Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini has revealed he uses ‘a picture of a wolf pack in the changing room’, expects his stars to ‘struggle’ in training and demands a ‘spirit and mentality’ to attack their opponents.
After another successful campaign, with the Orobici sitting fourth in Serie A and through to the quarter-finals in the Champions League, Gasperini reveals his methods in an in-depth interview with The Guardian.
“I posted a picture of a wolf pack in the changing room,” Gasperini told The Guardian. “There are wolves at the front, some in the middle and one at the back.
“The ones up front can set the pace in the beginning. The next wolves are the strongest, they’re the ones who must protect everyone if they are attacked. The ones in the centre are always protected.
“Then there are another five strong ones further back to protect an attack from there. The last one is the boss and he ensures no one is left behind. He keeps everyone united and is always prepared to run everywhere; to protect the whole group.
“The message is that a leader doesn’t just stay up front; he takes care of the team and this is what I want from my players.”
The Orobici coach has created one of the most exciting teams in Italy and Gasperini’s success has been built on an entertaining and free-flowing attacking football.
“To give you an idea I will use a Chinese proverb from 500 BC: ‘Defending makes you invincible, but if you want to win, you must attack’,” he added.
“This sums up the spirit and mentality I want my team to have. But there’s something else that is important too: the identity you create in a team must always be reinforced. You must grow and improve, day by day, because if you don’t improve, you are done. Those who stop, they have lost.”
The Atalanta coach added that he expects a lot from his group in training and expects them to ‘struggle’.
“During training, my players need to struggle; those who aren’t used to working hard scare me. But from the struggle, victories are born.
“If you don’t run in training then you don’t run during the game. Then, of course it is important to have fun in training too because from that comes the style of play and the quality.”
Players who have struggled to fit in elsewhere are thriving under the influence of the Bergamaschi’s coach and he claims the lack of resources at Atalanta means the players must work harder to achieve the same success.
“When you reach the maturity necessary to understand that hard work leads to results, you no longer feel tired,” he said. “Let’s not lose track of the fact that footballers don’t train as hard as other athletes, where the training is tough and intense.
“My players must think of that and go at it harder. We never had the means for big investments, so we had to find young players in Europe with the same philosophy: able to adapt to our style of play, winning mentality, offensive-minded and willing to work hard.
“Those who believe in that is one of us, those who are afraid leave.”
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