Is Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone era coming to an end after derby loss spotlights growing problems?

When greatness fades, when the extraordinary becomes extremely ordinary, it is almost always difficult to tell.

The reason why Hans Christian Andersen’s fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is still famous today, where the king loses sight of reality and is tricked by weavers into wearing nothing at all, but the subjects of the kingdom prolong his humiliation with silence , isn’t just to teach us a lesson about society’s urge to bow to the feet of the great and powerful. Part of this moral tale also explains that it can be awkward, ungrateful, and even opportunistic to shout, “Look in the mirror!” when what was once majestic has become short-sighted, muddled, and mediocre.

Which of course brings us to Madrid derby, the state of Atletico Madrid, the racism directed against Vinicius Jr., how Emperor Diego Simeone is doing and how soon someone like the brutally honest child in the Danish fable will be screaming, “Cholo has no clothes on!” Please don’t let Madrid’s one-goal margin of victory fool you on a heated, sometimes spectacular but unsettling Sunday derbi Madrilene.

Atleti was largely cruel. Again.

The short-sighted, the misguided loyalists, those who fear change and those who tremble when they hand out Simeone’s eight-figure annual salary multiplied by the 20 months remaining on his contract (approx), points out that Atleti’s two best defenders, Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Gimenez, absent.

You will rave about it Los Rojiblancos won this derby at the Metropolitano just last May. That the home side were full of energy in the first 15 minutes on Sunday. They will say, “Can’t you see the beauty of his ermine and how finely tailored Cholo’s robes really are?” They will say, “Can’t you be satisfied with the former? [trophy] splendor?”

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But the current decrepit state of Atleti’s game sharpness, game stamina, tactics, defence, attention to detail, competitiveness, mentality, creativity, injury prevention, game system and player morale is not solely due to that defeat during which the 2021 champions were limp, confused, third best in a pair race and even got their consolation goal at the end.

That pallid attitude, that defeat that sees Madrid eclipse eight points after just six games, represents an alarming decline. It has to be a turning point. holo Simeone’s post-game assessment, like many other pressured managers, bore little real connection to what had happened.

The hard fact is that at no point did Atleti really believe in victory after Rodrygo recklessly delivered Aurelien Tchouameni’s brilliant pass to open the scoring in the 15th minute. No urgency, no urgency – low self-confidence.

Simeone’s highly entertaining, deeply significant and undeniably historic reign at Atleti was built on aggressive confidence, talented players squeezing every last drop of effort out of themselves and red and white striped footballers who made them absolutely horrible for opponents to play against , ultra-stingy defending, and a genuine, tangible idea that “We fear no one; blink for a second and we’ll bring you down, whoever you are.”

In comparison, the central identity of Atleti over the last 11 years is completely unrecognizable. Competitors see them as easy prey. Last season, almost half of LaLiga conceded fewer goals than they did (including Getafe, who finished a point behind relegation). Atleti’s players appear confused, half-hearted, out of shape and athletically leaden.

The manager appears both uncertain and tactically frail – uncertain about filling his top eleven, even more uncertain about what formation will make Atleti a formidable side again. (Simeone trained in a 5-3-2 all week, started that way, then switched to a 4-4-2 five minutes into the game, lasting 12 minutes before Madrid cut through them to take a 1-0 lead !)

Just five times in their last 59 competitive games, Atleti have fallen a goal behind and still won. Greatly reduced ability to recover. Last season they lost three games in a row (Madrid, Seville, Granada) for the first time since their Argentinian guru took office in December 2011.

This latest loss means they risk losing three straight home games for the first time in Simeone’s previously admirable tenure. (The fact that their closest home rivals are Girona would make this an extreme disaster if it came to that).

These criticisms, and there are many more, must be seen in the context of how talented, how deep and how expensive Atleti’s squad is. In two ways, to be fair to Simeone, it’s worth noting that they beat the soon-to-be Italian champions away from home last season and also won at Old Trafford and Porto.

Also, don’t think that the general malaise is all Simeone’s fault. His fitness trainer guru, Oscar Ortega, isn’t cutting the mustard, and hasn’t been for a long time. The Return to Madrid by Antonio Pintus, Sparks Los Blancos The absolutely amazing ability to win or seal big games late has highlighted this.

It’s clear Simeone is unimpressed by some of the club’s recent signings. That is also clear El Cholo and Joao Felix are enjoying what LaLiga TV match commentator Pete Jenson called “a marriage of awkwardness”. The club still love the talented Portuguese though holo would much rather get rid of him and find a new version of young Diego Costa.

