What does Atlanta United want in its next coach? Think more Tata than de Boer

Atlanta United outgoing manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino is applauded after hammering the Golden Spike during the MLS championship rally Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Atlanta United outgoing manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino is applauded after hammering the Golden Spike during the MLS championship rally Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Atlanta United’s next manager, interpreting what team president Darren Eales and team vice president Carlos Bocanegra said Monday, will be more like Gerardo Martino than Frank de Boer.

Eales, who declined to provide any names when asked, said the players won’t have any direct input on the next hire but that the club knows exactly what it wants.

“We want to play attractive football and get the results,” Eales said. “That’s what we will be looking to do.”

Bocanegra said the club hopes to make the hire by the end of the year but didn’t want to put a deadline on it. He said that the club feels like it’s headed in a good direction with the search.

The team has been looking for a manager since it and de Boer parted ways in July after three consecutive 1-0 losses in the MLS tournament in Orlando, Fla. The scorelines don’t reflect the flat-lined style of the club, which continued through Sunday’s season-ending loss at Columbus. It marked the first time in four years that the club didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

De Boer’s style, which did help win the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup in 2019, was focused on a more pragmatic approach than Martino, who led the club to the MLS Cup in 2018. Under Martino, particularly in the 2017 inaugural season, was about turning every possession into a goal-scoring opportunity.

Martino did start to adapt a slightly more defensive approach in 2018, but the club still matched its 2017 total with 70 goals scored in 34 games, an average of 2.05 per game.

Martino resigned and accepted the job coaching the Mexico national team.

He was replaced by de Boer, a legendary player at Ajax and Barcelona but whose resume was much thinner than Martino’s, who managed Newell’s Old Boys, Barcelona, and Argentina during part of his career.

Atlanta United scored 58 in 34 games (1.7 per game) in 2019 in de Boer’s first season, during which there were signs of player unrest, particularly among the players from South America. Atlanta United scored just 23 in 22 games (1.04 per game) this season under de Boer and then interim manager Stephen Glass.

Bocanegra said they hope the next manager fits the same profile as the players it has acquired: good in the locker room and good on the field.

“Atlanta United is still a very desirable place to come,” he said.

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