the can.