Madrid: Atletico Madrid fired Gregorio Manzano on Thursday following their embarrassing exit from the Copa del Rey a day earlier and offered the job to former Argentina midfielder Diego Simeone.
Atletico lost 1-0 to third-tier Albacete at their Vicente Calderon stadium on Wednesday to exit the domestic cup competition 3-1 on aggregate. That proved to be the final straw for the club's executive board, which reached a unanimous decision to finally end Manzano's second spell at the club following weeks of speculation over his future.
"Atletico Madrid would like to thank Gregorio Manzano for all of his work and wish him the best for the future," the club said in a statement on Thursday. "The team will now focus on signing a coach to lead the first team."
Manzano's position had been under scrutiny with Atletico struggling in the league, where they sit 10th and only four points above the relegation zone.
Club president Enrique Cerezo had already offered the post to former Atletico player Simeone soon after the announcement.
"We sent (Simeone) an offer and he's delighted to come here, but we still need to negotiate," said Cerezo, who added that the position had not been offered to any other coaches. "Between today and tomorrow we'll know his answer. We're backing (Simeone) because he's everything we and the people want in this moment."
Simeone resigned from Argentine club Racing Club earlier this week, heaping further pressure on Manzano, who was expected to be fired regardless of Wednesday's cup result.
"We think it's a good option, especially due to the excitement and affection he holds, and he wants to come here," Cerezo said of Simeone, who was in the last Atletico squad to win the league in 1996.
While Atletico qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League, Manzano's squad underachieved despite spending nearly 60 million Euros on internationals such as Radamel Falcao and Ardan Turan in the off-season. The club has been unable to adapt following the exits of strikers Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan, who helped steer Atletico to Europa League and European Super Cup victories in 2010.
Simeone was part of Manzano's playing squad during his first spell at Atletico in 2003-04. The 55-year-old Jaen native went on to coach at Mallorca and Sevilla before returning to Atletico to replace Quique Sanchez Flores. But he lasted less than six months the second time around and is the 14th coach to leave the club since 2000.
Simeone, who coached Estudiantes and River Plate to league titles, would take charge of Atletico for the first time at Malaga on January 8.