Things are returning to...semi-normal.
Atlético Madrid got back to training earlier this week under surreal circumstances. One of the team’s fullbacks could not join up with the squad but has done so now while nine other players are training — six feet apart and in groups, of course — having tested for antibodies. That indicates they probably had coronavirus earlier in this calendar year.
But LaLiga is charging ahead with its plans to resume the season in roughly a month, for better or worse. Which means we’ll have real, live football to discuss all summer long. Which means we’ll talk about personnel movement just as much as the actual games. We just can’t help ourselves.
One could say Germán Burgos is Atlético through and through. The man nicknamed “El Mono” (“the monkey”) joined Atleti in 2001, when the team was still only in
Saigon Segunda. Burgos — who always wore a cap on the pitch and fronted a rock band in his spare time — stayed on as the team’s goalkeeper until his 2004 retirement. He played alongside both Fernando Torres and Diego Simeone that year.
The fiery, eccentric Burgos coached Madrid-based semi-pro side Carabanchel before he linked up with Simeone as his countryman’s top assistant during 2011 stops at River Plate and Catania. The duo then took up places on the Vicente Calderón touchline, and the rest is history.
A couple weeks ago, I received an interesting question about Burgos from a Colchonero Chat Amigo, which I answered here, on whether he would leave Atlético in the near future. It reminded me of a January report on Simeone’s #2, and Cholo indirectly addressed it the following month.
(It must be noted that this report on Burgos emerged during Atleti’s worst run of the season.)
Naturally, being an ever-thoughtful individual, I thought more about this query and Gabi’s possible (probable?) return to the bench as one of Simeone’s assistants. The former captain’s potential arrival as combined with the experienced and similarly-explosive Nelson Vivas could be interpreted as a carefully-planned post-Burgos succession plan. Mono’s only head coaching spell came at aforementioned Carabanchel — of which there is very little information — and he has taken over as Atlético’s coach on those annual occasions where Simeone is suspended (including a Europa League final on this day two years ago).
There will be opportunities out there for the 51-year-old if he chooses his own adventure. His resume is impressive — the longtime lead assistant and part-time manager of an elite-level club. He is widely regarded as having a huge hand in Los Rojiblancos’ successes, a testament to his strong principles and approachable nature.
Mono has matured right along with many of these players, and he’ll take the next step if that’s what he wants. He’s earned the opportunity, certainly.