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Atalanta’s Gian Piero Gasperini: ‘Avid gamers who don’t seem to be used to running arduous scare me’ | Soccer

Gian Piero Gasperini is getting animated. Atalanta’s supervisor is speaking about how he motivates gamers. He describes how he regularly places up messages within the converting room and some of the contemporary, he says, was once from Michael Jordan: “Twenty-six instances, I’ve been relied on with the overall shot and I neglected. I’ve failed over and over and over in my existence. And because of this I prevail.”

Gasperini pauses and says: “However the most productive one is in regards to the wolf pack.” The wolf pack? “I posted an image of a wolf pack within the converting room. There are wolves on the entrance, some within the heart and one on the again. Those up entrance can set the tempo at first. The following wolves are the most powerful, they’re those who will have to offer protection to everybody if they’re attacked. Those within the centre are at all times safe.

“Then there are any other 5 sturdy ones additional again to give protection to an assault from there. The closing one is the boss and he guarantees no person is left at the back of. He assists in keeping everybody united and is at all times ready to run in every single place; to give protection to the entire staff. The message is {that a} chief doesn’t simply keep up entrance; he’s taking care of the staff and that is what I need from my gamers.”

It’s an atypical message to ship a bunch of highly-paid pros however it’s running. What Gasperini needs from his gamers, he will get. Ahead of coronavirus struck, Atalanta have been having the most productive season of their 113-year-old historical past. They’re considered one of 4 groups thru to the Champions League quarter-finals – with Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Atlético Madrid – and heading in the right direction to qualify for subsequent season’s festival.

Then there are the targets. They’ve scored probably the most in Italy for the reason that get started of closing season. This marketing campaign there were 70 in 25 league video games. 3 times they have got scored seven – in opposition to Udinese, Torino and Lecce. Two of the ones video games have been away. Milan and Parma have been overwhelmed 5-0.

Atalanta’s forward Luis Muriel scores his side’s final goal in their 7-0 win at Torino in January.



Atalanta’s ahead Luis Muriel ratings his aspect’s ultimate function of their 7-Zero win at Torino in January. {Photograph}: Alessandro Di Marco/EPA-EFE

Atalanta are, merely put, some of the entertaining groups on the earth. How has Gasperini executed it? “To come up with an concept I can use a Chinese language proverb from 500 BC [from the Art of War]: ‘Protecting makes you invincible, however if you wish to win, you will have to assault.’ This sums up the spirit and mentality I need my staff to have. However there’s one thing else this is vital too: the identification you create in a staff will have to at all times be bolstered. You will have to develop and enhance, day-to-day, as a result of if you don’t enhance, you’re executed. Those that prevent, they have got misplaced.”

Gasperini is relentless in his calls for, now not not like Jürgen Klopp. Coaching is cruel and a few gamers have now not loved it. Christian Vieri as soon as stated that Gasperini “will spoil you in coaching” however Atalanta’s supervisor says: “All the way through coaching, my gamers wish to battle; those that aren’t used to running arduous scare me. However from the battle, victories are born. In case you don’t run in coaching then you definately don’t run right through the sport. Then, after all you will need to have amusing in coaching too as a result of from that comes the way of play and the standard.”

Gasperini has created a exceptional staff from an atypical set of gamers. The captain is the exceptional Papu Gómez, a 32-year-old Argentinian who joined from Metalist Kharkiv for £4m in 2014. Every other key ahead, Josip Ilicic, may be 32 and arrived from Fiorentina for £5m in 2017.

The previous Aston Villa goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini, former Middlesbrough midfielder Marten de Roon and Mario Pasalic, a Croat who belongs to Chelsea however has discovered a house in Bergamo on his 5th mortgage clear of the London membership since becoming a member of in 2014, are different key parts. Robin Gosens arrived from Eredivisie aspect Heracles for lower than £1m, but is considered one of Europe’s maximum sought-after left-backs now whilst Bergamo-born Mattia Caldara is again at Atalanta after spells at Juventus and Milan and has been exceptional at centre-back.

Atalanta’s head coach Gian Piero Gasperini supervises a training session before his side’s Champions League game against Manchester City in November 2019.



