Frank de Boer and Atlanta United Quit On Each Other

“Quitters never win and winners never quit.”

“When the going gets tough the tough get going”

“The only failure is not trying”

Pick anyone of your favourite #MotivationMonday quotes about not giving up, Frank de Boer and Atlanta United have disregarded them all as the two sides mutually agreed to part ways. Granted, the team’s performance in the MLS Is Back tournament was a few degrees below abysmal, it was nevertheless the first taste of adversity the club has faced in its history.

Since coming into the league just three years ago, Atlanta have amassed 54 wins, 28 losses, and 20 draws. Meaning the young club has secured points from 63% of all regular season contests in their history. It’s no secret that pro sports are not designed to foster that kind of success for a club so early on in their infancy. Odds be darned, Atlanta went out and did it anyway.

In their second ever season of play, they won the MLS Cup after finishing as runners up in regular league play. That season was also Frank de Boer’s first season at the helm of the franchise. And it’s not like 2019 saw a big drop in production or anything of the sort. They finished third in the league, and even won the Open Cup. 

All of this then begs the question: why did a duo that was so successful, being de Boer and the club, quit on each other as soon as things got hard? 

Image Credit: Paul Luberti

Looking at the Dutchman’s history in coaching, this decision begins to clarify itself. His two year stint with Atlanta is actually his longest since his six years spent behind the bench at Ajax, at the start of his coaching career. That tenure came to an end after the team put in a disappointing performance, after being dominant for the first five years under de Boer. 

He went on to coach in Italy for Inter Milan, where he lasted 85 days after signing a three year contract. Despite the onboarding of big money talent, the Internazionale sat in 12th place in Serie A upon de Boer’s dismissal. 

From there, he signed another three year deal, this time with Crystal Palace of England’s Premier League. The Dutchman made it but 10 weeks into this new deal. He spent his little time with the club trying to implement a possession-based style of play, which when you look at the lineup he was trying to do this with, can be described as trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. 

With a track record like that, de Boer’s departure from Atlanta becomes far less shocking. He is very content to have his name attached to success, but when it comes to creating that success amidst adversity, de Boer seems more content to simply disappear. 

The question that now remains is where will he pop up next, and how long will it last?

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