Atlanta United have enjoyed two hugely successful years in MLS under Tata Martino. But with the coach’s future uncertain, fans must ask themselves: What’s next?
On September 27, 2016, Argentinian coaching legend “El Tata” Martino was announced as Atlanta United’s first ever head coach, and after two years, he has given the Five Stripe faithful the success the fans so eagerly wanted.
The arrival of Martino filled headlines across Major League Soccer as he had managed teams like Spanish giant FC Barcelona, the Paraguayan National Team, and the Argentinian National Team.
A coach with the resumé of Martino coming to MLS raised the eyebrows of many as, once again, Atlanta United was doing something that had never been done before.
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Even though Martino’s managing is world class, perhaps the most notable thing Tata Martino has done for the club is bring in young South American talent. The likes of Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez, and Hector “Tito” Villalba have been the bedrock of the Atlanta success story and they are all at the club largely because of Martino’s presence as coach.
Fans across South America know “El Tata” as a household name, and young players want nothing more than to play for the manager who has coached some of the best players in the world with the likes of Lionel Messi and Ángel Di Maria playing and sometimes flourishing under Martino’s direction.
However, as Martino draws to the near end of his two-year contract with Atlanta United, fans may have reason to worry about how much longer “El Tata” will stay on the Atlanta sidelines. The speculation surrounding Martino’s stay in Atlanta comes from multiple reports claiming that he is in line for numerous national team jobs such as Mexico, Argentina, and even possibly taking over for the United States as they rebuild for the 2022 World Cup.
When asked about ending his time with Atlanta, Martino and the club declined to comment, saying that the focus was solely on winning the club’s first-ever Supporters’ Shield and eventually claiming the 2018 MLS Cup.
However, Atlanta has not completely ignored the speculation as the club offered Tata Martino a contract extension which was confirmed by Martino himself after the club defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 4-3 on September 20.
The rumor of Martino’s departure has spread across the world and many other managers have thrown their hat in the circle to manage the Five Stripes, most notably former Manchester United manager David Moyes who has expressed his interest in taking over in Atlanta.
However, the loss of Martino is much greater than simply losing a club’s head coach. The Argentinian legend is perhaps the club’s most important signing due to his strong presence in South America. Although Martino has claimed that he does not usually play a role in signing players, the multiple South Americans on the squad have said that one of the biggest reasons they came to Atlanta was the chance to play under “El Tata”.
Atlanta supporters have enjoyed two years of success, both on and off the field. It is largely due to the work done by Tata Martino. But with the manager’s future uncertain, fans must ask themselves: What is next for the Five Stripes?