Having won a fourth straight Scudetto in 2027 a major tactical switch was upon Atalanta in the summer, largely enforced due to yet more major departures.
The biggest outgoing saw Antonio Marin, our main attacking threat since the start of the save, leave the club on a free transfer to Arsenal – having refused to sign a new deal for the last year of his contract. The winger racked up 287 league appearances for the club having signed in the very first transfer window of the save, so it was difficult to see him move on.
Another major departure was stalwart centre-back Jakub Maruszewski, who moved on for a club record £91 million after a long period of being stalked by all of Europe’s top clubs. Chelsea eventually stumped up an offer that I felt was acceptable.
We also managed to get £11 million from Sassuolo for centre-midfielder Emanuele Privitali – who isn’t very good – and let a few backup players who weren’t going to make it move on.
We snapped up another ream of exciting youngsters to boost the squad, most of which went straight into the Under 20s or out on loan. One who didn’t was 21-year-old striker Mustafa Gunduz, who unfortunately picked up a damaged spine that ruled him out for 4 months on the eve of the new season.
The departures left us without a first-team quality left winger, and I struggled to pick one up in the transfer market. So instead, we switched from our trusty 4-1-2-2-1 formation to a 4-4-2 Diamond – ditching the wingers for two out and out strikers.
We once again began the season well with four straight Serie A victories, including a 1-0 win at AC Milan thanks to a 7th-minute goal from Cosimo Marco Da Graca. The striker had suffered a little in the previous season only scoring 11 league goals, but he swiftly got more than half-way to that tally with six in our first four league games.
The winning opening came to an end with a 2-2 draw at home to Inter Milan, in which two first-half goals by Brazilian striker Dimba were cancelled out by two late goals for the visitors.
But we got back to winning ways with three straight wins, including a 2-1 success at AS Roma and a 3-1 win at home to Fiorentina with Da Graca scoring twice in both.
A couple of disappointing draws at Salernitana – who were sitting pretty in third in Serie A as late as November – and Spezia came either side of a four-game winning streak. Then three more league wins, including a drab 1-0 home win over Napoli that was settled by – you guessed it – a Da Graca goal, saw us rise to the top of the league heading into the New Year.
Tough Champions Cup draw
Returning to the Champions Cup having reached the Euro Cup Final the previous season, we were given a tough draw alongside Atletico Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur and Red Star.
But we got off to a blinder with a 6-0 hammering of the group’s whipping boys Red Star, with a hat-trick from Dimba and goals from midfield superstar Timmi Uldbjerg – the club’s new vice-captain at just 21 – Alessandro Cortinovis and young attacking midfielder Thierry Damour.
In gameweek two we headed to Madrid and took a lead through a Joshua Kimmich own goal in the first minute of the second half but the hosts drew level with eight minutes to go. Next up was a trip to a strong Tottenham side, who cancelled out our opener with a brace from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic only for left-back Josha Vagnoman to ensure we went unbeaten in trips to Madrid and Spurs.
Spurs were up again next and we put in a great performance to edge them out 1-0 with a goal from young striker Mert Uysal. We then went to Red Star and, despite holding midfielder Ibrahima Ly being sent off after half an hour, worked hard for a 2-0 win through goals from strikers Da Graca and Dimba.
That sealed qualification heading into the final game at home to Atletico, which was flanked by two league games in six days so I turned out our second eleven. And remarkably the young line-up went and won 3-2! Academy graduate Paulo Vincenzi had a debut to remember as he scored twice, with a third added by Uysal. However, that result was overshadowed by Spurs’ staggering 10-1 thumping of Red Star.
The Atalanta boys headed into 2028 on the back of a 25-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, which was only ended by an Italian Cup defeat at AC Milan.
Join us next time as we look to complete a fifth straight title in our tenth season in charge in Bergamo.
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