Hours after Atlético Madrid’s Executive Board publicly announced its decision to can coach Gregorio Manzano, both the club’s president, Enrique Cerezo, and its general manager and majority shareholder, Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, spoke to the press regarding the team’s current state of affairs.
“We submitted an offer to ‘el Cholo’ Simeone,” Cerezo told reporters at a press conference held at the Vicente Calderón late Thursday evening, confirming quite possibly what everyone in the world of football has known for days.
“He is very pleased, but now the contract must be negotiated,” Cerezo said.
The kooky president then pandered to the Rojiblanco fan base.
“Simeone is who we want and who the people want at this time,” he said.
“Between today and tomorrow we will have an answer. He’s the best choice in these times.
“He’s a good option, especially because of his excitement about coming and the affection he has for the club.”
Later Thursday evening, question-mark-faced director Gil Marín made an appearance on Spanish radio station Cadena SER, where he proceeded to distort reality for a period of close to 40 minutes.
Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo transcribed the interview on its Atlético Madrid news and information Twitter account.
On the treatment of Manzano
“Manzano has not been mistreated,” Gil Marín said on the station’s “El Larguero” radio programme.
“This is how football works. He was bid farewell after the cup [loss] on Wednesday. No one from Atlético had contacted any manager until after [the loss to] Betis.
“We put a poor image on display in Getafe, but there was no meeting afterwards. We thought things had to change after the Betis match.
“We only very recently spoke to ‘el Cholo’. We felt shameful about being eliminated by a Segunda B team. It’s an embarrassment but it has to help us grow.”
On when Simeone is expected to arrive
“We would like for Simeone to be here in Madrid on Monday and begin working right away to join the team when he returns,” he said.
On the protests at the Calderón and those calling for his exit
“19 years wears one down,” he said.
“It’s normal that the people get tired of seeing the same faces. There’s a minority that is looking for changes.
“That minority of 500 people infect others when things go badly. When there is success, that minority is silent.”
He continued: “Am I tired of this? No. I continue to have hope and strength. Have I thought about leaving? Millions of times.
“That exit will come when someone comes and gives us what is fair for our shares. I own 56 per cent of the shares. Between 2003 and 2004 we have spent 54 million euros.”
On the accusations that the club’s shares were taken by the Gil family and their cohorts illegally, as a Madrid court held
“The theft of the club incident took place in ’94, when I wasn’t there; my father was,” said Gil Marín, referring to his infamous father Jesús Gil y Gil, who served as Atleti president for 16 years beginning in 1987 up until 2003 before passing away in May of 2004.
On Atleti’s latest crisis
“Football is an emotional state and we’ve been through this depression during other seasons,” he said.
“Other clubs have changed coaches many more times and no one has said anything about it. Football is a crusher.”
On the media’s alleged responsibility in swaying supporter opinion
“The press manages the situation,” he said.
“They’ve placed pressure on Manzano since the first day. Manzano was disrespected since the first day, when it was said he was our fourth choice.”
He continued: “In recent years, we have always taken part in Champions League and Europa League. That’s an objective fact.
“The media conditions the emotional state of the fans.”
On what he expects from Simeone
“We hope that Diego [Simeone] can change this dynamic,” he said.
“He has only been given the objective of finishing in the top four. This squad was put together to finish in a Champions League spot.
“Diego [Simeone] is familiar with the squad and the league, and is coming to work with a clear head and following successes in the Argentine league.
“I have spoken to him today. I have told him that I am happy he is coming. He’s excited about returning. We are going to give him all the power, just like we have given every other coach we have had.”
On the possible friction between sporting director José Luis Caminero and Simeone due to personal issues in the past, when they were both members of the team
“Caminero is coordinating the coaching staff with Simeone,” he said.
“It was Caminero who suggested [we hire] el Cholo.”
On the rumours in the Spanish media suggesting Caminero could also be dismissed shortly
“Caminero? We can’t change the structure of the club every time things go wrong,” he said.
“The ultimate responsibility is mine, then comes Caminero’s. The possibility of Caminero leaving hasn’t been considered.
“When things are bad it’s easy to pick everything apart. Caminero is doing his job.”
On other managers considered to replace Manzano
“Simeone communicated his excitement and desire to come,” he said.
“We only tried to hire Benítez in the summer. In the summer my hope was to sign Luis Enrique. It could not be and I told Caminero to [choose a manager]. He said the coach would be Manzano.”
On the possibility of new signings over the upcoming winter transfer window
“I don’t know who el Cholo has in mind when it comes to reinforcements,” Gil Marín said.
“There will only be signings if there are departures. There could be [some exits] because we have 24 [players] on payroll.
“Reyes’ exit depends on him and Simeone. If it were up to me, he wouldn’t leave.”
On his role at the club
“It’s been six years that I don’t go to a game,” he said.
“I don’t have to show my face. I manage and Cerezo represents. I work for the club and the weekends are sacred. They are for my family.
“I worry about the minority [opposition] but I will continue to work. There is a minority that goes to [the stadium] to insult.”
He continued: “The majority of people go to the Calderón to watch their team play. If we win they don’t show any disgust.
“In football, there’s an excessive demand to give explanations. I only come out to put out fires.
“Nobody remembers me when things are going well.”