Another day, another Atlanta United player comes out with public critiques of Frank de Boer’s tactics. Two more players, in fact.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Ezequiel Barco were both honestly critical of their new manager’s ideas when talking to the media in Orlando ahead of this year’s MLS All-Star Game. Following in the footsteps of both Pity Martinez and Josef Martinez, this makes four different star players to make it publicly known they aren’t particularly happy with how De Boer attempted to change their style of play.
Gonzalez Pirez was clearly the more opinionated of the two with his comments:
“Things have changed a lot, the way the club has played the game and we don’t like it.”
“It seems like the idea to attack our opponents has been put to the side and we usually begin defending first, and for us, we don’t like that.”
He went on in detail about what particularly he doesn’t care for in the team’s approach this season. You can read the full quotes on MLSSoccer.com below.
While LGP was very direct in the team’s displeasure of the seemingly more defensive approach we’ve seen from De Boer, he did reveal that adjustments are being made through communicating:
“Yes, there’s communication, but sometimes things just aren’t understood,” he said. “… But we’re working, always thinking what’s best for the team and doing things the best possible.”
Meanwhile, Barco echoed the sentiments of all three of his teammates, simply saying that abandoning the attacking philosophy that worked so well has been difficult but that the team is working with De Boer to adapt:
“It’s been challenging for us because we stopped playing a way that allowed us to play more forward,” said Barco. “Frank [de Boer] came here with a plan that’s we’re trying to get used to. We’re applying it well on the field if you consider where we’re at in the standings, so we have to continue adapting and trusting what the coach asks from us.”
There’s obviously nothing ridiculously incendiary mentioned by either player here that Josef or Pity haven’t already mentioned. What’s concerning is, the volume of the criticism and how public it has been. Four different players, all of them MLS All-Stars, have come out to voice their displeasure. That’s ... not great.
Time will tell what happens with this whole situation and with this current season. At this point, it could go either way. It could be a happy ending to a tough situation if the results start falling the right way. Or it could also go the complete opposite direction. Everything is up in the air and the rehashing for this big philosophical debate on tactics isn’t not a great look for anyone heading into August already.
Hopefully the players and manager can get on the same page or at least in the vicinity of it to make a run into the playoffs.