Allegri’s lack of ego ensures Juve Scudetto stability, now for Europe?
Juventus (8/1 with Coral to capture the Champions League) have snared their fourth successive Scudetto, but the Turin team are still far from the finish line, as they chase what would be a tremendous achievement: the treble.
With the Coppa Italia and Champions League still to play for, the Old Lady could be set for unprecedented club success and a true return to Europe’s top table.
Yet few fans could have dreamed of this scenario at the start of the season, as unpopular ex-AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri was appointed, amid much uproar, to replace lauded coach Antonio Conte.
A fear that the tactician would tinker with a tremendous formula was inherent, yet Allegri failed to fall into that trap and appears to have finally turned the tide of opinion in Turin.
Juve chief exec Giuseppe Marotta spoke after his side frustrated Fiorentina with a 1-0 victory to retain the title, telling press: “It’s an important Scudetto after a traumatic change of coach.
“On the first day with Allegri and (club president Andrea) Agnelli, our car was welcomed by eggs and spitting at the Vinovo training ground. But here are the merits of our choice.”
Such a statement is hard to argue with, as Allegri has brought stability to a successful set-up, and can perhaps now even take Conte’s work a step further.
The former Rossoneri boss’ controversial switch from the favoured and fruitful 3-5-2 to a system with a more conventional four at the back and a midfield diamond caused consternation, but actually let Juve’s superstar attackers, such as Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata, off the leash.
Tinkering slightly with the side’s shape has been as far as Allegri has gone in regard to altering Conte’s legacy, although the 47-year-old has also shown a willingness to revert to what previously worked when the situation or personnel has called for it.
So, where bigger egos may have taken issue at such a less than egg-static reception, and been insistent in making their own mark at the club, Allegri deserves credit for maintaining consistency.
Speaking recently Allegri told media: “If I had arrived and immediately tried to remove all the team’s certainties, it wouldn’t have been very intelligent,”
“I waited a while and the old tactical system was very useful. With absences and in some situations we had to play that way.
“At the start of the season nobody would’ve bet on us. Many thought we’d be eliminated in the group stage. Instead we are facing the reigning Champions of Europe for a place in the Final,” added the Italian tactician.
How much personal credit Allegri deserves in steering Conte’s well-drilled outfit to the title, with largely the same playing staff, is up for much debate.
Rather than scoring points for inventiveness, the Old Lady’s new coach has been smart to stick with his already superb ingredients for success, so perhaps the plaudits should instead go to Juve’s jammy hierarchy.
Savvy, and relatively cheap, signings such as Manchester United academy graduate Paul Pogba, former AC Milan lynchpin Andrea Pirlo and excellent Arturo Vidal have ensured Juventus have stayed one step ahead in Serie A, and can compete in Europe. The board, much-maligned for snapping up Allegri, have also managed to pick to coaches perfect for the Old Lady’s needs.
Having already taken them further on the continent than Conte, Allegri’s challenge is now to prove his worth by making Juventus a real European force once more.
As doubters will remind, Allegri also had a storming start to life at the San Siro, lifting the Serie A title with AC Milan in his maiden campaign before losing control of the ship in subsequent seasons, each less successful than the last.
There can be no excuses for a repeat of the same here, however, as Allegri certainly has the infrastructure and support system to advance with the Old Lady, who are 11/5 to find a route past Real Madrid and at least reach the Champions League final.