Top Stories

Frank de Boer apologizes for “spoiled fans” comment


Frank de Boer’s start in Atlanta has been anything but peachy.

Record-wise, he’s already dug himself a hole as the defending MLS Cup champions are 0-1-1 to start the 2019 campaign, but he dug himself even deeper after Sunday’s draw against MLS newcomer FC Cincinnati, calling Atlanta United supporters “spoiled.”

“[The fans] were a little bit spoiled with the results last season,” he said in Sunday’s post-match presser. “Everybody has expectations, and that’s also normal, but everybody also saw what happened with Toronto FC when they played in the Champions League last season.”

He apologized for that comment on Tuesday, speaking ahead of Atlanta’s CONCACAF Champions League matchup against Monterrey – a matchup they currently trail 3-0 on aggregate.

“Spoiled was maybe the wrong pronouncement,” De Boer said. He explained that the word “spoiled” in Dutch has a different meaning than it does in English.

“It’s hard for them because they’re used to winning,” he explained. “We will try to get that feeling back as soon as possible.”

That winning feeling has eluded Atlanta to start 2019. The Five Stripes have won just once in their last five matches across all competitions. After apologizing, de Boer tried to get the supporters to rally, emphasizing their importance to the club.

“They are used to the victories,” he said. “Sometimes, we have a little bit setback. We can lose a game or draw the game, but it’s important for the supporters to support the team, as they always do and did against Cincinnati. To be the 12th man.”


  1. Well, even in English, depending on the context, spoiled is not necessarily insulting. I’ve referred to myself as being “spoiled” by things like good food. I find it pretty impossible to believe he decided to insult the fan base.

  2. wow, enjoying this front row seat to another short lived FdB collapse.

    fwiw, spoiled in Dutch is verwend other english words that can be translated to pampered, indulged, coddled … don’t think anything was lost in translation.

  3. Wow.

    He has lost the fan base. Somehow I think if he said they were spoiled and they were 2-0

    it wouldn’t have even one person reacting……..but whatever it isn’t my team ( which IS 2-0 and crushed Cinci ) it is Joe Dirt and others that he needs to be the fan favorite of.

    • It could be even worse than that. Judging by the body language of some of the guys on the field (particularly Josef Martinez), it isn’t just the fans who aren’t buying in….

  4. Atlanta is not coming back this year. Tata handpicked the players to build the team to his very
    particular specs. There is nothing of that left now. The team is going to have to be rebuild completely. Get used to it.

    • There is plenty left. Pretty much every player but Alimiron and Garza. We just need to swap the coaching back to someone from the Martino/Bielsa coaching tree.

  5. Full disclosure I’m an ATL fan.

    So, what we the fans are so upset about is that this tranistion was sold to us as an ‘evolution’ not a ‘revolution. What I mean is that nothing was wrong with the way things were working last year and our tragetory and play was fantastic. Yes losing Almiron while inevitable also hurt and so did losing Garza we could have adapted differently. The new style of play is dramatically different than how we played last year and FdB doesn’t really have the personel particularly at WB to make his system work. He’s also asking Pity and Barco to play too wide relative to what they naturally like to do which is drifting centrally and behind the forward therefore no real width from wingbacks or wide midfielders.His system’s not working because we spent millions on players who fit a different system and he’s trying to pound square pegs into round hole all over the field. It was never supposed to be this much of a change as we were told but he’s been very stubborn with his formation and tactics to the point of starting Ambrose whose a LB at RWB due to injury instead of just moving to a 4 man back line and using someone else at RB.

    Bottom line we didn’t need and we were told there would be this much CHANGE to our system and play. Its been such a drastic change the players are sick of it and you can see them frustrated on the field. Why fix something that wasn’t broken. Continuity would have been the way to go.

    I suggest ripping the band aid off now. Fire FdB, and ask Martino to give us a list of 5 candidites who know his and Bielsa’s style and tactics who he thinks is ready for the job. At this point I’m even willing to go with a former Martino assistant that watch another match under FdB. And yes, I’m sure his system could work given enough time and the right players to implement it but we already have expensive quality players and making that transition is expense and waste what we already spent for something that never needed changing.

    • Interesting insights Joe Dirt — very solid post. Certainly agree that de Boer looks badly miscast in this job. Seems that “Big name coach with Barca credentials” was the rubric, with no further attention to detail. Curious how you think Pity (once he settles) best fits in? Is he capable of replicating (at least to some extent) the role that Almiron played? He looks wasted deployed so wide, as you say…. and thus far Atlanta looks utterly lost in their ability to push through centrally at pace, where they had been so dangerous previously. Seems like “evolution” is hard to do without real talent in the middle. Also, how do you see Villalba fitting in? And sShould Carleton be seeing an opportunity here?

      • Good questions not sure if I have all the answers put I’ll give my 2 cents.

        We haven’t really seen enough of Pity yet to know everything about him but so far he is very different player tactically than Alimiron and this was said by our front office from the beginning so we knew he was not a like for like and no one who knew the game was really expecting Pity to be an Almiron type player ie lots of pressing and lighting quick counters.

