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Friday May 12 2017
Allegri the Underdog

With the first step towards a potential Treble this weekend, Edo Dalmonte argues Max Allegri has always been underestimated. 

Forced to give a straight answer, many Calcio fans would admit that they still don’t have a very positive opinion of Max Allegri.

Lurking in the back of their minds, Maxskepticism has many thinking that the former Rossoneri Coach is one mistake away from reverting to the blundering mess Silvio Berlusconi used to rail against, the Cavaliere once claiming at a political rally that Allegri “didn’t understand [expletive] all” about football.

Yet he had won the Scudetto at his first attempt, a 0-0 draw away to Roma proving enough to secure the Serie A title early. It’s a pattern he could repeat at the Stadio Olimpico this Sunday.

Yet most fans would have agreed with Berlusconi back then, the Juventus faithful booing Allegri’s arrival at Vinovo when he was hired in July 2014, the rest of the Calcio community suppressing laughter and bewilderment.

Three years later, Serie A is as Black and White as ever and the rest of the continent is learning to treat the Old Lady as a serious contender - Allegri helping his men sweep Porto, Barcelona and Monaco aside on their way to a second Champions League Final in three years.

Milan, for their part, have cycled through four Coaches and remained firmly out of Europe, Berlusconi leaking character assassinations to his compliant Press whenever the mood takes him.

Though it would be normal to ask to what extent Allegri has improved since his time at Milan, the truth is that the Tuscan was pretty good to begin with, and that Coaches are commodities in this league to be sacked, replaced and re-hired at a whim, often within a few weeks. In a league dominated by volcanic Presidents and chaotic clubs, plenty of promising minds simply never get a chance to fully express their potential.

Though many have argued that Allegri took over an Antonio Conte team in an almost subservient division, it is just as clear that, three years on, it’s very much an Allegri team, and it’s as dominant as Conte’s ever was.

Gone are the Pirlos, the Tevezes, the Vidals and the Pogbas. The BBC is older and more injury-prone, the full-backs (barring Alex Sandro) ageing, the forward lines chock-a-block with new faces needing integration. 

Yet Allegri has still built a war machine, patiently coaxing young guns like Paulo Dybala into becoming stars and helping Gonzalo Higuain adapt to a system very different from Napoli’s. His inventiveness was evident in Milan, where he turned Robinho into the disciplined, hard-running winger Mario Mandzukic has recently morphed into.

The Livorno native has even turned the tables on the tactical critics. Though he used to drive Milan fans to distraction with his oddball line-ups, it has since emerged that experimenting with the unpopular four-man defence would come in very handy indeed, the Bianconeri reaching two European Finals while Conte’s 3-5-2 blundered in the mud.

Accused of not getting on with his players at San Siro, Max had the humility to listen to the BBC after a dispiriting loss to Sassuolo in October 2015, one that left the Bianconeri stranded in 11th place in the table. Complying with the dressing room’s request for a return to 3-5-2, Allegri led his men to 25 wins out of 26, and a fifth straight Scudetto.

It’s one thing to handle a squad full of Constants and Antoninis, another to keep Miralem Pjanic, Medhi Benatia, Juan Cuadrado, Dani Alves, Sami Khedira and Mandzukic all happy, especially when most of these big names have seen extended bench time. Making an example out of Leonardo Bonucci by leaving him out against Porto looks increasingly like a great decision, though it was pilloried by many when it was initially made.

Having achieved so much on the sporting plane, it is increasingly evident that Allegri’s real weakness has nothing to do with football, but with perception. Not yet fully rehabilitated in our short, selective and narrative-obsessed minds, only a win in Cardiff will be enough to wipe Max’s slate clean, and give him the respect he’s always deserved. 

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Ever since that summer of 2006, Juve were aiming just one thing - to be back to be the powerhouse in both Italy and Europe. It obviously needed phases, it's easier looking back now. They were both great coaches greatly suited for each phase.
on the 15th May, 2017 at 5:26am
I was one of the many who absolutely hated the idea of Allegri for me none could replace Conte because Conte was a legend as a player and cemented his legendary status as a manager However the way Conte left left me with a bitter taste and it feels like his departure was too early with Europe as his unfinished business still hanging over his head so I appreciate what Conte has done for us but we have a manager now that can realistically aim to win both domestically and internationally as Allegri has won me over after the first season and honestly we are playing a more attractive football than we did under Conte
on the 14th May, 2017 at 2:13pm
At the start of the season, all my BPL-loving friends asked me how good Conte was, and what he would achieve in his maiden season. I had told them "he will win the BPL for Chelsea".

I was mocked for this, but since this morning I have been receiving messages about how smart I am.

It was not smartness, just stating the obvious - give Conte no distractions of Cup, CL, EL - just the league - and he will deliver.

Conte will have to show remarkable results in the CL to prove naysayers wrong.
on the 13th May, 2017 at 8:35am
I have to admit, when Allegri was first appointed, I was raging with anger for the entire first season, even though I knew he'd win the Scudetto (not because of him, but because this squad can smash any Serie A squad in their sleep).

