FSG expected to shake hands with the enemy when Jurgen Klopp leaves Liverpool – Sean Bradbury
Diego Simeone looked up and hurtled down the tunnel.
After being beaten by Liverpool at home, the Atletico Madrid boss had no interest in shaking hands at Wanda Metropolitano in October.
But should the FSG send him another kind of invitation when Jurgen Klopp finally leaves the club?
At first glance, Simeone handling the Reds is a long shot.
Bookmakers certainly share this point of view.
For starters, the reality of Steven Gerrard begins to match the romance of a comeback.
Now in the Aston Villa dugout he has the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League and strengthen his record for Anfield after a success at Rangers.
Gerrard remains the favorite to take over from Klopp, current Liverpool assistant boss Pepijn Lijnders, second in the bet.
Xabi Alonso – taking promising steps in management in the Real Sociedad system – comes next.
Julian Nagelsmann is also hiding in the frame with Rafa Benitez, resident of Merseyside.
Only then do we reach Simeone with a distant 20/1 chance.
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There are a handful of obstacles that explain why.
He doesn’t speak much English. His experience with the dark arts – let’s be frank, outright shit – doesn’t entirely sound like the ‘Liverpool way’. He and the Reds should both put aside recent encounters that threatened to spill over.
It’s fair to say he’s more of an enemy than a friend at first glance.
However, things are not always what they seem to be in football.
Simeone admitted he would be open to a future stay in England.
Five summers ago he said: “I consider myself to be a young coach. So I think it is possible. A lot of championships offer great challenges. Certainly the English championship, the Italian championship are attractive to me. “
It was even suggested – in 2014 – that he was employing a private tutor for a crash course in English before a possible move to Manchester United, which never materialized.
While a full mastery of the language from the start would be beneficial, Marcelo Bielsa has shown that this is not essential and that there are ways around it.
Rafa Benitez quickly brought his English up to speed when he came to Liverpool after some initial problems.
And Kieran Trippier did very well for Simeone at Atletico.
The England international couldn’t be clearer on how efficiently the boss can communicate: “There is no better person to work with. He is so passionate. I am so excited to learn from him and to work with him. In training, when someone takes a tackle or someone makes a mistake, you see the passion – you have to be there. He’s amazing. “
Additionally, Simeone’s contract with Atleti expires in 2024.
What just happens to be the year Klopp left.
Gerrard is clearly positioning himself for a transfer to Liverpool at some point.
But he signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Villa that will take him until 2025.
Such deals are not set in stone, as his first outing from Rangers shows.
However, it’s hard to envision how just two full seasons at Villa Park could fully set him up for Liverpool by 2024.
Will his tactical plan at Villa develop enough by then to prove that he can consistently dominate matches? Will it have received the resources to demonstrate its capabilities in the transfer market? Will there be European adventures to show that he can compete beyond these shores?
Gerrard’s career is very much on the right path, but the time may be against him to succeed Klopp directly.
There is also the recruiting model in Liverpool to consider.
Specifically, the two most successful managers of the modern era of Anfield.
Benitez had broken the stranglehold of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga before his arrival, building up muscles to win two titles with Valencia.
It could also highlight a UEFA Cup triumph and good performances in the Champions League.
These included superb performances against the Reds in 2002, as Valencia dominated both group stages and advanced to the quarter-finals.
Likewise, Klopp was already a domestic series winner and had shown immense potential in Europe.
His twin titles with Dortmund remain the only break in Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga domination streak dating back to 2010.
And his men were narrowly beaten in the 2013 Champions League final, losing 2-1 to Bayern after a late winner from Wembley.
Simeone has a track record that is arguably even more impressive.
Not only did he beat Barca and Madrid twice to win La Liga, but he did so in the days of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, competing with some of the best teams the game has ever seen.
He has won the Europa League twice and came terribly close in two Champions League final defeats against Real.
Atleti have never finished outside of the top three in Spain since Simeone’s first full campaign in charge.
While there may be reservations about his style of play, he has adapted and evolved over the seasons.
He delivered good returns from strikers as varied as Antoine Griezmann, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa.
There is a capacity for counter-press as well as a defensive sense at the heart of his Atletico teams.
And he has shown he can rebuild himself and react to the setbacks of losing players, as evidenced by his most recent La Liga triumph, which came after Thomas Partey left early in the campaign plus Rodri, Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez the previous season. .
Despite all of this, it’s understandable that many Liverpool fans bristle at the thought of Simeone and the perception of what he stands for.
But at the end of Klopp’s sparkling reign, the club may need a clean break.
It will be tempting to hunt a candidate for continuity.
Lijnders may be ideal. Or an experienced behind-the-scenes team could be assembled around the emerging figure of Gerrard.
Still, there would be a great deal of pressure on someone responsible for maintaining an existing project, rather than the leeway offered by creating something new.
With the potential rise of Newcastle backed by the Saudis and the revival of other rivals, the FSG will need to refine Liverpool’s advantage.
Simeone has the tools to do it.
And while neither will admit it, maybe he and Klopp are more similar than they seem.
The stature, drive, relentlessness and collectivist spirit are evident in both, even though they are expressed in different ways.
Ask Luis Suarez.
He has thrived under Simeone for the past two campaigns.
And the ex-Red recently gave his manager an extremely important compliment, when he said: “The most important thing at Atletico is that no one here thinks he is better than any other player. Every player here trusts all the other players. And that is Cholo [Simeone’s nickname]. “
In another comparison to Klopp, Simeone takes great pride in developing talent.
Writing for a Guardian article, he said in 2019: “As a coach, the greatest passion you can have is improving players. Of course, becoming champions is something we all want, but I thinks the best ‘league’ for a manager is to see players like Koke, Lucas Hernandez, Angel Correa – guys who have come from all the way down to the lower divisions – turn into top professionals. “
The Argentine has been described as the Premier League’s “missing ingredient”.
If he was chosen to bring a new flavor to Manchester United or Newcastle it would surely raise alarm bells at Liverpool, City and Chelsea.
Getting him to Anfield is one way to stop this threat.
Atletico general manager Miguel Angel Gil recently questioned whether Simeone is going to thrive in England.
“If he was going to manager in the Premier League, it wouldn’t work,” Gil said. “It’s not just a question of language; it’s the hallmarks of his management. It’s the emotional way he operates. The demands he places on the players. You just can’t do that there. -low.”
Are these words not a little reminiscent of the man currently in the hot seat of Liverpool?
The FSG will not be in a hurry to decide on Klopp’s successor yet.
And there is still the possibility that the German will extend his stay at Anfield beyond 2024.
But when the time comes, John Henry shouldn’t rule out shocking the football world by shaking hands with the enemy.