Simeone: Easy to reach ‘breaking point’ as coach

Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone has told ESPN he “understands” Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Liverpool, and said that club management is a “continuous struggle” where a coach can reach “breaking point” if they don’t have the energy to carry on.

Klopp announced last week that he will leave Anfield at the end of the season, saying he was “running out of energy” after eight-and-a-half years with the Premier League giants.

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Simeone — who is preparing his team to visit Real Madrid in LaLiga on Sunday — has been in charge of Atlético since December 2011.

“I think Jurgen Klopp put it very well the other day,” Simeone said in an interview with ESPN’s Martin Ainstein, for the series ‘The Bicycle Diaries.’ “I understand it, obviously. It’s a continuous struggle, every day. Repeat over and over and over, then start again.

“Changing the make-up of a team, with a transition to young players from ones who have performed, but you have to let go. The years go by for me, and those who are by my side. So I understand that energy is the breaking point for it all.”

Simeone’s Atlético are third in LaLiga, 10 points behind leaders Real and level with fourth-placed Barcelona, with 22 games played.

The Argentine coach has helped Atlético compete with Madrid and Barça in his 12 years at the club, winning two league titles — in 2014 and 2021 — and reaching two Champions League finals.

When asked about the most tiring aspect of management, Simeone told ESPN: “The biggest thing is the responsibility, I think. Sometimes after matches, I don’t know if I’m happy because we won, or happy because we’re done with the responsibility that comes with winning.

“We set the bar high, and obviously expectations are set by what we accomplish. There’s no margin for error, and there’s a responsibility that comes with that. That responsibility falls mainly on me … My wife asked me: ‘When are you the happiest?’ And I was speechless, until I answered ‘When I go to sleep. Why? Because no one is talking to me.'”

However, Simeone said he wasn’t yet ready to take on a role as a national team manager, having often been linked with the Argentina job.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I like my routine. I like to compete. The other day I was talking to a colleague who was visiting and he told me about his process, having been with a national team for a long time, about training and how difficult it is.

“Working with national teams is totally different to what you’re used to in the day-to-day. I like this, helping someone improve, fighting with them, having discussions about differences of opinion, accommodating ‘misfits’ where they can best help the team … Honestly, I feel happy doing that.”

Simeone said Atlético’s Antoine Griezmann — who has scored 11 goals and provided six assists in LaLiga this season — is “one of the best” players in the world right now.

“It’s difficult to put a number to it, because there are a lot of extraordinary footballers,” Simeone said. “[Erling] Haaland, [Kylian] Mbappé … After that, I don’t know many who are better than him today.”

He also praised Girona, who have emerged as surprise LaLiga title contenders this season. They face Real Sociedad this weekend, before travelling to face league leaders Real Madrid next week.

“[Girona] have three or four matches in front of them which will reveal where they could end up,” Simeone said. “They have a smart manager [Míchel], who is doing a great job. He was already working well, and they gave him better players.

“Until now, they’ve maintained their pace. Their number of goals against has gone down. It was too high for a champion … It would be wonderful for Spanish football if after us, there was another team that could twist the arm of Barcelona and Real Madrid, who always win.”


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