It was a proud moment when, following several months of unemployment, I was asked to become the manager of Atalanta.
This is a club I had a great save – maybe my greatest ever – with in Atalanta Avventura on Football Manager 2019. But the club is not in a good way on this save. They currently lie in 9th place in Serie A with 39 points from 29 matches, some 15 points behind the 5th place that would confirm the Europa League – currently occupied by reigning champions Juventus.
There are a few players still at the club that I’m well aware of, such as full-backs Robin Gosens, Davide Calabria and Timothy Castagne and centre-back Davide Bettella. In attack, things aren’t quite as rosy – namely becuase we don’t have a recognised striker. Not sure how they managed to let that happen.
In the absence of a forward, I’m going to try and train up academy product Amad Diallo Traoré, who’s more of a natural winger. However, we have Callum Hudson-Odoi and Manor Solomon, who’s bizarrely only played once since joining from Tottenham in the summer, to occupy those roles.
In midfield, we have former Fiorentina man Gaetano Castrovilli, who is somehow worth £48.5 million, and Brazilian Evandro, who starts at FC Midtjylland. I think there’s just about the makings of a half-decent team here, although disappointingly there’s not a lot in the way of good youngsters at the club.
Straight into action
Our first game in Atalanta was away to 7th-placed Sassuolo and, well, it’s easy to see why we’re in 9th. It was one of the most tepid performances I’ve ever seen and we didn’t have a single highlight in our favour. They weren’t great and managed to win 1-0.
After that game both Evandro and Solomon came to me with concerns, the former about wanting a new contract and the other wanting more playing time. Neither were getting either based on both their performances all season and their efforts against Sassuolo. And I’m selling them both.
Then we entertained Cremonese and… well… I trialled a strikerless formation and it didn’t work. We were nearly as bad as in the previous game as we drew 0-0. I already wish I hadn’t taken the job. This is going to be a long couple of months…
Next time we’ll see if we’re able to dig a dire Atalanta side out of the hole they find themselves in.