When Frank de Boer parted ways with Atlanta in early 2020, many fans were left with mixed emotions. Some even felt that the decision was made too quickly and that De Boer was not given enough time to establish the system and culture he would have wanted. Other fans believed it was a decision that was bound to happen, especially after the restart.
Enter Stephen Glass. When Glass took charge of the team, there was an overall feeling of trust and excitement with what he could do with the club. Fans felt Glass could bring that passion back that was missing throughout the season. There were some doubts, but overall, fans were excited to see what Glass could do. When Atlanta United picked up a 2-0 win versus Nashville SC in Glass’s first game in charge, the excitement level continued to increase. Suddenly, fans felt this could be the turnaround to the season. So looking back, why wasn’t Atlanta United successful under Glass?
LACK OF SYSTEM
In the few games that Glass took charge of last season, it was clear that he found it difficult to find the right combination and rhythm that could bring out the best in the players. One game, he would use a three-man backline; the next, he would use 4. One game, he would load the midfield; the next, he would load the wings. Formation changes can purely be tactical, but eventually, all winning teams need to end up with the best lineup. However, when a manager continues to change the lineup and fails to see any significant results, that is no longer a tactical move.
TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES
2020 was truly an unprecedented year, not just for sports but for the entire world. With the lockdown, some players were simply rusty, while others had other factors that affected their performance.
Moreover, it is hard for a coach to find the perfect player combination and strategy in such a short amount of time. Every coach has a style of play or philosophy, and that requires certain players that can fit into that. With all of the injuries last season, it’s hard to tell how the team would have looked under Glass with players like Josef Martinez. What if he was the player that Glass thought was the missing piece to the puzzle?
There are many reasons for Atlanta United’s disappointing season, but ultimately, it lays on the shoulders of the players. Simply put, the players this season were just not playing up to par. We don’t expect the team to win every game, but at the same time, we don’t expect them to lose 2-3 games consecutively. The players looked like shells of their past selves. They couldn’t score goals, couldn’t defend, and when you can’t do these things at a high level, you’re setting yourself up for failure.