Gian Piero Gasperini supervises coaching ahead of his aspect’s Champions League sport in opposition to Manchester Town. {Photograph}: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Pictures

Those gamers are in the most productive type of their lives, however why? “There’s a secret,” the 62-year-old Gasperini says. “Whilst you succeed in the adulthood important to remember that arduous paintings results in effects, you not really feel drained. Let’s now not lose monitor of the truth that footballers don’t educate as arduous as different athletes, the place the learning is hard and intense. My gamers will have to recall to mind that and move at it more difficult. We by no means had the method for large investments, so we needed to to find younger gamers in Europe with the similar philosophy: in a position to conform to our taste of play, successful mentality, offensive-minded and prepared to paintings arduous. Those that imagine in this is considered one of us, those that are afraid depart.”

Gómez as soon as stated Gasperini trains gamers so arduous {that a} fit appears like a time without work. “With Papu we’re speaking about an atypical participant who had now not accomplished his possible as a result of he by no means educated neatly,” Gasperini says. “When he began coaching higher he raised his stage to develop into one of the crucial highest in Europe. He wasted time as a result of coaching makes you right into a champion: he at all times had the whole thing to develop into one.

“Ilicic is any other one. We used to name him ‘Josip the Grandma’ as a result of he was once simply going round being great to everybody. We needed to persuade him to extend his efforts at coaching. He was once lacking that psychological step however as soon as he modified his mindset we stopped calling him grandma, now we name him ‘The Professor’. He realised that each coaching consultation is amusing and from that call he was once reborn. 5 targets within the Champions League this season is an excellent effort.”

Atalanta’s Josip Ilicic fires home Atalanta’s second goal in their 4-1 win over Valencia in their Champions League round of 16, first leg match.



Atalanta’s Josip Ilicic fires house Atalanta’s 2nd function of their 4-1 win over Valencia of their Champions League spherical of 16, first leg fit. {Photograph}: Agenzia Fotografica Are living Media Srls/Alamy

Existence has now not at all times been simple for Gasperini. After a tight taking part in occupation, which began at Juventus’ early life groups and incorporated 59 Serie A appearances for Pescara, he joined Juve’s training setup, having a look after their under-14s, under-17s and the Primavera squads (under-20s). A hit spells at Genoa earned him the nickname “Gasperson” with a nod to Sir Alex Ferguson as a result of the staff’s taste.

On the other hand, in 2011, when given his probability at a large membership, Inter, it went horribly mistaken. He lasted lower than 3 months, having did not win a sport, sacked after a demoralising defeat by way of promoted Novara. As destiny would have it despite the fact that, his dismissal ended in considered one of his favorite moments in soccer.

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“I had simply been sacked at Inter as a result of I didn’t have the similar imaginative and prescient because the control. Then I won a ravishing message: Pep Guardiola sought after to satisfy me and he invited me to look at his coaching classes at Barcelona. It was once an excessively tricky second in my occupation and to peer how an atypical supervisor like Guardiola stayed just about me at the moment, it tells you the kind of particular person he’s. He made me more than happy.”

Even at Atalanta, Gasperini first of all had issues. Firstly of the 2016-17 season the newly appointed supervisor misplaced 4 of his first 5 league video games. There was once once more communicate of the sack when he threw warning to the wind and gave a number of younger gamers a possibility in opposition to Napoli, one of the crucial highest groups on the time. Atalanta gained 1-Zero and feature now not seemed again.

Roberto Mancini (right) hands the 2019 Serie A coach of the year award to Gian Piero Gasperini.



Roberto Mancini (proper) arms the 2019 Serie A trainer of the 12 months award to Gian Piero Gasperini. {Photograph}: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Pictures

“I made up our minds to move down this trail,” he says. “I’ll make it till the top with my concepts; I’m able to chance the whole thing as a result of I imagine in it. We began Mattia Caldara, Roberto Gagliardini, Andrea Petagna and Andrea Conti and different younger gamers with only some Serie A video games between them. We gained with an improbable efficiency that no person forgets about since that was once the start of the expansion. The start for the ancient Atalanta manner.

“I had the theory to play kids immediately. In Italy, Bergamo is regarded as an important position for paintings, business and productiveness. I sought after to have a venture tied to younger gamers, ideally raised within the Atalanta academy, which is phenomenal. For too lengthy the spine of the staff was once too previous so I attempted to keep away from relegation with a unique manner: to have complete self belief within the younger gamers, broaden them and prioritise high quality soccer.”