In practice, what Atleti does in relation to their coach’s situation could ultimately be heavily influenced by a board debate over ‘which horse are we bringing back here? Our record transfer investment of €126m that’s still only 22 years old… €20m a season and who’s serving tepid football right now?”

A litmus test for you, not just the men who rule at Atleti, to consider: “If Simeone had come from a team that had shown the form, attitude and competitiveness that Atleti have shown over the past 16 months, it would be he’s been rented back.” in 2011?” Or: “Will Simeone’s replacement get the job whenever that comes after he’s shown Atleti’s form for the last year and a half?”

If you are honest, the answer is crystal clear.

Recent witnesses at training have heard Simeone yell at his players: “You deserve big salaries…work harder…if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be here.” No cutting edge stuff.

There is something else that points to the great quagmire in which this normally vital, inspirational, personable and ultra-hungry man finds himself. Look at his game record. Not just what he won, but what those trophies and his arrival at the club meant. When Simeone was Rojiblancos Midfield enforcer, Atleti won the league and cup double in 1995/96 – a feat they had never done before and haven’t since.

It was Atleti’s first Spanish league title in 19 years. Something that didn’t repeat itself until he became a coach. At Inter he helped them win the UEFA Cup – only their third trophy in nine years. It took another 12 years for that Nerazzurri to win another European trophy. At Lazio, the Roman club had won just three trophies and won Serie A just once in the past 25 years. Simeone’s arrival in midfield inspired Sven Erikisson’s team to win four trophies in less than a year. Since then, Lazio have not won the title or a European trophy.

With Argentina, Simeone drove the 1991 Albiceleste to their first Copa America win in 32 years. As a coach, he won Argentina’s Apertura with Estudiantes – their first trophy in 23 years.

Excuse the stat bomb, but with his historic achievements in charge of Atleti, you’re seeing the patterns, aren’t you? Simeone, reduced to its raw core, is a catalyst. Driven, ambitious, hungry, talented, inspiring – successful.

Wild, insatiable, inspirational. Compare this information, this accurate characterization with the achievements of the current squad, their personality, the apathy, the confusion, the fallibility – the Arsene Wenger-esque “top 4 will do it, thanks.” What is your conclusion?



Julien Laurens is demanding that Atletico Madrid’s next home game be played without spectators after fans shouted racist chants at Vinicius Junior during Sunday’s Madrid derby.

It would be fantastic if Atleti could hold a summit meeting with his coach – rekindle his fire, demanding higher, more inspiring standards in day-to-day work. Freshness, wildness, new drive, ambition and in short an almost complete reset.

However, I fear that the bestial law of falling returns between the club, squad and coach has set its steel claws and will not give up. If so, the key question for Atleti is “What to do?”

The only unacceptable answer is, “Head in the sand.” The same as Atletico Madrid applied to the atrocities committed by its “Ultra” fans, who dub themselves: “Frente Atletico”.

Other people will have more direct and lasting experiences with this group exhibiting obnoxious attitudes, but I can say without question that the worst and most brutal racism I have ever experienced in Spain (or anywhere) in two decades came from this one Sector of Atleti fans.

It was a Copa Del Rey Madrid derby, in February 2014 at the Bernabeu. The two coaches were… Diego Simeone and Carlo Ancelotti. After Madrid’s 3-0 win, Ancelotti’s idle players were warming up on the pitch and Marcelo had his 4-year-old son with him, while the away fans were still locked in their part of the stadium for security reasons.

What Atleti fans yelled and chanted at Marcelo and his young son just because of their skin color was evil and unforgivable. I immediately called the TV station I was working for at the time to report that something terrible was happening. Fair play – they immediately dedicated their newscast to her.

Immediately afterwards, some Atleti fans and staff were upset and denied the situation was so disgusting – until Marcelo tweeted a social media post late that night about how he and his son had heard it all but never would intimidated, changed, or intimidated by such fools.

From then to now, Atleti have done so little of significance or impact that a significant number of their fans felt able to similarly racially abuse Vinicius Jr this weekend. It’s an ultra serious situation. It requires both severe punishment (for any club and/or fanbase, with stadium closure being the only viable way to get the point across).

More importantly, racism in football requires thorough, persistent and consistent education at all levels of Spanish society. Both sportingly and socially, it’s time for all of us to tell Atletico they are mired in self-deception.

The Emperor is without clothes. Is Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone era coming to an end after derby loss spotlights growing problems?

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