In yesterday's Life After Arsene, A.S. Roma's popular and successful manager Rudi Garcia's merits to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal were weighed and debated. Today we cover one of the most polarizing managers in the world, Diego Simeone.
Brief managerial history: A mixed bag when first starting out as a manager, which may surprise those not familiar with his work prior to Atletico Madrid.
Simeone immediately went into management after his retirement as a player in 2006, taking over Racing as they finished out that season's Clasura. He was appointed manager of Estudiantes after his managerial debut season, where he took them to their first league title. However, he left the La Playa club shortly after the start of the following season where a bad stretch of results led to his exit. Simeone rebounded, making stops at powerhouse River Plate (before their relegation in 2011), San Lorenzo, Italian club Catania, another spell back at Racing, before becoming manager at Atletico Madrid in 2011.
Since his arrival in Madrid, his profile's jumped to folk hero status among los rojiblancos faithfuls. He's won La Liga, besting Real Madrid and Barcelona. He's won the Europa League. He's won the Copa del Ray. He would have won the Champions League, however, due to getting Ramos'd and Ronaldo'd in the dying minutes of the match this past May, he settled for runners-up. All of this in just two-and-a-half years, with a limited transfer budget. Like him or not, Diego Simeone's a proven, repeated winner on different stages.
Is there an Arsenal connection? No.
Does he have an Arsene Wenger connection? No.
Pros: Are you one that's upset with recent Arsenal sides that appear disorganized or lacking cohesion under Wenger? Fear no more with Diego Simeone.
His devotion to organization when not in possession is borderline OCD. It's safe to say that his style is about as opposite of Arsene as it can get. Simeone expects every player on the pitch to press their opponents, efficiently tackle, and counter from a midfield and back four that he prefers to stay as compact as possible when dropping back defensively.
Simeone prefers to play a traditional 4-4-2. His two forwards are usually capable of dropping back to collect quickly-taken long balls fresh off their teammates winning possession, which enables them to spring forward speedy wingers ahead of the opposition fullbacks. It's an intense affair when going against his sides for their constant physicality, efficiency in possession, and organization that's difficult to break down. He's a popular pick for many managerial openings for many reasons, but none more than his teams appear to be very well coached, confident in every match they play, and win points on a consistent basis.
Oh, and he knows how to defeat Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, having bested them in last season's Champions League knockout rounds that included a 3-1 destruction at Stamford Bridge.
Cons: Well, how do I put this? He's a bit of an ass, very much a hot-head, and his players take a lot of his bulldog personality on when playing. He didn't become the acclaimed and decorated player he was without possessing a trench-like mentality, and it's clear his influences translates to his squad and their play during matches.
Earlier this season he was banned for eight matches due to making contact with the fourth official's head in a moment of insanity. He had to be held back by Luka Modric and his coaching staff after he animatedly confronted Real Madrid's Raphael Varane in the Champions League Final defeat (this was after going on the pitch to scream at the official for granting, what he thought was, too much injury time). He's got a short fuse (see what I did there?) and as a result he's not someone well-liked by many - positive match results and trophies be dammed.
Additionally, if you're one who generally likes the current Arsenal roster, then getting Diego Simeone aboard is the last thing you want to see. His tactics and setup don't really fit within the majority of the players Wenger's assembled, such as Mesut Ozil, and only a few, like Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey, appear on the surface to translate into a Simeone team.
Overall assessment: This would be the ultimate thinking-outside-the-box hire that the Board could make as a statement to their supporters and observant media they're completely moving away from Arsene Wenger and the style he's famous for. His approach to the sport would seamlessly transition to a league as physical and direct as the EPL, so given that he's able to get the players he can trust there's little doubt he'd make Arsenal an immediate contender for the league.
However, much like Mourinho, being an irritating troll can be too hard to overcome. Arsenal prides itself, rightfully (or accurately) or not, on "class" and "doing things the right way." During the days and times when Wenger was collecting league titles and cups, fans often beat their chest declaring this was the only way the club would ever operate.
But the times have changed for a large part of that group. Some want results; morals and character need not apply. For those people, they look at Simeone's success and find it hard to ignore him when thinking of Arsene Wenger's eventual successor.
In Monday's Life After Arsene, we take a look at a manager whose experience in the Premier League and analytics has quickly earned him many supporters.