Diego Simeone hailed Fernando Torres as a great player ahead of Atletico‘s semi final match against Chelsea and refused to be linked to the Manchester United job
Asked what he made of Mourinho’s claim that he had no strikers, Simeone hailed old boy Torres, someone he has played alongside at Atletico.
“With the greatest of respect to a manager who feels that about his players, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres are great strikers and have shown that hundreds of times, in the Champions League, in the World Cup, and in many games.
“Fernando is a lad who loves this club, his club. These are his people. He always remembers us, he always keeps us in mind, he always asks after us. I think he will play and he knows that this is a huge game for us.
He loves this Club very much, he’s always cared for what’s going on with the team. He’ll probably play and it’ll be normal that when the referee blows the whistle, the fans will not support him, but when the match is over and before it starts, he’ll have ovation he deserves. He’s a home-grown boy, a loved boy. He’ll always be from Atlético de Madrid, wherever he is”.” Simeone said.
The Atlético midfielder Koke also spoke in the highest regard for old boy Torres:
“Torres has always been someone to look up to for Atlético fans. This is the first time he will be able to play here since he left and I am sure that everyone will receive him with real affection. I wish him the best, but I hope he doesn’t have his night.”
With David Moyes getting the sack after a very disappointing campaign, Simeone is one of the managers tipped to be asked to manage Manchester United. Simeone has done a terrific job since taking over at the Spanish club, replacing Gregorio Manzano in 2011 and has earned himself a reputation as one of Europe’s best coaches. Atlético are four points clear at the top of La Liga, ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and knocked Barca out of the Champions League to set-up the semi-final clash with Chelsea. Simeone has already guided Atlético to Copa del Rey, Europa League and Uefa Super Cup glory during his three years in charge.
But the Atletico manager refused to be drawn on whether the Manchester United job would interest him.
“With all due respect, and I appreciate that it is important to you, this is a really big game tomorrow night and I don’t want to think about anything that’s not my team, my players, or Chelsea”
Simeone also spoke of the similarities between Chelsea and Atletico
“We’re not the same, but there are similarities. Chelsea have one of the meanest defences in England, and that’s our case in Spain. We work well defensively, we’re direct, good on set pieces… Those similarities are what have led us to where we are now: one fighting for the league in England and us being where we are in our league.”
The Argentine said that the tie could be a close one which could be defined by someone’s individual brilliance
“It’s a Champions semifinal and I imagine a close match, decided by the details or by individual technical quality, powered by team work”.
Simeone belives that the campaign has reached a time where words don’t account for much. He said:
“We depend on us, we know our virtues and defects. We try to strengthen the virtues and hide the defects we have as a team”
“Words account for little. Filling newspapers with headlines is good for journalists, to us, facts are important, how to prepare the fixture and get to it as best as possible. Eventually, I will speak to the players spontaneously about what I feel, that’s the best way of expressing a feeling”.
Atletico’s regular goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set to face his parent club following controversy over whether a clause exsited to prevent him playing. Simeone said the Belgian’s mindset is same as any other Atleti player
“Thibaut Courtois’ state of mind is the same as that of all his team-mates,” Simeone explained.
Chelsea are the club most likely to buy in-form striker Diego Costa, and Simeone was asked a question in this regard. He said:
“It would not surprise me at all if a club that is economically powerful, as Chelsea are, would try to sign Costa. Why? Because he is different, a very good player.”