Tactically, Gasperini hardly ever deviates from 3-5-2/3-4-3, even if there may be much more positional rotation now. His high-pressing sport is atypical for the Italian league. He needs gamers to search for house and has even informed them that looking at the referee can assist: “Discovering house is prime for a participant so I informed them: ‘Take a look at the referee, he’s by no means being marked, he’s at all times in a perfect place to peer the sport!’ Papu, specifically, has taken in this recommendation and it has in point of fact helped him.”

His spouse, Cristina, has stated that he from time to time wakes within the evening and grabs his computer systems and begins writing notes. “Sure,” he says and laughs. “With my pc at evening or with my blackboard I’m at all times learning for answers for the following sport and best after I imagine they’ll paintings will we begin coaching.”

In Italy, Gasperini has at all times been observed as the person with the 3 centre-backs. It has virtually outlined him. He has been criticised by way of some for sticking by way of ways related to catenaccio. “I’m pleased with this, as a result of I instructed the three-man defence a few years in the past when I used to be training in Juventus’ early life device. Again then I used to be informed it was once too defensive. I proved it was once the other: the 3 defenders take part within the run of play, they’re educated to be concerned offensively.

“The formation doesn’t subject, however reasonably with what number of gamers do you assault or protect. If I needed to sum up my defensive philosophy in a single word it will be that I don’t imagine and I can by no means imagine in the concept that of looking ahead to your opponent to make a screw up: I feel you will have to attempt to thieve the ball to assault.”

Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola (right) embraces his Atalanta counterpart Gian Piero Gasperini before their Champions League game in October 2019.



Manchester Town’s Pep Guardiola (proper) embraces his Atalanta counterpart Gian Piero Gasperini ahead of their Champions League sport in October 2019. {Photograph}: Dave Thompson/AP

Atalanta completed fourth in 2016-17, 7th the next marketing campaign and 3rd closing season to qualify for the Champions League staff level. They began by way of shedding 4-Zero at Dinamo Zagreb, 2-1 at house to Shakhtar Donetsk and 5-1 at Manchester Town however reached the closing 16 by way of drawing in opposition to Manchester Town and successful their two closing video games. “I at all times inform my gamers: we by no means lose, we both win or be informed,” Gasperini says.

Guardiola has stated taking part in in opposition to Gasperini’s Atalanta is like “going to the dentist”. The Italian approves: “This is my purpose: create a staff that might make any opponent battle. Those that play in opposition to us will have to run so much and be afflicted. I feel the dentist metaphor, it’s easiest.”

Valencia have been vanquished 8-Four on mixture within the Champions League closing 16. After which the whole thing stopped. Gasperini recalls returning to Bergamo from the second one leg in Spain. “It felt like we have been in a rustic torn aside by way of battle. The entirety came about so temporarily: only a few days ahead of there was once no feeling of what may occur. I have in mind once we arrived in Valencia, we discovered a town stuffed with other folks celebrating within the streets or outdoor the stadium, whilst in Bergamo there have been the primary indications the placement was once crucial. After we got here again to Bergamo we realised how a lot had modified in simply two days. We went from euphoria to worry within the span of 48 hours.”

Gasperini is suffering to search out the phrases to explain the previous two months in Bergamo. “This has been one thing atypical, unexplainable with phrases. Bergamo has been on the centre of this terrible coronavirus. It hit our town deeply and led to such a lot of deaths … I’ll by no means overlook the sirens we heard within the centre of Bergamo for the remainder of my existence.”

An ambulance arrives at Bergamo’s Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital during the coronavirus crisis in March 2020.



An ambulance arrives at Bergamo’s Humanitas Gavazzeni health facility right through the coronavirus disaster in March 2020. {Photograph}: Filippo Venezia/EPA

When fits resume Gasperini is aware of what he’ll inform his staff. “I can put the emotional facet proper, entrance and centre. Those gamers have a perfect bond with Bergamo: the town and the lovers. I can communicate emotionally and my sentiment will probably be this: Bergamo suffered so much, that is our second to lead them to smile once more.”


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