FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: No.19, Gian Piero Gasperini

Gian Piero Gasperini may be a name familiar for the wrong reasons, having infamously been sacked by Inter after only five matches in 2011, following a successful 2008/09 campaign in which he had led Genoa into Europe.

Atalanta embarked on a run in which they won nine games from 10, including taking the scalps of Napoli, Inter and Roma

As hard as it is to believe now, the 59-year-old could have suffered the same fate last season were it not for the patience of the Atalanta hierarchy. The Bergamo club lost four of their opening five league games to heap pressure on the newly appointed boss, but a win against Crotone sparked a remarkable revival as La Dea embarked on a run in which they won nine games from 10, including taking the scalps of Napoli, Inter and Roma.

Gasperini’s 3-4-3 formation caused problems for many of Italy’s biggest sides and Atalanta would only lose another four games all season, securing a remarkable fourth-placed berth that marked the end of a 26-year wait for a return to European football.

Youth shines through

Atalanta’s academy has long been lauded as one of Italy’s finest conveyor belts of talent and youth played a huge part in Gasperini’s success, with the likes of Mattia Caldara, Andrea Conti and Franck Kessie shining brightly throughout the campaign.

The greater challenge now lies ahead for the coach, who lost Roberto Gagliardini to Inter in January, Kessie to Milan this summer and is at the mercy of champions Juventus, who own key pair Leonardo Spinazzola and Mattia Caldara. Interest is rife for the likes of influential captain Papu Gomez and the 23-year-old Conti, who was Italy’s highest-scoring defender last season with eight goals.

Avoiding a complete overhaul will be a priority as Gasperini looks to build a squad with suitable quality in depth to compete at home and abroad in 2017/18, but the boss has already achieved legend status in the eyes of the Atalanta faithful for his debut season accomplishments.

The list

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See also...

FourFourTwo's 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.