clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Simeone was right to test Atletico Madrid's ambitions

Why Simeone needs to be at a club just as ambitious as him

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

I'm reminded at every turn of the conundrum Diego Simeone finds himself in at Atletico Madrid. Listening to Jason Isbell's song The Blue is one instance. When he sings, "I'd crawl to meet you if you'd just stay there" I can't help but think it's a plea being made by Atletico Madrid to the Champions League trophy to just stay where it is as they slowly make their way towards it.

It's a trophy, however, that won't sit still and while the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid are keeping pace with its many twists and turns, Atletico will always be crawling towards it. If they don't act now, they could be left as far away as ever.

It's the crux of why Simeone left the club in an ambiguous fashion after their heartbreaking defeat at the San Siro. He knows just how close they are but how far away they could be if they don't speed up and figure out a way to keep in touch.

Simeone, a clearly ambitious man, needs to test Atletico's ambitions and see where they stand in bringing in the very best talent in world football.

It would not be hyperbole to suggest that Diego Simeone is the club right now. You've got some world class young talent, and in Andrea Bertra, a sporting director who is highly-rated, but without Simeone, you don't have the La Liga title or the Champions League finals, or the Copa del Rey, or the hundreds of pundits and thousands upon thousands of fans singing their praises and secretly hoping the Argentine might one day join their club.

There is a train of thought that suggests if you are not moving forward at 100 miles per hour then you are slowly dying in business and the same can be said for football. And this is when you are on an even footing with competitors, which is something Atletico Madrid can not boast. In order to create a sustainable competitive advantage, you must assess at every juncture. Assess when you win and assess when you lose, even if that means asking uncomfortable questions and forcing the club to look itself directly in the mirror and ask itself where it's going.

Even Mediaset, the Spanish broadcasting company, made more money than Atletico Madrid did last season from expanding TV rights. When Diego Simeone says his club are fighting for third place every year, he is not lying. Atletico can not compete at the very top of European football for a sustainable amount of time if they do not make a decision to bring in the very best in world football and put money down now to keep their best talent to ensure Atletico keep moving forward. It would also mean the top footballers that are already there might also feel inclined to stay and see what's next for the club.

Simeone, a clearly ambitious man, needs to test Atletico's ambitions and see where they stand on making the next step forward. They have done a good job in recent windows of holding on to their top talent despite losing Diego Costa to Chelsea after their successful 2014-15 season but that is no longer enough, they have to be proactive in the window and Simeone needs certain assurances.

And so you have Atletico in a state of unknown at the moment. It's not the worst place to be and some introspection can do the world of good. The good times won't last forever and Diego Simeone won't always be in the dugout. He will want his legacy to remain in tact and by moving the club forward and asking some uncomfortable questions, he is at least giving Atletico Madrid the best chance in the future.

So, while the Champions League won't stay still for any team, the least Atletico can say that are doing is actively pursuing it.