Manzano left facing Atlético axe as Simeone waits in the wings

The fact everyone had actually been gathered together to talk about a football match had been pretty much forgotten in the Atlético Madrid press room on Tuesday evening.

Instead, the pre-match conference became a feeding frenzy, with battered, beleaguered boss Gregorio Manzano on the menu. Most of the questioning centered on whether a Copa del Rey game a day later was going to be the manager’s last in charge of Atlético Madrid.

“Ask me about Albacete, not about rumours,” pleaded a weary Manzano, to no avail.

Atleti have to turn around a 2-1 first leg deficit in Wednesday evening's clash at the Vicente Calderón, but the real focus of the media’s attention was the news that former Rojiblancos midfielder Diego Simeone had resigned from his post as manager of Argentine club Racing Club de Avellaneda in expectation of taking over in the Spanish capital.

The appointment could be confirmed as soon as Monday, so say AS, who see the move as a done and dusted irrespective of what happens in Wednesday’s game.

When quizzed regarding the possibility of Simeone returning to the club he represented over 125 times during two spells, the most recent ending in 2005, Rojiblanco president Enrique Cerezo told Argentine radio he would “end up being manager” at Atlético, which to LLL sounds more like some kind of vague threat than a prediction or promise...

Another Spanish big cheese making a declaration on Tuesday was Sevilla president José María Del Nido who held a press conference a day after he was found guilty of fraud by a court and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Unsurprisingly the ever cocky and confident Del Nido revealed that he planned to stay on in charge of Sevilla despite the conviction as in his mind the legal process was far from over.

“The sentence can be appealed and while it is not firm I remain innocent of everything,” claimed Del Nido, who said he gave the concept of standing down for the good of the reputation of the club some consideration but then eventually thought better of it, what will all the big lunches, comfy seats and free match tickets. 

“I’ve been through the good and bad sides. I understand my position as president benefits the institution more than it can damage its image, although it’s true that it will seem damaged,” admitted the Sevilla president who received banners of support during Sevilla’s 2-1 cup win over San Roque, a result that sent them though the next round of the Copa, where they were joined by Real Madrid, Mallorca and Espanyol the other winners from Tuesday night’s games.