My Atalanta save is swiftly becoming one of my favourite ever on Football Manager. We’ve not won silverware after three seasons in charge, but realistically we were never expected to and we’re performing far beyond what I – and certainly the Board – expected.
Seasons two and three have resulted in the two highest-ever finishes in Atalanta’s history and the average age keeps reducing – which speaks volumes for my policy of blooding the youth and, specifically, not signing any players over the age of 23.
With that in mind, I thought it’d be interesting to take a closer look at some of the more exciting prospects that are in the first team heading into the 2022/23 season.
The best place to start is with Croatian winger Antonio Marin who, having signed as a 17-year-old in my first summer, is now our highest-rated player both ability wise and in potential. The left-sided winger has scored 22 goals in three seasons, including 9 in both the last two seasons, and racked up 11 assists in the most recent campaign – which bodes well for his creativity improving. He’s now attracting the attention of Manchester City, and I rejected a £50 million bid – which would be a club record sale – in the summer of 2022.
We now have two very exciting young goalkeepers, two fantastic young strikers and a host of potentially world-class wingers.
My favourite is former Juventus striker Cosimo Marco Da Graca, even though Ivaylo Aleksandrov has higher potential, who already has four league goals for the club.
However, the player that my coaches are potentially the most excited about is young German winger Jochen Schulz, who we signed from Karlsruhe for £900,000 in the summer of 2020. He’s yet to do too much during first-team appearances but I will be giving him more of a chance during the next campaign.
In total, the first-team squad has 18 players with 5-star potential, consists of 12 teenagers heading into the new campaign and 20 players who are 21 or younger. Only 14 of the 25 players in the first-team squad existed when I started the game – and we’re only three years in.
The Atalanta Tactic
Having toyed with trying to play two up front in the second season, our tried and tested 4-1-4-1 continues to stand us in good stead. Initially built around a ‘Fluid Counter-Attack’ tactic, I’ve evolved it with various tweaks as the game has progressed – largely taking us from a ‘Counter’ or even ‘Defensive’ mentality in the first couple of seasons, through to now being more expansive. Although the ‘Attacking’ tactic in the shot below is fairly rare for us.
I love a former international among my ranks of backroom staff, and that’s very much the case at Atalanta. Dennis Bergkamp has been my assistant since the second season, while Hermann Hreidarsson and Dean Holden have been coaches since the first season and I’ve just promoted Ivan Cordoba and Carlos Valderrama from the youth team setup. Elsewhere, former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal is on my scouting team.
Ex-Italy full-back Fabio Grosso is in charge of our Under 20s side with Atalanta legend Gianpaolo Bellini as his assistant, while Cristian Brocchi has just taken over the Under 18s assisted by Fernando Morientes.
While the international experience among the youth team coaching staff includes Teddy Sheringham, Robinho, Pepe, Martin Demichelis and James Beattie – which would be a tasty six-a-side team.
Hopefully, that insight into youngsters, tactics and staff after three years at Atalanta was interesting, and if you’d like to know any more just drop me a message on Twitter: @_FMAddict.