Frank De Boer officially introduced as Atlanta United manager
Former Dutch international crosses Atlantic to lead MLS champions
"We want to become first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League"
Newly-formed club Atlanta United made headlines around world football for winning Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup in only its second ever season in December 2018. Following that success, inaugural manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino left the club on a high to return to national team management with Mexico.
Atlanta has now begun a new chapter in its young history and put faith in another manager with international pedigree: Frank de Boer.
A vastly experienced Dutch international as a player and someone with Ajax very much a part of his DNA, De Boer will put his coaching nous to the test in the burgeoning league of MLS. He is already relishing being put to the test in a new environment.
“I’m very excited to be here—it’s a fantastic club from what I saw already," said de Boer in his introductory press conference. "The philosophy of the club, the structure of the club, the core values, everything really fit with me personally. What they’ve already achieved now is incredible and they have to do something good here.
"From the start I had that feeling that I can focus on the one thing that I’m very good at: the football side. I’m very proud to be here."
Along with the challenge of retaining the league title will also be to lead the club in its first ever campaign in the CONCACAF Champions League.
"Of course, we want to go as far as possible in the Champions League," said de Boer. "We want to become the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League. It would be great for the club. It’s going to be hard because normally the Mexican teams always dominate.
“I think we have the depth in the squad. I think they already showed that last season. We are going to play a lot more games. Of course we have to prepare them mentally. It’s also a responsibility for the players themselves to prepare. Pre-season is very important for us.
"This period of five weeks for the CONCACAF Champions League games is very important for all of us, so we are really focused on that right now."
Frank De Boer factfile
Played as a defender in two FIFA World Cups™ with the Netherlands (1994, 1998)
Played over a decade for Ajax before managing from 2010-2016
Captain of the Netherlands that made the 1998 World Cup and 2000 UEFA EURO semi-finals
First manager to win four consecutive Dutch Eredivisie titles
De Boer will be bringing lessons learned through the years from football thinkers like Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola, among others, from his playing stints with the likes of Ajax and Barcelona.
“I can really focus on the football side here. The positive vibe is here and we want to use that. We have to realise it’s going to be a different year and everybody’s looking at us as we’re the champions."
The 48-year-old became the first coach to win four successive Eredivisie titles while he was at Ajax, a club known throughout world football for its consistent development of young talent - something De Boer plans on implementing at his new home.
"I will not hesitate to give a young player a debut if I think he’s up to it," said the Dutchman. "If you’re young and ready, I won’t hesitate to put you in the first team. You have to see what the perspective of that guy is, you need minutes to really know the player and he also needs that experience. I will give that to them when they are ready, that’s for sure."