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Five thoughts on the firing of Gabriel Heinze at Atlanta United

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Day after ruminations

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, you know that Atlanta United fired former head coach Gabriel Heinze Sunday following a terrible run of results and even worse harmony within the dressing room and club as a whole. I’ve had some time to sit and think about his tenure and absorb everything that was said yesterday from the club and its fans.

Here are some thoughts I’m having and I welcome you to share yours in the comments.

  • First things first, I was a big fan of Heinze’s signing. Any of you who follow my work here, on the Five Stripe Final podcast, or elsewhere will know he was the manager I liked the most and was hoping the club would sign before he was announced. Would I say the same given what I know now? Of course not. Heinze turned out to be a terrible personality fit that would end up making any on-field success that much more difficult. But I still think Heinze is a manager with good tactical ideas and think he can have a successful coaching career, just like he was demonstrating before this tenure. But for as happy as I was to see him sign with the team, I’m similarly pleased that the club is turning the page.
  • The club deserves at least some credit for making this move when they did. It’s a flat out embarrassing to have to fire a head coach less than 8 months after unveiling him as the savior of what was a dismal 2020 season. Even moreso considering it marks the second time the team has resorted to such a measure in basically a year’s time. But making the move now, while the team is still very much in playoff contention, gives both fans and players hope that something can be salvaged. Many will say it’s all thanks to Josef that he “took a stand for the team” against Heinze that created the rift that recently surfaced, but the
  • Holy shit I just saw this tweet
  • Where was I? Oh right. The club was a mess under Heinze and I’m convinced this move will prove to be a lift to the team and affect performances in a positive way. Sure, the team will be lead by an incredibly inexperienced coach in Rob Valentino, but at least he’s someone the players enjoy being around. Removing the “weight” of Heinze’s presence will be a lift for the players and staff.
  • The big talking point in the last 24 hours is “Why did this happen? Was it the Josef situation? Was it the 8 straight winless games?” Etc. The pretext of all of this is that there’s a smoking gun, but the truth i that when it comes to these things, everything plays a part. “If the team was winning, you can get past these issues” is something I tend to agree with, but I almost see it as a false premise considering how hard it is to win when the personal feelings are so raw.
  • I’m at the training ground and about to speak with players, which is great. So I’ll leave this here for now, but stay tuned.