Diego Simeone insisted he is unfazed by the prospect of turning around Atletico Madrid’s faltering season after being formally unveiled as their new coach on Tuesday.
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The former Argentina captain was named as the replacement for the sacked Gregorio Manzano on Friday, signing a contract until the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
Simeone was presented to the media at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Tuesday and immediately outlined his plans for a club he served with distinction in two spells as a player between 1994 and 2005.
"I always had it as an objective to return to Atletico as coach," Simeone told a press conference.
"I’m going to bring the work ethic and enthusiasm I have always had.
"The responsibility is enormous but it does not scare me. It excites me.
"I have always risen to challenges and this is another one."
Simeone’s first task after being confirmed as Atletico’s 11th coach in 10 years will be to arrest a run of form that has seen the club lose three of their last four matches in the league and crash out of the Copa del Rey.
His first match in charge will be against Malaga in the Primera Division on January 7, by which time he hopes to have impressed upon his players a little of the aggression he displayed during his career as an uncompromising midfield enforcer.
"I like an aggressive team. I want to see a team that is strong, committed and quick on the break," he said.
"These are things which Atletico fans have always liked, it helps them identify with and love this shirt."
The 41-year-old made over 130 league appearances for Atletico in two spells at the club, and was a key member of Atletico’s 1996 double-winning side.
Hopes are running high among the Atletico faithful that Simeone can return the club to something approaching their best days, but he insists he is not looking too far down the road at this stage.
"Atletico always demands the very best, but all I am thinking about is Malaga," he said.
"Anything else is fantasy. I live for reality."
Simeone, who also had spells at Sevilla, Inter Milan and Lazio, retired from playing in 2006 and has since embarked on a managerial career largely based in his homeland and taking in stints at Estudiantes, River Plate and San Lorenzo.
His managerial highlights include guiding Estudiantes to the 2006 Apertura title and winning the 2008 Clausura with River Plate, while earlier this year he steered Catania clear of relegation from Serie A during a short stint at the Italian side.
He was most recently at the helm of Argentinian side Racing de Avellaneda, guiding the club to the Copa Sudamericana for the first time in eight years.
The Atletico board will hope the appointment of Simeone signals an upturn in form after Manzano was removed from the post last Thursday following a poor run of results.
A 2-0 defeat at home to Real Betis left the Rojiblancos 10th in the standings heading into La Liga’s winter break, while they crashed out of the Copa del Rey at the hands of third-tier Albacete in what turned out to be Manzano’s final match.
Manzano did guide Atletico to the last 32 of the Europa League as winners of their group, and a tie against one of Simeone’s former clubs, Lazio, lies in wait when the competition resumes in February.