Former Argentina captain
Diego Simeone played to the gallery when he promised to put the
bite back into Atletico Madrid at his presentation as their new
coach on Tuesday.
The 41-year-old, who was an uncompromising defensive
midfielder often described as having played with a knife between
his teeth, has been brought in to replace Gregorio Manzano
following the Spanish club's erratic start to the campaign.
"I like an aggressive team," Simeone told a packed news
conference at the Calderon. "I want to see a team that is
strong, committed and quick on the break.
"These are things which Atletico fans have always liked, it
helps them identify with and love this shirt."
With his close-cropped hair and stubbled chin, Simeone
looked every inch the grizzled warrior as he spoke, striking a
strong contrast with his predecessor Manzano, a softly-spoken
55-year-old nicknamed 'the professor'.
Manzano's six months in charge came to an end when Atletico
were knocked out of the King's Cup by third-tier Albacete last
week, and they lie 10th in La Liga.
Simeone is hugely popular at the Calderon, where he returns
after two stints as a player.
In his first spell he helped the side to a league and King's
Cup double back in 1996 and as he spoke on Tuesday a huge queue
of fans waited outside the stadium to try and grab a glimpse of
"I always had it as an objective to return to Atletico as
coach," Simeone said.
"I'm going to bring the work ethic and enthusiasm I have
always had. The responsibility is enormous but it doesn't scare
me. It excites me. I have always risen to challenges and this is
just one more."
Simeone has only been in Spain one day, having quit his post
at Argentina's Racing Club last week, and preferred to avoid
specifics when asked about future objectives.
"Atletico always demands the very best, but all I am
thinking about is Malaga," he said Referring to their next match
when La Liga resumes on January 7. "Anything else is fantasy. I
live for reality."
One of the first decisions facing him is whether to hang on
to mercurial forward Jose Antonio Reyes, one of the squad's most
talented players, but who was sidelined after falling out with
former coach Manzano.
"We will listen and see what the situation is with regards
to the players," Simeone said. "I want to have the best but I
like those who want to be here. Reyes is a very important
Simeone is the 10th coach to take the helm at Atletico since
they returned to the top flight under Luis Aragones in 2002.
They won the Europa League and European Super Cup 18 months
ago, their first taste of silverware in 14 years, but
instability continues to blight the club.
Simeone will lead Atletico against another of his former
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