As we have passed the 100-day mark of Atlanta United’s vacant managerial position with hardly a solid link to the job, let’s get the conversation going by taking a look under the hood at some potential candidates.
The truth is that there are several managerial options that could be a good fit to take over a team looking to get back to the top of MLS as soon as possible. And on the other side of the coin, no permanent replacement is without any potential concerns. So over the next several weeks as the season winds down and what we presume to be a LONG offseason begins, we’ll look at several options from a range of backgrounds, and we hope y’all can contribute to the discussion in the comments.
The order in which we present the options is completely arbitrary, and similarly, does not represent in any way that Atlanta is actively considering said manager or said manager would have any interest in Atlanta. We just think dissecting some of the options and allowing everyone to have their say on various candidates can be an informative exercise.
Today, we begin with a manager that will be very familiar to our readers given his track record: ex-New York City FC manager Domenec Torrent.
About Domenec Torrent
Without a fancy playing career to give his name a leg up, Torrent rose his way through the ranks the hard way, grinding it out in the lower leagues of Europe in the 90s and 00s. Then in 2007, he made arguably the best career move of his life by accepting a role as a tactical analyst on the staff of a young Pep Guardiola, who was manager of Barcelona B, the Spanish giant’s youth/reserve side. Within a year, it was Guardiola who ascended to manage the first team, and was largely responsible for Barcelona’s most dominant era in its prestigious history. Torrent became a mainstay on Pep’s staff in that same analyst role both through the Barca glory years, and then at Pep’s other stops with Bayern Munich and Manchester City before moving on to manage New York City FC in MLS.
Torrent’s background makes him an ideal candidate for an Atlanta United brand that wants to compete on the world stage. He’s a manger that speaks multiple languages, is highly adaptable in working with players from any background, and has touch points to many places in Europe that would extend the Atlanta United “network” (as it were) into new territory.
The good news here is that Torrent is not tied down on a long-term deal with his current club, Flamengo. The bad news is that he just signed with the Brazilian club this July, and his deal runs through the duration of 2021. Of course, like with players, clubs can come to financial agreements to allow for a managerial change before contracts have concluded, and it would help that it doesn’t appear, according to rumors, that MLS’s 2021 season would start until late spring — similar to the Brasileiro. But still, it’s not ideal, and honestly puts a significant amount of friction in any potential move. That said, it’s not like he has 3+ years left on a contract, in which case the mere idea of Torrent would probably be non-starter.
Availability Rating: 2/5
Torrent has made his name throughout his career, whether as an assistant with Pep Guardiola or at other clubs he’s managed since, as a tactician. And if there’s any type of manager Atlanta United needs in its current state, it’s someone with a real plan of how patterns of play should manifest on the field. Under Frank de Boer, the players never had a cohesive and consistent style of play, particularly when it came down to combinations in the final third and finding routes to goal. Torrent’s Flamengo side currently leads the Brasileiro in scoring, and his teams at New York City FC were always one of the more enjoyable teams to watch in MLS.
In fact, for as much success as Torrent has had at Flamengo during his short time in charge, it’s his spell in MLS that will be of most appeal to Atlanta United. Due to the oddities of the league — the travel, the salary cap and roster limits, the baseball fields (with which Torrent is well familiar) — his experience and willingness/happiness to take on a project with MLS’s parameters is a huge plus. The fact that he’s shown a moderate amount of success with such a project is icing on the cake.
He’d also LOVE Buckhead.
Fit Rating: 5/5
The Bottom Line
Torrent is the kind of manager for Atlanta United where you’d be ecstatic if you’re even able to sit down and have a conversation about the job with him. The chances of it happening are slim, but it seems likely that Torrent is of the ideal mold that Atlanta will be looking for: a tactically-inclined manager with experience developing raw South American players with European ambitions.