        My opinion is Pity fits well either on the left in a 4231 or front 2 slightly withdrawn in a 352. He could also play more central as CAM too but he is not one to carry the ball 30-40 yards with pace after being passed the ball by a DM off a turnover. Bottom line its unclear and his transition hasn’t been a good one so far.

        I believe Barco is being groomed for the more central AM spot but doesn’t have the passing abilities Alimoron did. In a way Pity and Barco are very similiar players in where they like to play and where they like to move on the field and this along with Nagbe also occupying similar space in MF is causing big issues. Those three need to find their space and spot and learn to play off each other. The manager needs to figure this out big time and thats what he’s paid to do.

        As far as talent in MF we have it in spades but I think our tactics are putting our guys into a straight jacket of a formation they don’t like. The 4231 high press would fit everyone better with Barco and Pity rotating and switching between the left wing and CAM with Villaba or Gressel on the Right wing. Or in a 352 use Pity up front slightly withdrawn next to Josef and have Barco at CAM in front of Nagbe and Remedi, and Barco and Pity could switch those roles too to throw off the defense once in a while in game. Barco’s much better pressing so he’s need more centrally and in MF than Pity.

        Villaba has a canon of a right foot from top of the box area he can be money and has shown that with some goals of the week the past couple years. He’s been used primarily on the right wing though and a decent enough crosser of the ball and laying off balls and linking with Josef in that spot that I really like him but there is a contigent in the ATL fan base including myself that really want to see Villaba’s right foot unleashed by using him as an inverted winger on the left wing where he can cut in and smash it.

        We have so much talent there are a lot of combination that could work and it doesn’t need to be the same thing every game either. They’re playing too rigid right now and aren’t allowed the freedom of movement that SA players like. Its like a German(even though he’s Dutch) took over and told them all to be good soldiers and stay in their lane.

        There were some fans who where very vocal when the hire was announce that this would be a disaster, I was not one of them. Those fans referenced his stints at Inter and Palace and that fans at those clubs blamed his bad performance on his stubbornness and rigidity to his system at all cost even if it didn’t fit the players he had available. Its looking like a copy cat repeat of those situations so far.

      • +1. Good stuff. Appreciate the thoughtful and well-organized response. Will be interesting to see where things go from here. Sounds like you think de Boer is not likely to figure any of this out (me neither). Will be interesting to see how (and how fast) Atlanta’s front office responds if this is indeed their first really public mistake.

    • Stubborn and foolish certainly came to my mind while I watched the last 15 minutes of the game tonight with Monterrey. Despite being down 2 goals on aggregate, Atlanta continued to play from the back and meticulously move down the field with controlled passes. They kept trying to find spaces in the Monterrey packed in defense. While urgency was called for, they were more intent in playing the “right ” way. I guess the thought was that, yes, they would lose, but gosh darn it, they were going to do it by looking good while playing proper football.

  6. Atlanta looks terrible right now. It’s a bit shocking…and I’m unsure what exactly the new coach is doing.

    There’s no coherent midfield strategy right now. Everything used to run through Almiron but Pity Martinez is clearly not that guy…he’s not (nearly) as fast, and they’re playing him out left anyhow, and putting Barco on the right side. Nobody really seems to be doing – or being allowed to do – the 10 role. Martinez is isolated up front and nobody’s finding him, and on top of which I keep seeing a whole bunch of front-to-back defensive busts where you see a lot of guys all looking at each other, not sure who’s doing what.

    Early returns do not look good. De Boer might yet turn this around but right now I’m leaning towards he’ll be gone by midseason.

    • Nailed it on MF. In his 343 he’s been using either Larentowicz and Remedi(both DMs) or Nagbe and Remedi(one 8 and one 6). As we all know from his time with the NT Nagbe while great holding and possessing the ball is not the greatest forward passer at find the right thru ball to the forward line. The Larentowicz/Remedi pairing lacks any kind of creativity. Nagbe and Rememdi isn’t much better but can hold possession longer but neither can do anything with it. Remedi being pretty high soccer IQ imo realized the need for more playmaking and passing to the forwards and has been making deeper runs into the top of the box area which is not where he’s best but he’s trying to fill the gap that FdB is putting us into with his rigid formation.

      The other dramatic tactical problem is with Pity and Barco in the front 3. Neither player naturally likes to stay high and wide and both naturally tend to move inside towards the top of the box. This ruins our width and spacing and overall tactics. I don’t blame the players they weren’t bought and spent millions on to fit into this system. They were bought to fit into a 4231 or 352 formation that plays high press and make quick transition from defense to offense on the counter.

      FdB needs to recognize his players tendencies and abilities and fit it to them. He didn’t come into a rebuild situation where we needed to blow the team up and bring in ‘his’ players for ‘his’ system.

  7. Well, this is certainly a sign of a coach in trouble. He inherited a championship team and had to replace one star with the South American Play of the Year, so the team should be of equal quality. So, after a bad result, blaming the fans for their expectations is not a very smart thing to do and indicates a coach who doesn’t really know what he’s doing..

    • Come on Rob—Now I gotta check you on your mistaken “pronouncement”:

      You know damn well that the word “bitches” has a different meaning in Dutch than it does in English!

      (Wink, wink)


Leave a Comment