Atlanta United has the unenviable task of replacing Gerardo “Tata” Martino come the end of the 2018 season, but it’s one the MLS franchise’s leadership saw coming from a million miles away.
Following Tuesday’s announcement that Martino would leave (reportedly to take over the Mexican national team) for his next challenge this winter, United president Darren Eales revealed that ownership and front-office executives entered into their partnership with Martino knowing it was possible — likely, even — that he would only be around for two seasons. Unsurprisingly, it’s a decision Eales and Co., would happily make again and again — transcription from MLSsoccer.com:
“We always knew going into this that it was two years, obviously the hope was that we could persuade him to stay longer and that’s what we were talking over the past two months trying to come to some sort of an agreement on that, but we understand from Tata’s perspective. He wants a new challenge.”
“It was a very amicable and friendly discussion. … It’s not something that there’s any needling doubt about, or financial, it’s none of that. Genuinely, Tata was torn as to what his next move would be.”
Not only has Martino worked miracles on the field for United — sure, they spent tens of millions of dollars on attacking talent the likes of which MLS had never seen before, but it was still an expansion team and with that come various unforeseen hurdles — but he’s established the organization as (arguably) the preeminent destination within MLS, but more importantly, a worthy proving ground for young South American talent looking to raise their stock.
That goes for managers now, too.