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What does Atlanta United want in its next manager?

Atlanta United FC is searching for its third manager since its inaugural season in 2017.
Atlanta United FC is searching for its third manager since its inaugural season in 2017.

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Club President Darren Eales explains in an exclusive interview with the AJC

Atlanta United’s search for its third manager will be global, and there is no deadline, club President Darren Eales said.

Speaking exclusively to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, Eales said an important criteria for the next manager will be that he teaches an aggressive style of play. The team and previous manager Frank de Boer agree to part ways Friday.

“We are in a fortunate situation,” Eales said. “With our players, with our support, with our stadium, with our training facilities, it’s a club that’s known around the world.

“We are in situation where we are an attractive opportunity. We will take our time and find someone that can take this club forward. We want to be successful. We want to win matches but have an expectation of being on the front foot and being aggressive with playing.”

Atlanta United has won three trophies in its first three seasons: MLS Cup in 2018 and Campeones Cup and U.S. Open Cup in 2019. It holds all of the MLS attendance records because it plays in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and has an owner, Arthur Blank, who is committed financially to the club.

But it finds itself in an unfamiliar spot. It has lost a team-record four consecutive games and hasn’t scored a goal in almost 400 minutes. It hasn’t played in front of 70,000 since March and may not be able to do so again until next season because of COVID-19 precautions.

Still, the team is 2-3-0 and still above the red line in the standings for a playoff spot with games remaining. MLS hasn’t announced the schedule after its tournament, but Eales is anticipating many games.

The team Monday named Stephen Glass as its interim manager. Glass formerly managed Atlanta United 2.

“(They) will energize the squad,” Eales said of Glass and his staff. “Players understand they have to step it up as well. They will give him performances that we come to expect of Atlanta United.”

Eales said there is no deadline to make the next hire because he is confident in Glass. Eales said a consulting firm won’t be used nor will the players be consulted because he said it’s a club decision.

“We have a great squad that many, many coaches would love to have,” he said. “Now there’s a chance to work together and start delivering on that.”

Eales said that he and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra have been approached by numerous candidates. Eales declined to name any of them or confirm any speculative candidates.

In addition to aggressive tactics and without naming players, Eales acknowledged that it will be important for the next manager to put the team’s remaining healthy Designated Players (Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco) in spots to succeed. He said he thinks Glass can do that.

“This is a circumstance where we all agree as a club that we have to be better,” Eales said. “It’s the expectation of the club, expectation of the fans. We all want to be better. Players have hunger to do what they love and show passion and show performances that we have come to expect from Atlanta United.”

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