captain Diego Simeone has quit as Racing Club coach fanning
media speculation he might be in line to take charge of Atletico
Madrid where he shone as a midfielder.
Gregorio Manzano is fighting for survival at Atletico where
the fans are in open revolt against him and the board with the
side in mid-table after some wildly erratic performances.
Manzano was clearly riled by suggestions on Tuesday that
Simeone's exit was the first step towards the former Atletico
fan favourite being appointed as his replacement.
"At the moment I speak as Atletico coach," the 55-year-old
told a news conference ahead of their King's Cup second leg tie
at home to Albacete on Wednesday, a game widely viewed by media
as likely to be his last. They trail the third-tier team 2-1.
"But it is obvious that the press are much better informed
than I am by the club, directly or indirectly, as to what is
happening. Is this ethical?
"I want to continue. Now is the time to seek solutions not
someone to blame."
Simeone shocked the Racing board and new president Gaston
Cogorno, elected at the weekend, by notifying the club late on
Monday through his sister and agent Natalia that he was leaving.
"I always said I liked Simeone, that he was up to what we
wanted from the team... really, his departure surprised me,"
Cogorno told TyC Sports television on Tuesday after Simeone was
reported to be unhappy with criticism from club directors.
"You'd have to ask him if he left because he's waiting for
something from Atletico Madrid, I really don't know," added
Simeone has not spoken to the media for several weeks since
Racing's season unravelled with a 0-0 draw at Boca Juniors on
That result ended any hope Racing had of preventing
Boca winning the Apertura championship they clinched two weeks
later with two matches to spare.
The 42-year-old Simeone started having trouble with his
squad before the Boca match when he dropped midfielder Patricio
Toranzo for missing a training session yet put wayward striker
Teofilo Gutierrez in the starting line-up even though he returned
two days late from World Cup qualifying duty with Colombia.
A nervous Gutierrez did not help matters by getting himself
sent off at Boca for barging the referee and demanding a penalty
and he was suspended for two matches.
Racing went 15 matches unbeaten under Simeone, who took
charge at the start of the championship in August, but lost two
of their last four games and failed to qualify for the Copa
Libertadores, South America's top club competition.
Lifelong Racing fan Simeone joined the club, where he ended
his playing career and cut his teeth as coach in 2006, in June
after steering Catania away from the relegation zone in Serie A.
Cogorno said he hoped to sign a new coach by the end of the
year with ex-Argentina managers Alfio Basile, a former Racing
player and coach, and Nestor Pekerman among the candidates.
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