It is better to have competed and lost than to have never competed at all — to paraphrase that quote. Atlético Madrid are now mired in their worst form since Diego Simeone took over as the manager of the club back on Dec. 23, 2011. The mattress manufacturers knocked back into their challenge for the title and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey. They also have the small matter of Jürgen Klopp’s juggernaut in the Champions League. What were isolated spells of form and fortune, have become so widespread that it’s difficult to tell when one ends and another starts. You may love someone endlessly and hopelessly and feel a debt to them which you can never repay — while knowing that something doesn’t feel appropriate. Atlético and Simeone are linked, eternally and today, but their formal partnership will end. It feels as though it’s inching closer by the match, although there was a time as it was impossible to guess when. The days when the world was taken on by Atlético and won, largely, are gone. When it felt like Atlético fought on behalf of the underdog those days have passed, because you can not be an underdog when you spend $250 million on new signings. The group’s marginal rise with a design that has been counter to a number of the prevailing trends was fascinating and magical in equal measure. Los Rojiblancos was an unapologetic throwback — and you had been charting its own progress, when you weren’t on the bandwagon. Diego Costa and Filipe Luís both departed after Atlético’s successful league title run in 2014 but one returned soon afterwards, nostalgic for his former trainer and surrounds. Costa returned too, three years then. They were never left by Atlético although both of them left. It felt like more of a household than a club — with Simeone scolding sitting at the head of the family and adventuresome his kids to be daring. It felt like we were all living within a bubble, watching history unfold like kids of a certain vintage being able to rattle off the names of Louis van Gaal’s Champions League-winning Ajax side. You can recall that Simeone staff with precision: Thibaut Courtois in target, Filipe and Juanfran raiding the wings. Diego Godín and Miranda at the middle. Gabi as the backbone, Tiago beside him. Koke and Arda on the wings together with Raúl García keeping an eye on things from the sideline because he chomped at the bit. Diego Costa and David Villa up front. You could call games were going to go and substitutions and the lineups. Atlético appeared like Muhammad Ali telling the world when he’d knock out an opponent — a 1-0 win with a goal in the second half was something that you could place the mortgage on. Simeone has always stated he hated games. A 4-3 for him did not read like an exciting game of football. He did not view seven goals, ” he saw seven errors. And El Cholo hates mistakes. Their web was dispersed by the goodwill Simeone, scooped up lovers, total credibility and admirers, begrudgers reached far and wide. He gave Atlético a brand, an identity which brought attention. Along with sporting top decision-makers and manager Andrea Berta, Simeone helped Atlético turned into a club.
However, the tide seems to be turning. And blame, rather than excuses, are being reached for first.”The daily regimen, the obligations, the requirements have abandoned Lemar robotic,” according to a source cited by El Mundo on Sunday. The identical source claimed that the 70m midfielder is residing with greater fear of making a mistake of being free and creative than he is. There is another suggestion that Berta is to blame after they were signed by him, for not looking after the players. We know Atlético are in a different country than the one Simeone inherited back in 2011 after Albacete knocked them. Wonder children can be signed by them. A “catastrophe” now means finishing third rather than second and being knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals rather than not creating it in. I discussed the potential for a new start on the summer and how, for the first time, there was outward saying that things were shifting. Perhaps it’s the revolving door that sees new players arrive every year and stalwarts of statuses leave that means the principles have to be observed. A theory I wholeheartedly month is that Simeone is tired and has drained the last moan from his players. But in any situation, nothing basic has changed. Simeone stuck to his guns when consequences started to flip and has not budged. Who knows how this ends? Whatever does happen, the club is currently cleaved to three eras — BC (earlier Cholo), AC (after Cholo), and then the big bad future.