Welcome to my first post tracking Paulo Maldini’s first shot at management after taking over Atalanta during the 2018-2019 season. I could not have wished for a better time to take over the club however I would be under pressure to continue the work of the previous manager @totalfootball71 aka thewideplaymaker who has just got Dynamo Moscow promoted to the top tier in Russia before returning to Italy to manage Genoa. I won’t tell you anymore because he is well in to the save and I am pretty sure he will start blogging about it in the future. So on arrival in Bergamo I decided that I would try and stamp my philosophy on to the players from the off knowing that there could be a bit of a settling in period. The style of football I want to impose on the club is not a million miles off the last managers philosophy but here are the key points: Possession, I want to control the game with the ball, Strength, I like my sides to over power their opponents in every department I played with some powerful players in my career including Baresi, Desailly, Gatusso, Gullit and Weah. Flexibility I will be building a system with 3 variations to it whilst keeping true to my philosophy. Modern football can throw many situations up against you and I want us to be able to switch between formations during a game with tweaks that can be done with the minimal change to the personnel on the field. Here in Italy you come up against sides packing their half making it difficult to break down. In my system I want tweaks that offer us different options to unlock these type of defensive systems. I am going to use a base formation of 3-5-2 and will go in to more detail in a later post. My aim is to grow in to a better manager here at Atalanta and one day hope to return to Milan to take control of the club that is in my heart.
After introducing myself to the squad we were straight in to action against Torino at home and to my delight we won the game 4-0, great start. In fact we won our next 2 games as well, so with nine points from nine the Maldini era was underway. My debut in the Champions League didn’t go to plan has we got hammered in North London 1-5 at Tottenham. I probably should have had a word with uncle Bielsa before the game because he is the master of the Juego De Posicion that Poch plays. We bounced back with a win against Palermo before losing to Eusebio De Francesco’s Sassuolo side. We then went on to beat Ajax 3-0 in the Champions League to keep us on track for progression to the knockout rounds. We then beat Carpi to round off my first 2 months in management which on reflection have not gone too bad with 6 wins from 8 games however that drubbing in North London is still fresh in my memory and to make it worse we go and get thumped at Inter 1-4 which the Inter fans think is funny and I am sure the Milan owners will have noted against me for any future position that may arise in the future. We pick ourselves up and beat Roma 4-2 but then go to Amsterdam and get turned over 1-3 by Ajax who have put a bit of pressure on us for the 2nd spot in the group. A win in our next game against Ascoli was to be our last has we go on a win less streak of 4 games after two 1-1 draws against Sampdoria and Rennes before a crushing 0-4 defeat to Juventus in Turin which leap frogs the Old Lady above us in to the top spot. We then draw 0-0 in Bergamo against Tottenham that secures a place in the 1st knockout round by coming 2nd in the group. I am concerned about our hit and miss form though. After a positive team meeting we end the year with 3 wins on the bounce against Trapani, Verona and Bologna which takes us back to the top of the table after a slip up from Juventus at Sampdoria.
Results So Far
That’s my first few months in management which have gone ok but I am eager to improve on our performances in the big games we have had a bit of fortune in the Champions League Draw with no disrespect to Dynamo Kiev but we could have drawn one of the big boys of European football. We are now heading in to the transfer window which could be very interesting because I have given full responsibility to my Director of Football for both recruiting and dealing with in coming transfer bids for our players. I just want to concentrate on coaching the players and will adapt to any players Incoming or outgoing I think it will give the save a bit of variety. I have been impressed by the form of both our first choice wing back Dimarco and Conti they have played consistently well during my time here.
I think I will leave it there for now, I hope if you have read this post you have enjoyed it and hope you will return for my next post in the future. Feel free to give me some feedback or talk about FM either here or you can get in touch on twitter @fmmaldini cheers