Simeone aiming to recover Atletico’s lost glory

New Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said at his presentation

on Tuesday that he is aiming to rediscover the club’s glory days

that he helped forge as a player.

Simeone played a part in Atletico’s last Spanish league and Copa

del Rey titles won in 1996. Since then, the club’s fortunes have

varied wildly from season to season, and the team has consistently

disappointed in the Spanish league.

”The responsibility is huge, but instead of frightening me, it

motivates me,” the former Argentina midfielder said. ”When I left

as a player I set a goal of coming back as a coach. We are here to

recover a little of what we always had.”

Simeone signed a contract with Atletico until the end of the

2012-13 season after former manager Gregorio Manzano was fired last

week following his team’s elimination from the Copa at the hands of

third-tier Albacete.

The 41-year-old Simeone will lead his first training session on

Thursday to prepare for Atletico’s next game at Malaga on Jan.

7.

Atletico has struggled since the exit of South American strikers

Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan in the offseason. It currently sits

10th in the Spanish standings, just four points above the

relegation zone, approaching the season’s midway point.

”The past six months haven’t been the best,” Simeone said.

”But the club has built a squad capable of achieving its

goals.”

Simeone, however, shied away from establishing concrete

objectives for a team that had set out to finish in the top four

and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

”Atletico has always been very demanding, but I am focused on

the game at Malaga,” he said. ”We have to be realistic and not

think ahead of tomorrow.”

Simeone’s main task will be to improve Atletico’s away form.

Under Manzano, the team only took one point from seven away games

in league play.

As for the team’s style of play, Simeone said he wants Atletico

to stay true to its counterattacking character.

”I like an aggressive team. I want to see Atletico play like it

always has, with punch and speed on the break. That is how we have

historically played.”

Simeone also avoided discussing the future of forward Jose

Antonio Reyes, whose potential exit in the January transfer window

has been discussed in the Spanish media.

”We are in talks and we are open to having the best players,”

he said.

As a coach, Simeone led Estudiantes and River Plate to Argentine

league titles. This is his second job in Europe after managing

Italian side Catania for the second half of last season. He quit as

coach of Argentine club Racing Club last week before signing with

Atletico.