By Ben Ralph
Atlético Ottawa has announced the decision to re-sign head coach Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez was joined by Atléti CEO Fernando López as he put pen to paper on a new deal this morning. The decision came after less than a month of deliberation.
Gonzalez told the press he was both delighted and grateful to be back with Atlético Ottawa. “The main reason is because I do not like to leave places in which I do not get the objectives set at the beginning of the season done,” the Spaniard said.
For Gonzalez, the job has been ongoing, even when his future at the club was not a certainty.
“The work started again one hour after the last game at Forge. We started over there, and we knew we didn’t have time to lose, and we are already moving in the right way.”
Gonzalez’s tutelage over the club began positively with a run to the finals in 2022 – a season that also saw him voted Coach of the Year – but was brought back down to earth in a tumultuous second season. The tailspin finish to the 2023 campaign has drawn criticism from supporters.
Complaints include the build of the team, defensive playstyle on the field, and the appearance of a lack of organization and disharmony amid the squad.
Gonzalez addressed concerns with his tactical approach in the press conference, saying he is looking forward to evolving the team and having the tools next season to play “total football.”
“I think you cannot be a team that plays in one way. You have to be good in many things,” Gonzalez said.
“It’s true we want to be a dominant team, a team that recovers the ball fast and plays in the other team's field. For that, we need the tools, we need the players, we need the mentality, and I am sure we are going to build that type of team throughout the preseason.”
With the vast majority of players out of contract at the end of the season, Gonzalez said he is already in the process of re-jigging his squad for next year.
“We cannot get crazy because of the results of last season; we need to detail-by-detail analyze each individual case, and from that, we will build the best team for next season. I think it is very important to maintain a strong spine and, from that, bring new players that improve what we have and have the qualities that we are looking for.”
The decision to reappoint Gonzalez as head coach was met by the following statement from the CCSG Official Founders:
“While it is a questionable decision, we will back the club. However, if we receive another poor start in the upcoming season, we will look to Fernando for immediate action to avoid another lost season. With two full seasons under his belt, Gonzalez must adapt to the league's challenges and infuse much-needed leadership. While he possesses the talent and the tools, only time will tell. Expectations remain high, yet the 2023 season exposed the fans’ dissatisfaction with his football style. In 2022, fans tolerated overly defensive tactics while winning, but now Atlético Ottawa, with rising attendance despite recent results, cannot afford to serve up stale and boring football.” -CCSG Founders Council
The announcement comes only twenty-four hours after a town hall in which season seat members voiced their opinions of the previous season to Fernando López and Atlético Ottawa staff.
Gonzalez, who attended the town hall to listen, said he was given a lot to think about by the outspoken group of supporters.
“I am always open to listen to the critics. I’m very self-critical. We can do things better, and I know that I, as a coach, can still develop things. But at the end of the day, we are not magicians. If you want to build the Eiffel Tower, you need iron, not wood,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, I am open to suggestions and points of improvement. But I also know we need to maintain the competitiveness of the team.”
“We are already designing a strong team and analyzing the strengths of our players to build the most competitive team so that we are able to compete against any team and hopefully bring titles to the capital city.”
Whether you agree with his return or not, there is still a lot of work to go until we kick off in 2024. Be sure to stay tuned for more offseason news!
Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are Adam Hurrey, James Richardson, and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.