Diego “El Cholo” Simeone has singlehandedly transformed a team that was falling behind before his arrival in 2011. The season before Simeone, Atletico finished 7th in La Liga, and was eliminated from the Copa Del Rey as well as the Europa League in group stages.
Simeone’s philosophy dubbed “Cholismo” is bringing soccer back to its roots by focusing on the idea of “the team” rather than the individualism of star players.
Atletico Madrid does not have a Cristiano Ronaldo or a Lionel Messi. They have a €123 million budget in comparison to rival Real Madrid’s €515 million budget for the 2013-2014 season.
“El Cholo” isn’t going to let financial limitations stop him from winning the 2014 Lisbon final, which he has already proved by winning the 2012 Europa League and Supercup, along with being the new La Liga champions.
So what’s the secret behind the Argentinian’s success?
1 – Inspiration
In Simeone’s official biography titled, “El Efecto Simeone” (The Simeone Effect) by Santi Garcia Bustamente, the Atletico manager states that a successful manager must be able to not only motivate, but wholeheartedly convince his players that they CAN win and WILL win, even with the odds stacked against them.
In the book, Simeone looks back at his time in Argentina with Estudiantes, and refers to a specific example during the 2006 final between Boca and Estudiante.
“I told the fans, whoever doesn’t believe we can play a final with Boca shouldn’t come to the stadium.”
His more challenging obstacle came later, when he had to convince center back Alayes to hold down a faster and significantly more talented Palacio.
“I didn’t know exactly how to go about because I knew the look in his eyes was right. Palacio was way better, but there was no other option. So I took Alayes and said, ‘You’ll get him, you’ll see. Don’t even let him turn around.'”
Alayes ended up playing a fantastic match and Estudiantes became champions after a 23 year long title drought.
When Atletico Madrid reached the UEFA Supercup final in 2012 against Chelsea, the English side was the favorite, but it made no difference to the Atletico coach.
“I needed to convince them that Chelsea wasn’t invincible. If there is a 1 in 100 chance we were going to take it.”