Atletico Madrid's Copa Del Rey win over Real on Friday wasn't just about short-term glory, says Tim Stannard, but a chance to build for better things ahead...
Atletico Madrid haven't beaten their bitter rivals in almost 14 years. But Tim Stannard says that if anyone can help the Rojiblancos end that curse, it's Diego Simeone...
Michael Laudrup hardly set Spain on fire at either Getafe and Mallorca during the Handsome One's spells coaching in la Liga. Mauricio Pochettino could only keep Espanyol treading water. But perhaps both are coaching geniuses as proved by their performances in the English game, this season? Here's some ideas for other potentially sensational managerial signings to be found in Spain.
Diego Simeone - Atlético Madrid
It would be difficult to know if journalists in England would be either overjoyed or terrified at the arrival of manager who is undoubtedly the hardest son of a gun on the planet. The Rojiblanco ruler has the reputation, tattoos, icy stare and physique to suggest that a serious amount of damage could be caused to anyone with an impertinent probe over his abilities. He really won't take any s**t from some no-good hack from the Daily Express.
In the space of of just over a year, the Argentinean known for tripping over David Beckham and general mass mutilation on a football pitch, has taken a directionless, bickering group of footballers at the Vicente Calderón and turned the same players into Europa League winners, European Super Cup winners (slayers of Chelsea) and Copa del Rey semi-finalists, who are currently second in la Liga.
It's unlikely that Simeone speaks a great deal of English or indeed has a desire to live in the land of the Premier League but language may not be an issue for a coach whose main technique is to glare at players with an implicit threat of torture if a 50-50 challenge is bottled, or midfielder is not chased down and then feasted upon. Last weekend, the Atlético Madrid manager announced after a 3-0 away win at Valladolid that he was "proud of my team, a team of men."
Perfect for - Arsenal: undoubtedly talented players needing almighty boot up the backside from a terrifying touchline presence.
Philippe Montanier - Real Sociedad
Amazingly, Real Sociedad's French manager is not secure in his post for next season, simply because some fans still think that he's not quite right for the club and that he's...well...French. In Montanier's first year in charge, la Real had a comfortable time of it despite a squad of inexperienced youth teamers by finishing 12th. This year, Real Sociedad are charging towards a Champions League spot on a run of one defeat in 14 matches and are strong favourites to beat Athletic Bilbao on their own turf on Friday night.
Montanier, who has had great results with turning small teams into much bigger ones in France with Boulogne and Valenciennes, would snap at the chance to head to a club that leaves him alone to get on with a job that he does extremely well.
Perfect for - Newcastle: strong regional identity, supportive fan base, loads of Frenchmen.
Javier Aguirre - Espanyol
The topic of a recent love-fest from this column, the Mexican boss is probably quite happy rescuing Espanyol, but Aguirre is an English-speaking coach who delights in upsetting apple carts, fouling footballers mid-game, can get the best out of old pros and will do absolutely anything required to win. Unfortunately, Aguirre always has his players going above and beyond the call of duty for a season or two before falling out with everyone in and outside of the club. Seriously, he's big bags of fun.
Perfect for - Everton: should David Moyes leave then Aguirre will a be a tequila-sodden night at Las Vegas for two years before an almighty hangover.
Unai Emery - Sevilla
Although the Sevilla boss has only been in his post a month or so, nobody seems to hang around at the Sánchez Pizjuán much these days, with the club getting through a whole host of managers who have all tried and failed to steer the side out of its four-year long rut. This means that the white-board loving, touchline crouching, tactics-obsessed former Valencia boss could be lured to England with the promise of a whopping budget to be blown on scouts and holographic imaging equipment to further bamboozle already confused footballers on what their roles will be for each, individual match.
Perfect for - Aston Villa: a side of young pups who will still be too naive and wet behind the ears to complain about being constantly harassed before, during and after games. It will all end in three years, though, in bloody mutiny.
Luis García - Getafe
The manager of the Coliseum club will take absolutely any gig going at the moment. The spark behind the current Levante miracle, García was lured to Getafe with the promise of a big billionaire-backed project that may have turned out to be a scam, in the end. But for two years, Getafe have continued to hold steady in mid-table and pick up the best free-transfers available from other middling clubs in la Liga but the 40-year-old manager looks utterly bored out of his mind with the experience.
Perfect for - Swansea: should Michael Laudrup be snatched away, then Luis García would be able to pick up the reigns, no problems. Would have to get used to the experience of working in front of a home crowd though, something that rarely happens at Getafe. Might need blinkers.
Marcelo Bielsa - Athletic Bilbao
Perfect for - Chelsea: just to see John Terry's 'WTF?' face.
I n my opinion, Luis García is a very overrated coach. He didn't do anything new in Levante, and he is doing nothing with Getafe. Getafe has the potential to do better things than now... There are other coaches that deserve to be in the list, such as JIM (Levante nowadays), Djukic (Valladolid) or Paco Jémez (Rayo Vallecano).- mrtxems