The Argentine is famous for his success in Atletico Madrid but he proved himself as a mentor in Europe by helping the Sicilians Conquer the fall.
It is January 19, 2011, and the media room situated at the center of Catania’s Stadio Ciabli is filled with journalists, although the streets outside are all filled up with jubilant fans. You will find Rossazzurri scarves, banners, and flags anywhere.
This isn’t a title succeed, however, or possibly a marketing celebration. This is only Catania composed of its new trainer, Diego Pablo Simeone.
It was not a case of love at first sight; it had been love at the first statement. The Mayor’s appointment had just been confirmed the evening before but nobody had seen it coming. It instantly sent the fans of this fighting Sicilian club to raptures; their first disbelief, having immediately made way for complete adoration.
Simeone was among the very prominent midfielders of the age, winning league titles in the Spain and Italy, together with Atletico Madrid and Lazio, along with two Copa America decorations with Argentina.
He was not only a winner. He was famous for his intensity and enthusiasm. Simeone was taken aback by the heat with which he had been obtained.
Additionally, he was carrying more than negative battling relegation.
“The outcomes had not come under Giampaolo,” former Catania midfielder Ezequiel Carboni informs objective. “By the second Simeone came, he had the essential character to control a bunch that was filled with Italians and Argentines.”
Really, the new trainer was surrounded by compatriots.
The assortment of Simeone, so, made perfect sense, given that the Buenos Aires native had spent eight decades of his acting career plying his trade in Italy, together with Pisa, Inter and Lazio. He instantly combined the dressing area, even though it got a bit confusing sometimes.
“I recall Simeone’s very first day,” states Ricchiuti. “He had been talking to me. I answered,’Coach, I am Argentine as you!'”
Things did not start well on the area . They picked a stage out of a relegation struggle with Cesena in the Dino Manuzzi on February two but a 1-0 loss at Bologna four times after put off the alarm bells.
Catania was currently only a stage above 18th-placed Brescia and enjoying with no clarity or consistency. Papu Gomez’s character had to be described, Takayuki Morimoto seemed to have no idea what Simeone was requesting of him and Ledesma was unable to supply anything in midfield.
But, then came the turning point of this match, year and possibly Simeone’s training career, with replacement Francesco Lodi is converting two penalties in the last 10 minutes to make Catania an essential 3-2 win.
Catania was also helped by an enforced change of creation daily.
An accident to Ciro Capuano motivated Simeone to adopt what he called a”three-and-a-half-man defence”, together with Schelotto falling in right-back whenever Spolli, Silvestre and Christian Terlizzi were under assault. It was a system seldom seen earlier but one used by Simeone at fixed intervals throughout the rest of the 2010-11 season.
But, Simeone additionally pulled two masterstrokes on his own. Lodi had come since a trequartista (No.10) but had been converted to some register (deep-lying playmaker), whilst Papu was transferred onto the wing at a 4-3-3 formation disguised as a 4-2-3-1.
“Simeone educated me a whole lot,” Gomez says. “In Catania, he chose to allow me to play out broad, though I had been slow to return.
“I’d like to tell him that it wore me out defending, but he explained in Europe, unlike in Argentina, I’d only have been in a position to play that function.
“He was perfect.”
As a result of Simeone’s modifications, Catania became a powerful device, at least at home, in which they won half of the final seven matches. But they chose to toil on the street, which explains the reason why they fought to break with their relegation zone.
Many fans were abandoned especially pleased by an insipid performance in a 3-0 loss at Fiorentina and forced their frustrations understood through an open training session a couple of days after.
“What do you do? Shouted one mad fan, while the other even scaled the obstacles to procuring an explanation.”
“If you encourage us, we will go back to the particular pitch,” he explained. “Otherwise, you are going to need to see training from afar”
Countered the enthusiast. “You’ve got to conquer Sampdoria. Otherwise, that the protests will continue.”
“If you quit breaking our balls, then we will continue training here, and, on Sunday, we will win.
“If we do not conquer Samp, you can return to creating a spectacle next week, alright?
The irate enthusiast returned to his chair, while another fan that there stood and applauded.
Throughout the following training game, however, Giovanni Marchese was strangely targeted at a few enthusiasts, he had not been on the seat against Fiorentina, and Simeone responded by providing him the orange bib allowed for starters.
This Sunday, Marchese was contained at the first XI and flipped into a lively and decided screen that played a pivotal role in a 1-0 win over Sampdoria, attained with an excellent goal from Llama, yet another subject of their fans’ ire.
“When Catania do well, it is a crazy place,” Carboni states, “and victory generated excitement that lasted for such a very long time.
“Simeone was critical in the managing of a challenging situation and that success gave us more view and just strengthened our faith.
“Yes, even the coach made us train with exceptional intensity but what’s maybe discussed is his excellent quality along with his unbelievable ability to see his opponents.
“He gave all the homework to do and then he left us in peace: you understood that each team left had received his orders that they would not fail to take them out”
Ricchiuti adds, “Each of us was prepared to throw ourselves in the fire .”
That devotion to the cause has been really much in evidence in a stirring 4-0 demolition of neighborhood competitions Palermo, who’d conquered them 3-1 earlier in this season.
Catania’s fighting spirit was on display again if they came from two goals down at the last nine minutes of the matchday 34, Juventus to make a draw that edged them closer to security. But, confirmation of the survival just arrived the next weekend.
“We’d just won Brescia and were on the return flight to Sicily,” Carboni recalls.” Sporting manager Pietro Lo Monaco had convinced that the pilot to place the radio so we can listen to the last couple of moments of Genoa-Sampdoria.
“Mauro Boselli’s injury-time winner for Genoa supposed we were mathematically secure and I still recall now with fantastic emotion that the explosion of pleasure that continued until the conclusion of the flight.
“We’re celebrating. I hadn’t ever seen Lo Monaco so pleased. However, Simeone and his team were also euphoric.”
Shortly afterward, Simeone stated: “Lazio, Inter, Atletico Madrid and the Argentina national team would be the four groups I’d love to mentor in the long run.”
He’s, of course, because gone on to do wonders at Atletico but none of it, the Liga names, the Europa Leagues, the Champions League conducts, could have occurred had he never known himself as a trainer who could cut it in Europe by top relegation-threatened Catania into some 13th-placed finish.
The importance of conserving that side out of relegation shouldn’t be underestimated. It surely will not ever be forgotten in the Catania.
And he did not disappoint.