Gian Piero Gasperini: A little patience never killed anybody
Being a product of the Juventus academy, in 1994, Gian Piero Gasperini started his coaching career by returning to where it all began, Juventus. In the first place he took the reigns of the U-14 side for two years, followed by two more years with the U-17. In 1998, he was appointed the manager of the Primavera (U-20) squad of the Bianconeri.
In 2003, Gasperini left Juventus, to coach his first senior-level team,becoming the head coach of Serie C1 club Crotone, where he guided them to promotion to Serie B after play-offs.
In 2006 he was appointed as the head coach of Genoa, and led them to promotion in Serie A in his first season. In the 2008–2009 season, Gasperini led Genoa to the fifth position in the league, obtaining an UEFA Europa League spot, and reviving careers of players like Diego Milito or Thiago Motta in a 3-4-3 formation. The football style was spectacular being praised by Mourinho to be “the coach who put him in greatest difficulty”.
In 2011, Gasperini was sacked by Internazionale after a very bad start to the campaign, a draw and four defeats in his first five games. But Internazionale has changed ten managers in six and a-half years, after Mourinho left for Real Madrid, making the decision seemingly less shocking.
And after another two spells with Palermo and again Genoa, he was appointed on 16th of June, 2016 as the manager of Atalanta.
And guess what, his first five league games with the Orobici were one win and four defeats. His job was once again under threat. Crisis discussions were held with the team’s president. But where Moratti had abandoned the manager at an almost identical moment, Antonio Percassi held firm. Instead of sacking Gasperini, he showed on his support.
As a newspaper told it at the time that president Percassi went at the training ground and ordered a meeting with the whole first-team squad telling them :“I have no doubts about Gasperini. He is our manager, the best manager possible, and untouchable. So now let’s see what you want to do about it.”
After validating Percassi’s vote of confidence last year, he believed that is the time for the youth to show their real value.
Mattia Caldara(21), Roberto Gagliardini(21), Andrea Conti(20), Andrea Petagna (20), Franck Kessie (19) have been given the trust by Gasperini to play regularly even with so little Serie A experience.
How far can this youth project go? Gasperini, calmy insisted that it’s still too soon to talk of European qualification, but now Atalanta is in 5th place, 5 points clear of 6th placed AC Milan, with five games to go.
Even if the next game is in every manager’s mind, Gasperini is thinking beyond one season, about building on these foundations to create a club capable to compete with the giants from Serie A.
“The club is serious, the structures ideal, the fans passionate, and I have already seen interesting players in the youth sector. The project is clear and focused on those players in the academy: on building really strong identification with our region. An Atalanta styled after Athletic Bilbao, maybe without reaching quite those excesses – because if there is a good kid who doesn’t speak with a Bergamese dialect I’d take him all the same …”
Both Gagliardini and Caldara already signed with Internazionale and Juventus, but the likes of Filippo Melegoni, Christian Capone , Alessandro Bastoni and Matteo Gasperoni are ready to step up.
For Gasperini, this must be very pleasing into proving how much a little faith and patience can give you.