Stefano Colantuono has admitted that preparations for Atalanta’s last match of the year were hard in light of Cristiano Doni’s arrest.
The team’s currently-suspended captain was arrested for the second time in 2011 for his alleged involvement in a betting ring that looked to illegally influence specific games in Serie B and Serie A. His arrest came just two days before Atalanta’s closing match of the year, a home tie with Cesena.
Colantuono reflected on the timing making preparations for the game harder than normal and praised his players for their focus.
“It was difficult to prepare for the match against Cesena because of the news of Doni was a bolt from the blue.
“The team, however, had already experienced this situation six months ago - we isolated ourselves to think only about the field, because the opponent, Cesena, was very formidable.”
The team dispatched Daniele Arrigoni’s side with relative ease, recording their biggest win of the season with a 4-1 result.
Moving the Orobici up to 11th place, if it wasn’t for the summer’s six-point penalty, they would now be sitting joint fifth in the table. Whilst proud of this statistic, Colantuono has revealed that he believes it could have been an even better start to the season.
“Our start was exciting, that of a great team. In addition, however, if I’m to review the games against Napoli, Fiorentina and Inter, six points were thrown away.
“Overall, though, it has been fine.”
Whilst Colantuono can attribute part of the success to continuity of team selection - 10 members of the squad have started at least 11 of the 16 League matches - he is also keen to thank the professionalism of those on the outskirts of the squad, even as they are preparing to leave next month.
“[Sporting director Pierpaolo] Marino has been clear - only those players who have found little space will be leaving in January.
“I, however, would like to congratulate the whole squad, especially those that have played less. Those guys, I can thank whole-heartedly. They are those that if I came to pick I would still find as men prepared.
“[Guido] Marilungo arrived here last year, started to play but ended up on the bench. This season his preparation has been good, even if he hasn’t been used a lot, he has always been committed. The space he has then been afforded has been earned and it is thanks to his work.”