Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino has admitted in the past that he is superstitious.
That’s why he asked me to move to my typical chair for the post-game interviews following last week’s 7-0 win against New England.
What made the video funny wasn’t just his belief in superstitions.
Because Martino, a native of Argentina, is still learning to speak English, he used a series of hand gestures and facial expressions to encourage me to move across the room.
This wasn’t new.
For post-practice interviews, Martino likes it when Justin, the team’s translator for Martino and the other Spanish-speaking players, stands on a certain side. That side will change should the team lose. Martino typically likes it when I stand on his left. That happened naturally. It’s where I started standing way back during the team’s training camp in Bradenton, Fla.
Martino said he doesn’t have any other superstitions or preferences and realizes these things don’t affect the outcomes of games.
“They make me feel better,” he said.
Atlanta United is in fifth in the Eastern Conference, has just one loss in its past 11 games, and will host the L.A. Galaxy on Wednesday
After games, he likes for me to sit to his right. Here’s why:
The post-game stuff works like this: We interview the players in the locker room first. After we’ve spoken with a few, Martino’s interview will start in a separate room.
English questions are asked first. Then the Spanish journalists will ask their questions. I typically leave after the English questions.
When the team played at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, the exit for post-game interviews was on my left. I would sit on that side of the room to make my quick getaway to get back to the pressbox and start writing the 5 observations, Man of the Match, Player Ratings, By the Numbers and record a podcast. Martino became accustomed to seeing me on that side of the room.
At Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the exit is on my right, so I was going to sit there to be close to the exit so as not to disrupt the Spanish-speaking journalists when I and others left.
As I started asking my question after the New England game, which was if that was the best game his team has played, Martino pointed to the chair he is used to seeing me sit in. He then pointed again.
I asked if he wanted me to move to the other side of the room.
He raised his eyebrows and shook his head yes.
“Alright,” I said, and started moving while narrating what was going on for the Facebook Live audience watching the interview.
“Thank you, Doug” he said.
“You’re more than welcome,” I said, and then continued with my question.
The team posted the scene on twitter on Monday. ESPNFC wrote about it later in the day. I posted the ESPNFC on my facebook timeline and twitter (@DougRobersonAJC) feed.
As of 9:30 a.m., it has been favorited 88 times on my twitter timeline and 594 times on @ATLUTD.
On my facebook timeline, it has received more than 100 reactions and 26 comments.
Martino is a pretty easy guy to work with. He is thoughtful, can be really funny, and tries to give reporters as much as he can without giving away too much. He doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, and is genuinely having fun coaching in Atlanta and MLS. I know because I asked him that last week after a training session at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
So, as long as it doesn’t interfere with me making deadline, I’ll probably move again should he ask.