Gian Piero Gasperini explained his surprising changes during the 3-2 defeat to Inter and reiterated the desire to clarify Atalanta objectives. ‘This is not the ideal situation for me.’
La Dea fell to their third consecutive Serie A defeat and continue the slide down the standings, having been in second place only a couple of weeks ago.
Ademola Lookman had given them a deserved lead with his penalty, after two good Andre Onana saves, but Edin Dzeko’s double and a Jose Luis Palomino own goal turned it around.
Even when Palomino scored in the correct net with a diving header, marking his comeback from the doping ban, it was not enough to recover in a 3-2 loss.
“I think we had a good first half, but unfortunately we conceded a goal in their only real chance, which also had a deflection to cut out Palomino on a fairly innocuous cross,” Gasperini told Sky Sport Italia.
The game seemed to change with Gasperini’s surprising half-time switch, replacing defender Giorgio Scalvini with forward Ruslan Malinovskyi.
“I took off Scalvini because I wanted to bring Koopmeiners back into the middle of the pitch. We lost Toloi in the warm-up and had to make a last-minute change, we moved to four and Scalvini adapted well as a midfielder, but I needed Koop in that role.”
Atalanta have lost four of their last five games and have already dropped 12 points from leading situations this season.
“Undoubtedly, it is something we need to work on, because we barely had time to control taking the lead when we were pegged back.
“The equaliser was unlucky this time, but then we suffered on set plays in the second half and emerged again late on, so it wasn’t a bad Atalanta performance. Unfortunately, we are up against some technically gifted sides and right now we aren’t as lucky as we were at the start of the campaign.”
Gasperini has been a mainstay for Atalanta, but is his position less solid than in the past? He already said in his press conference yesterday that there needed to be ‘clarity’ on what the project was in Bergamo, a matter he went back to in this interview.
“I don’t see doubts, maybe in the media, I know that I don’t have a good rapport with a section of the local media, but the rapport with the club and fans is fine.
“The sad thing is that we played very well against Napoli and Inter, so deserved more. We are also in a transitional phase at the moment, losing some historic players and trying to bring younger elements through.
“The job of Atalanta is to develop young players like Scalvini and Caleb Okoli. These are the questions Atalanta need to ask themselves, for what they want from the present and the future.
“There were two paths open to us, either we would increase the potential of the squad with new signings, or bring more youth through. We did what the club was in a position to do right now.
“Merih Demiral got angry coming off, but I need to work for Atalanta, I can’t compete with them every time I make a substitution. Perhaps, at the moment I am trying to cover too many bases and that is not an ideal situation for me.
“If the expectations are purely Champions League places, then I say it is very difficult. This was the only path we could not take, doing both.
“Even with that, we were in the top two for a couple of months, now people are throwing everything up in the air. The trouble is that the plan has to be shared, because if I’m the only one with this plan, then it’s a mess.”