As per reports as old as 2 days or so, Chelsea are considering Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone as a replacement for the much beleaguered Jose Mourinho, as Chelsea’s performance continue to surprise and embarrass.
Simeone, who, much like Liverpool’s newly appointed manager Jurgen Klopp is a maverick in himself. He’s young, 45 and is one of the best young managers in the world right now. An Atletico Madrid legend, Simeone hasn’t been Los Rojiblancos through and through but most associate Simeone with Atletico’s 2014 La Liga triumph and their fantastic run into the semifinals, that was halted by a rampaging Real Madrid. With Atleti, Simeone has claimed the UEFA Europa League in 2012 and has won the Copa Del Rey once, that being in the 2012-13 season.
No matter how much glory the Argentine has accumulated, whenever a manager switches clubs, he is bound to experience something different and adapt to it somehow, if not anyhow. All the great managers of this world take some time in finding their feet under the table and putting it down firmly in there. And for a club which is in some turmoil such as Chelsea, coming in at a tough time would be tough, to say the least.
Simeone is someone who believes in a footballing philosophy that is often compared to that of Stoke City, to sound honest. The players are well built and strong, in the physical aspects of the game, especially those who have to sit back and defend. Simeone’s centre-halves and holding midfielders always seem to ooze a different kind of a swag altogether. They have a certain kind of arrogance about their presence that clearly suggests the physical force that they use to cut out attacks.
he Defence has been a vital part of Simeone’s armory since time immemorial. The defenders work hard to close down the spaces in the infield, and mark players tightly, apart from being physically dominant in their approach. The main and the most simplest objective is to stay compact and organized, denying the opposition of openings to score. Another vital part of Simeone’s style is that every single player has to contribute defensively and track back to cut out opposition attacks, but at the same time, has to press high up the pitch too. The system holds the key and not the players personal goals of achieving something. This pressing has to be done such that the organization doesn’t get disturbed or players come out of position, allowing the opposition some space to work with. It has to be done when the players are cent percent sure of winning the ball or the chances of winning it back are more than not doing the same.
It’s needless to say that Simeone has taken a leaf out of Mourinho’s tactics, but it’s highly commendable to see the philosophy being used at a club that wasn’t as big as Chelsea once upon a time. And this playing style has actually transformed Atletico Madrid into one of the most hardworking sides in the world.
After they win the ball, there’s a bit more of that element of fluidity about Simeone’s sides, when compared to Mourinho’s traditional sides. They move the forward quicker and with more pace, with a directness that is disturbing for the opposition.
His sides sit in a 4-4-2 formation, in which, as soon a they lose the ball in the final third, the two midfielders drop deep, with the wide players coming slightly narrower, supporting the two midfielders. To stay compact in the final third, Atletico are happy to give time and space to the opposition outside the box, allowing them to play around the perimeter. They play narrow football, but once a loose ball comes up, two players hound it and one makes a run forward. The need for wingers who can function effectively well in the midfield is a must.
At Chelsea, Mourinho had adopted a similar system, but the amount of pressing was considerably less than Atletico, unlike the modern day managers such as Roger Schmidt, Mauricio Pochetinno, Jurgen Klopp and Simeone himself. But the difference that lies in both managers is that Simeone’s host of players was more willing to work hard and pull their socks up for the manager and do anything for the team. Mourinho’s team doesn’t have that much of intensity, physicality and hard working nature.
If Diego Simeone does end up coming to Chelsea, the Blues would need to make some changes in their squad. The players would have to be a more energetic in pressing up front, and also more efficient in pressing enough to give no options to passers but for playing to sideways and such that they themselves don’t get dragged out of position.
Simeone’s achieved big things with a budget, that is no match to Chelsea’s, who signed both Diego Costa and Filipe Luis. Given a bigger budget, he can bring laurels to Blues fans, provided he has a set of hard working players who can play their skins out for the manager.