Christian Lattanzio: Charlotte FC will "impose our game" in new era

Roughly 11 months ago, Christian Lattanzio joined Charlotte FC as an assistant coach.

On Saturday afternoon, the Italy native will oversee his first match as CLTFC’s interim manager when the New York Red Bulls visit Bank of America Stadium (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes).

Life has changed rather quickly for Charlotte FC in their expansion campaign, parting ways with ex-head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez on May 31 as the international break began. Now, they’ll look to chart a positive path after a decision that sent shockwaves across Major League Soccer.

“This current squad, for me, is able to compete against everybody,” Lattanzio stated Thursday in his inaugural press conference. “Now the result is not [always] in our control but the way we go about it, the way we compete, the way we play, the way we put intensity, it’s up to us. I have full belief in the squad, 100 percent, in each and every one of them, even in the players that are on the fringe or didn’t play a lot.”

Charlotte have been solid by first-year standards, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference standings through 14 matches (5W-8L-1D). Strong home form has buoyed their outlook, even as a first road victory proves elusive.

Lattanzio isn’t thrust into a team in freefall, but there’s undoubtedly room to grow. And unifying a squad that’s still coalescing after a coaching change is no easy task. It’s why he’s also preaching patience as this new era begins.

“For the players, for as much as they want to do well, you need a little bit of time in order to see certain things changing,” Lattanzio said. “I trust and believe in them 100 percent, but maybe we have to have a little bit of time to see things settle.”

Lattanzio has worked alongside some of the game’s highest-profile names, serving under now-Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira across their time at New York City FC in MLS, Nice in France’s Ligue 1 and Manchester City’s reserve squad. He also cites close relationships with former England manager Fabio Capello and ​​now-Italy boss Roberto Mancini.

From those experiences, Lattanzio notes Charlotte needs to still develop, both individually and collectively. He feels what happens in Europe’s biggest leagues is no different than what’s required in the Queen City.

“I think even if you look at the biggest teams in Europe, those coaches with those players, they find a way of improving them,” Lattanzio said. “Everybody says they buy great players. Yes, but at the end, they become even better.

“One thing I learned, especially with Mancini and Capello, is everyone can be improved. It doesn’t [matter] how old they are, which level they play. This is a treasure of experience that they gave me and I want to pass on to the players here.”

As for tactics, Lattanzio said he prefers a ​​4-3-3 formation that combines chance creation and being solid and compact without the ball. He’s focused on applying his match philosophy, one that’s influenced by previous stops and the foundation Ramirez helped lay.

Now, it’s time for Charlotte to prove they’re ready to “go and compete against everybody everywhere,” perhaps finding a new-coach bump that’s served D.C. United and San Jose Earthquakes well earlier this year after their respective changes.

“My expectations for the team is to be competitive from the first to the last minute and to try to impose our game,” Lattanzio said. “No coach can guarantee the result, not even the biggest coaches in the biggest teams. But what we have to focus on is the performance and the process.”