Atlético boss Diego Simeone paid a visit to COPE’s studios Monday evening, appearing on the Spanish radio station’s late night ‘El Partido de las 12’ programme.
‘El Cholo’ fielded questions on a number of topics, modestly responding to inquiries regarding the mystique behind the ‘Cholo effect’, his objectives for Atleti this season, and his thoughts on other current Rojiblanco affairs.
Below is an excerpt of the interview, the full transcript and audio of which can be found on COPE’s website here.
“Do you feel like the fashionable [or, in style] coach in Spain?”
We are before an experience that requires a lot of commitment and responsibility. These are situations that you journalists like; framing us in a certain way or other.
On the so-called “Cholo effect”
I don’t dwell on that stuff. I know our objective is to improve and grow. We began our campaign from the back-end and today, we are in a much better position, without forgetting to take it game-by-game and with hard work, you’ll find what you [set yourself out for].
“Is this the most important week since your arrival?”
It depends on how you look at it. When I arrived, we were looking at everything and we said “we always play away”. Plus, they were hard games: Málaga, Rome [Lazio], Barcelona…but names don’t change me. The points that you can take from Barça have the same value as those from Sporting.
On Diego’s injury
His injury hurts me more than the two points lost in Gijón, but we have alternative options available.
“Is Champions League qualification the goal?”
Right now [our objective] is Lazio. We have to stress the competition we are taking part in. In order to get somewhere, you must live things day-by-day.
On abrupt departure from former job at Racing de Avellaneda in Argentina
Atlético called me and I did nothing more than travel to take on this challenge.
“Are you living a dream come true?”
It’s a reality. When I left Atlético I knew there was a possibility for me to return. But as a football player, I already gave all that I had to give […] I always had a feeling that it would turn out this way. When one searches, one finds.
“What is the magic?”
There’s an idea, a style, and the most important thing: that the players understand and want to follow you. Luckily, we have people that have desire. In this case, we understand each other. It was a mutual feeling. The coaches marked the path and the players are the ones that are achieving.
“With Manzano, the players didn’t believe. Now, the players say ‘Cholo’ ignites them.”
The most difficult thing in football is to have a style. Real Madrid and Barcelona play with Ferraris, we have another car. Words are unnecessary, what matters are actions and what the players show. There’s always some trait of the coach in the players. What excites me most about coaching is the challenge of getting more from the players. I live thinking that I can get something better from each player.
“Do you have the third fastest car on the grid?”
I’ll tell you at the end. Let’s not put labels on it because the headlines will come out tomorrow (Simeone laughs). Atleti comes out of suffering, of saving themselves at the last minute, and with a strong group, with people that want to win, I can go anywhere.
On “creating one chance and scoring one goal”
It’s what I think about football. Football is winning. Then, we are given a bunch of stories. Playing well is the path to victory, but what is ‘playing well’? Defending good, making more passes? It’s the same story as always…mamma mía!
Would you ever coach Real Madrid?
No, it would be foolish. Plus, they better not call me! I am a Racing [Argentina] fan and I know I will never coach Independiente.
On whether or not he would discipline Arda, who was spotted out late Saturday night at a nightclub in Madrid and earlier, at a casino, despite having suffered an injury that same day that prevented him from travelling to Gijón
I don’t comment on such matters in public.
Rapid-fire question and answer session:
Will Real Madrid win the league?
Do you understand Pep’s doubts about renewing?
I understand he is looking for another challenge elsewhere, to see if he is capable of doing the same thing somewhere else.
Do you see yourself at Atlético for many years?
Yes. I have, at the moment, one more year [on my contract].
Is Adrián due for a call-up to the Spanish national team?
I think that, if he continues to grow, a lot of beautiful things will happen for him.
Who is number one: Messi or Cristiano?
Messi, without a doubt. He will win his fourth Ballon d’Or.
What’s the problem with Cholo that he has 70 suits that are all the same?
[No problem], they’re all the same.
Why do you copy the way Guardiola dresses?
Guardiola began coaching after I did.
Do you have a release clause in case Argentina calls you?