Gian Piero Gasperini explained why he stayed with Atalanta, Champions League adventure and insists his 2011 sacking was “more Inter’s mistake than mine.”
The Orobici had their best ever season, finishing third in Serie A to qualify for the Champions League and reaching the Coppa Italia Final.
“It’s undeniable that achieving Champions League qualification with a provincial club is even more satisfying. We picked up one more point than Milan and finished on level terms with Inter,” Gasp told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper.
“We might not have been the strongest squad, but we were the best performers. We finished only behind Juventus and Napoli, plus we reached the Coppa Italia Final.
“I’d like to calm some of the euphoria that I can sense around us, because it’s true that there are 11 players against 11 and the economic resources don’t step on to the pitch, but we still need to earn everything out there. Our rivals have been playing in the Champions League for years.”
Gasperini had been approached by Roma and possibly even Milan after his exploits with Atalanta, while there was also interest from abroad, but he signed a new contract with the Bergamo club.
“It’s only natural that after a season like that, many opportunities will open up. My priority was to remain here and face the Champions League challenge. I think many of our players felt the same way.
“We are now challenging ourselves and not the opponents. We know there are six or seven teams with a better chance of finishing in the top four, but if Atalanta have given their all, then our consciences will be clear.”
The season so far has been a little shaky, as they fought back from 2-0 down to beat SPAL 3-2, then lost another five-goal thriller to Torino.
“Don’t ask me to field Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata together, because that’s just not feasible. Considering all the matches we are going into, we don’t have that many strikers at our disposal.”
Gasperini famously already had a step up to a big club, lasting only five games at Inter before he was fired in 2011.
“At that moment, Inter were having problems and they continued to struggle even after I was sacked. Perhaps I emerged stronger from the experience. It certainly gave me more motivation to prove people were wrong about me.
“That was more of Inter’s mistake than it was mine.”