Remember the good old days? You know, back when we still looked fondly on defensive football and Diego Simeone was the hot rumor of the day? A lot has changed since those heady days of 2015.
For one thing, the idea of another defensive-minded coach isn’t all that appealing anymore. No doubt the arrivals of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp — and their recent successes and places in the top-four — have something to do with that, as well as the often-grim spectacle that is Manchester United these days.
For another, the relentless rumor mill that never tires of ginning-out stories about who will replace Antonio Conte (they take it for granted that he’ll be leaving) has somehow, miraculously (or perhaps quite tellingly?) not included the Atletico Madrid “mister” this time around.
Now Simeone wants to make sure it never does, as if the new three-year contract he signed in September wasn’t indication enough.
“My future? I’m staying with Atletico.
“This is a big club and we’re growing. I’m proud of the level this club have been at for the past decade, how we’ve competed against two superpowers like Madrid and Barcelona and how we’ve kept competing.”
There was a time when the intimidating Argentine was waffling about staying with Los Colchoneros. At one point, he even restructured his old contract (and buyout clause) and was supposedly all set to leave after Atleti moved into their new digs (where, incidentally, Chelsea played their best football all season). Italy beckoned Simeone back, too, and Real Madrid were looking to stir up trouble as well. But those days seem to be gone as Simeone looks to extend his 6.5-season association with the red-and-whites, which surely makes him one of the longest serving head coaches in any major European top flight.
So, if Conte does end up leaving, it looks like Chelsea will just have to settle for a head coach who plays more expansive football. Oh, well. I’m sure we’ll manage to cope.