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Saturday May 11 2019
Gasp, look before you leap

Gian Piero Gasperini might be tempted by a bigger club, but Giancarlo Rinaldi warns it’d never be the same as building something truly great with Atalanta.

The rhythm of the summer transfer market beat is a familiar one. Everyone who is anyone performing well at a mid-to-lower level club is linked with a move to one of the game's traditional giants. And in the Italian coaching world at the moment few are hotter properties than Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini.

His work in Bergamo - with a Coppa Italia Final spot and a potential Champions League finish - was never going to go unnoticed. That it has come with an aggressive and entertaining style has also earned him justifiable plaudits. Inevitably, it would seem, that has seen him linked with a move to a bigger job. Milan, maybe even Roma, have been mentioned as the most likely suitors.

But, let's hold the team bus right there. Rewind the clock to the summer of 2011 and the same man - carrying a cracking reputation from his work getting Genoa promoted and uber-competitive in Serie A - lands the Inter job. How, my friends with good memories, did that one turn out? In case you’ve forgotten, it was a case of: “Hello, I must be going.” He was installed and booted out about as quickly as many an Italian Prime Minister.

That should serve as a warning to both potential buyers and the man himself. What works in the provinces does not always translate to success at a top club. Ask the more veteran Calcio watchers about Corrado Orrico at Inter or Gigi Maifredi’s reign in Turin. Sometimes, no matter how much you breathe in or puff out your chest, a suit will just never fit.

It need not mean, of course, that Gasp could not be a success in more celebrated surroundings. We are nearly a decade down the line from his brutal experience at San Siro and there is little doubt he will have learned lessons from that time around. The big issue, however, is always likely to be the patience you are afforded to build a team when you move to a club with great expectations. What constitutes success is on a sliding scale according to your history, support and wage bill.

Moving to an Italian giant in particular has been a graveyard for many a promising Coach. He is longer in the tooth than most, but Gasp would be well advised to have a word with Vincenzo Montella or Eusebio Di Francesco before quitting his current post. And, in the end, why not carve out something really special at Atalanta that would be remembered forever?

That is the crux of the issue, for me anyway, for players and Coaches - especially those who have been around the block a few times. Maybe there comes a point in your career where you try to do something out of the ordinary at a smaller club rather than being yet another name to deliver trophies to one of the big boys. I struggle to imagine Gasperini ever being revered in, say, Milan or Rome as much as he currently is in Bergamo. To win a trophy there would be as rare as a warm welcome in the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia for Federico Chiesa.

For the winning-is-the-only-thing brigade, there can be no success to compare with the biggest clubs and the biggest trophies, but the rest of us can find much to savour elsewhere. Would it really be so bad to carve out a legacy with La Dea that would be remembered for generations to come? How impressive would it be to take this side to unprecedented heights and then help regenerate the squad after it inevitably loses some of its prized assets?

Gasperini is perfectly capable of moving on up and delivering the goods at a bigger club, without a doubt. But, alternatively, why not keep building something unique outside those traditional powerhouses? Unconventional, perhaps, but exciting too. Daring to do things a little differently is surely just as admirable as climbing a very well-worn ladder. Many a career has been killed off by trying to revive a sleeping giant - so why not just create a new one of your own?

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Have your say...
He should follow the lead of one of his players - Papu Gomez. It's been a pleasure to watch Atalanta do so well this season.
on the 16th May, 2019 at 8:08pm
I think he will stay. Especially if they can get into the CL, which is looking good. They own their own stadium now. The president has promised to invest in the squad n knowing Atalanta, they'll probably unearth some new jewells from their youth teams next yr. Exciting team to watch, too. Way other clubs r doing in Europe atm then Atalanta would probably give a better impression of themselves than some of the giants. Can be Queen of the provinces once more I remember when they tore apart Everton
on the 12th May, 2019 at 9:22pm
The truth is nobody knows what makes things work in football. There’s too many moveable parts. Players, managers, coaches, directors and this spherical object that bounces around the field. All of those things need to come together for success. That’s why success is so difficult. When a team finds the perfect conditions it should try and keep them together as long as possible because it’s as rare as gold. I agree Gasperini should stay put.
on the 12th May, 2019 at 2:19am
If Atalanta make the top 4, then the club should keep the whole group together for at least next season. Surely they don't need to sell when they'll be guaranteed tens of millions just for CL 6 group games.

Keep the side together, add a few players, and go all-out in the CL and try to show the terrified clubs and managers in Milan and Turin how to play without fear in Europe.

It'd be a breath of fresh air to see an Italian team attack the opposition in Europe instead of hiding in a corner
on the 11th May, 2019 at 1:00pm
Let's remember, calcio people with good memories, that Gasperini was also fired at Genoa in his first spell at the club despite doing tremendous job over there and being dubbed their Alex Ferguson. So he knows that there's also a risk of overstaying his welcome and then perhaps losing his opportunity to ever manage a big club again. Gasp is not too old, but at 61, you'd think he's waited long enough to get his second chance at a big club and there are possibly some great job openings this summer
on the 11th May, 2019 at 11:25am
Agree with your point. For me, a new team needs to step up in Italy. Perhaps that is Atlanta. The traditional giants are no longer giants and have not been for some time. If Atlanta can get CL qualification then the only thing holding them back would be the owners and investment. If Gasp has the right ideas and his team is playing a winning style of football then why should he look elsewhere?
on the 11th May, 2019 at 5:41am

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