More often than not when a team is under performing it is the coach that shoulders most of the blame. However after three consecutive defeats and only one win from their first five Serie A fixtures, Atalanta’s coach Stefano Colantuono seems to have very little to worry about in terms of job security.
There is no doubt about it Colantuono has well and truly earned the respect he has been given from everyone involved with the Bergamo club. From the players to the fans, and from the club’s senior officials to the ball boys, very few people will have a bad word to say about the 50-year-old tactician.
In 2005 Colantuono led Atalanta to the Serie B title at the first time of asking, the following season he guided the Orobici to an unexpected seventh place finish before leaving to join Palermo. In 2010 he returned to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia and once again won the Serie B title during his first season back in charge. Ever since he has successfully steered La Dea from relegation candidates and has helped stabilise the club.
Only Nerazzurri legend Emiliano Mondonico can boast a longer term at the helm at Atalanta than Colantuono, though the current boss has claimed that to surpass Mondonico’s record is one of his primary objectives.
In recent years Colantuono has earned a glowing reputation within the game and there is no secret about the fact some of the peninsula’s top clubs had tried to secure his services in recent months. Although it has now come into question that it is that very same reputation is all that is keeping him in his current job.
Previously, the Atalanta head coach had been recognised for his ability to pick his side and system to combat his opposition’s style of play. But for some reason or another it appears that this season Colantuono has adapted his usual tactical approach in favour of picking the most experienced and defensive side available to him no matter who the opposition, almost as if he has lost faith in his own and his club’s ability to progress.
Not only has his tactical outlook changed, his mental attitude is also showing signs of weakness. In recent weeks Atalanta fans have grown impatient of his pre and post match interviews where he has blamed defeats on playing against “better teams”, “bad luck” and he has also praised his side for showing promise despite losing dismally. He has even become almost a running joke with his persistent catchphrase “at the moment we are solely focusing on survival.” The club is always talking about its Serie A progression but it appears their own coach fails to see that.
The recent losses to Napoli and Fiorentina could possibly be overlooked as nothing more than gallant defeats to two of Italy’s most in form teams, but King Colantuono’s crown really slipped in many people’s eyes when he only named one recognised forward against a poor Parma team. Regardless of I Gialloblu being the home side they were certainly there for the taking. However, Colantuono chose play down his sides chances of a win before kick of when he claimed:
“We must be careful against Parma because I have saw them play a few times this season and they will not be candidates for relegation, they have a lot of quality within their side and just need to find the right balance to put together results and do very well this season.”
Mind games or not, quotes like this must have only installed confidence in the Parma players.
Looking at it on paper, it would have appear that Atalanta lined up in a 3-5-2 formation ahead of their 4-3 defeat to Parma, though when taking a closer look it was more like a 5-4-1. With both Cristian Raimondi and Cristiano Del Grosso being employed as wide midfielders despite both men being known as defence-minded wing-backs, plus, with both being the wrong side of 30, they were never really going to offer much in terms of attacking pace down the flanks.
To set a side up in the way Colantuono did against a team that, before kick off, had only scored two goals in five games is nothing more than career suicide.
No one wants to see coaches being sacked left, right and centre, after all not all of Italy is like Palermo, but should La Dea fail to win at home to Udinese next week Colantuono will surely be staring dangerously down the barrel despite all of his previous achievements.
As if next Sunday’s result isn’t important enough, Colantuono’s team selection and the way he sets his side up will speak volumes of his intent to secure a home win could be all that stands between the coach and his position within the club.
Giulio Migliaccio will be unavailable for the Zebrette’s visit to Bergamo, the 32-year-old midfielder is still struggling from a calf injury that has plagued him off and on since his arrival in the summer. Twenty-year-old Croatian international Marko Livaja will be looking to secure a place in the starting line up after he came off the bench midweek to score his first league goal of the season.