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Stephen Glass welcomes opportunity to lead Atlanta United

Atlanta United named Stephen Glass its interim manager Monday.
Atlanta United named Stephen Glass its interim manager Monday.

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

He was named interim manager of MLS team Monday

Atlanta United interim manager Stephen Glass on Thursday welcomed President Darren Eales’ challenge for the franchise that its sights are set so high that even failure will have an echo of glory.

The quote was a version of one given by former Tottenham Hotspur manager Bill Nicholson, which Eales acknowledged, and was part of the impetus for the mutual decision between the team and Frank de Boer to part ways last week, and Glass to be asked if he wanted to take over.

“My opinion is the players will show more than they are showing and there will be a better product on the field,” Glass said.

Glass said he is under no delusions that Atlanta United’s managerial vacancy won’t be pursued by many. But he also would like it and hopes to make the decision tough for those who will decide, which includes owner Arthur Blank and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra.

Eales said that Glass is an important part of the talent pipeline from the Academy, which is where he got his start with the franchise, through Atlanta United 2 and to the senior team, and that he would return to Atlanta United 2 once a manager is hired. As he said in an exclusive interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, there is no timetable on that hire and that he feels the club is in safe hands with Glass.

A professional since he was 16 years old in Scotland, Glass said nothing in soccer surprises him when asked if a managerial change was expected.

In his first meeting with the team, Glass said he told them he has a desire to unite them again and that they need a bit of direction in how the club wants to play, which is aggressively, and he will have a different management style. The team lost each of its three games in the MLS tournament by identical 1-0 scores and hasn’t scored a goal in 395 minutes.

“It’s not tactics. It’s not formation. It’s a state of mind,” Eales said of what he wants from a manager.

Glass said his work with Atlanta United 2 shows that he understands how the club wants to play and that leading the USL team since last season paved the way for this opportunity. Atlanta United 2 went 9-17-8 last season and was 0-2-1 this season under Glass. Though the results weren’t great, Glass said the mentality of the players and the performances were positive. To be fair to Glass, he typically was working with a revolving series of players each week because of injuries, call-ups, etc.

Eales believes that Glass’ experience as a player under managers such as Bobby Robson at Newcastle United and Tony Mowbry at Hibernian gives him the experience to motivate and re-energize the players. Tony Annan, Atlanta United’s Academy Director who is now interim manager of Atlanta United 2, said that Glass will be honest and fair with the players.

Glass said he is trying to meet with each of the senior-team players individually and that he has found them to be receptive to his message.

“It’s a group of clever footballers here,” he said.

Asked how to get the best out of Designated Players Ezequiel Barco and Pity Martinez, Glass didn’t want to divulge tactics or formations, but said the players need “freedom.” The team’s next game has yet to be announced by MLS, but it is expected to be played in mid-August. Glass did mention that the conversations with players have included formations.

“The biggest thing is the staff will put the players in the best position they can to make them the best possible,” he said.