MADRID (Reuters) - Fledgling coach Thierry Henry admitted he could learn a lot from Atletico Madrid’s seasoned manager Diego Simeone as he marvelled at the Argentine’s boundless energy during his AS Monaco side’s 2-0 defeat to the Spaniards on Wednesday.
Goals from Koke and Antoine Griezmann clinched Atletico’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League and ensured struggling Monaco will finish bottom of Group A, ending their slim hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
But Arsenal and France great Henry, whose team have won just once and lost five of their eight games since he took up his first managerial job after a spell as assistant coach of Belgium, was most in awe of Simeone’s touchline antics.
“I have a lot to learn from Simeone. Look how he always acts. His team were winning 2-0 and he never left his players alone. He kept on shouting at them to stay focussed and run back,” Henry told a post-match news conference.
“That was why we saw Griezmann stop counterattacks on the right wing and through the middle. That intensity which he brings to the team, which he used to have as a player, is incredible.”
While Henry now can focus on trying to steer struggling Monaco, who are second-bottom of Ligue 1, to safety, Simeone is setting his sights on maintaining Atletico’s push for the La Liga title and plotting a possible path to the Champions League final, which will be held at their shiny Wanda Metropolitano stadium next June.
And after seeing Simeone and his tireless team up close, Henry believes Atletico are more than capable of winning Europe’s elite competition for the first time after losing two finals in agonising circumstances to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.
“He is so passionate about football, he seems like he is still a player. For me Simeone is a reference point for all coaches,” Henry added.
“Why couldn’t they win it? They were a second from winning it (in 2014) and they lost another final. With the team and the coach I saw today I say they certainly can. The final is at their place, too.
“Of course, you have to think about Juventus, Barcelona or Real Madrid. There are many teams that could win the Champions League, and Atletico are one of them.”
Reporting by Richard Martin,; Editing by Neville Dalton