In the 2015 CL final, we had bad luck (Pogba's penalty) and a Barca pretty much at its finest to contend with. But in 2017, it is, without doubt, the time that Allegri delivers the CL for us. Nothing but success will elevate him to legendary status at Juventus.
on the 13th May, 2017 at 8:25am
I thought he was good at Milan! They put in some really good performances in the CL under him despite Milan not having the players or funds of the past!
Anyone who doubts him now. Are you kidding? I saw Juve away to Monaco n the tactics, shape n the way Juve controlled the game n that 1st goal, an Italian team hasn't played that well in CL for years!
OK, so Monaco had a few chances but at times it seemed Juve had n extra man n just by his results in Europe shows Allegri knows what he's doing!
on the 13th May, 2017 at 2:51am
When Conte left for coach the Azzurri i told my AC Milan Friend "I'm praying we get Allegri" and he replied "why? he will ruin your team?" and I told him "you gave him "Zapata-Mexes-Bonera-Yepes" to work with and he still made 3rd place...imagine what he would do with this Juve squad" Guess I was right !!
on the 12th May, 2017 at 7:39pm
Allegri has done brilliantly to get Juve into two finals.Regards the league,he took over a dominant side in a league with only mildly strong competition.It still takes a lot to not only maintain a strong side you take over but also to make them stronger which he has done.Benitez took over treble winning Inter and destroyed them.


Conte needs a very good CL performance next season.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 7:06pm
As someone who didn't quite expect Allegri to be as bad as most did (albeit not as good as he has either), I give great credit to Allegri not just for the results but the manner.

He has led a change at JUVE which saw the integration of our future but whilst ensuring our present remained bright. Conte took us as far as he could and I am eternally grateful but Allegri has built and taken us further.

His last months at Milan were not his fault but rather a squad decimated by management.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 5:41pm
Allegri is a better overall coach than Conte. Allegri is more like Lippi while Conte is more Capello. Conte is a league coach he will get the result over a long season but will fail in cup competition. Allegri does his calculation in the league but put more effort into the Champions League and the domestic cups.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 3:49pm
It's funny how people now must downgrade Conte and up the Allegri. Allegri is proving me wrong for sure, and I won't mind being wrong in my opinion, but don't forget that Conte revigorated Pirlo, invent Bonucci and Barzagli. BBC was made by Conte. When you say atack was poor that's an understatement, and under Conte Juventus did play more beautiful football.
Conte is brilliant, and so it seems Allegri too, and it is to like one mroe than another or both.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 3:45pm
Are you serious? With the funds available and with Conte setting the vast majority of this team's foundation, you're giving praise to this mediocre coach? Give me a break.
Anyone can take this stacked roster deep into the champions league. The fact of the matter remains, Conte came to Juve's rescue when they couldn't dominate the league as they should.
Spare me your nonsense. can't wait to hear Juve fans after losing to Madrid in the final.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 3:44pm
Also to the people saying conte is/was better that's total bs I'm sorry. conte was in a weaker serie a imo, and all he really did was make his players play to their potential. He is not tactically astute, and he showed that in Europe where in 3 years he couldn't even come close to TWO finals and a quarter final mega close call with BAYERN. Also keep in mind contes team was better everywhere but the attack. I truly hope allegri stays with us for a long time.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:54pm
I think any person who says he isn't great is stupid or a hater. I personally was one of the very few who was happy to see him come in as I knew he was pretty good. You have to be to put up with Berlusconi and have your teams best players sold year after year, and having said that he still managed to come first, second and I think third before being fired.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:46pm
4.) Allegri was already a decent coach while at Milan. The club's continued mediocrity can ultimately be traced to complacency and poor management at the very top.

Speaking personally, I have always been sympathetic to Allegri even after he joined Juventus, and I am glad that he is now at a club where he is given the space to work his work, and is highly appreciated for it (consider Beppe Marotta's comments about him during the last week).
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:34pm
"many Calcio fans would admit that they still don’t have a very positive opinion of Max Allegri"

This is just not true, Edo. No one doubted Allegri more than we did, both last year and when he was first appointed. And he changed our minds. Who in calcio remains to be rated above him? Sarri? Spaletti? Montella? Mancini? Even if we gave Allegri minimum credit for maintaining Conte's success, that's no small feat at all, and it's much more than any other calcio tactician has done in years.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:31pm
3.) Allegri was of course sacked half way through the following season, but in an interview afterwards he admitted that after that summer he had decided he was going to leave anyway after that campaign. We might wonder how much of the poor results in that final half-season were down to the fact that he had been so unfairly treated and was already mentally packing his bags.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:29pm
2.) Yet Belusconi, being eternally ungrateful to all of his coaches since Ancelotti, was not pleased, and talk was rife of replacing Allegri with Seedorf. The Milan ultras even sent an open letter to the president backing Max with their full support. Towards the end of that season, Allegri was visibly angry after leaving a crucial meeting with the executives, and when asked if he was still the Milan coach, he gave no reply.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:26pm
1.) Regarding Allegri's fall from grace at Milan, certain things need to be kept in mind:

Conte's first victory season at Juve also saw a mass exodus of quality veterans from Milan. The club hierarchy completely failed to rebuild. Allegri was given a squad of lemons and demanded to make lemonade from them. And amazingly, he did.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 1:22pm
I thank all you guys for pointing out that thing about already respecting Allegri as a high-level Coach.

What do non-Juventinos think?

This could be me misreading the situation completely.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 10:32am
Another thing I would like to point out the difference between Conte and Allegri is the mentality instilled when approaching a stronger opposition. Conte despite a great motivator is also a highly pessimistic guy. U can tell whenever he takes on a "big team" he would go "we might lose" in any pre-match conference. Allegri on the other hand would say "we can win". Conte is a realist and doesn't go against the odds, Allegri is a dreamer but one who realize the dream.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 9:40am
Allegri has already won the heart of Juventus faithful. For a coach to bring this team into UCL Final 2x in 3 years shows he has got the depth and volume of a world class coach. I'm not saying Juventus is not well capable of being a finalist, but when u look at the amount of changes within the past 3 years, it is never easy for any coach to find a solution and to get the team back on their feet in such a short period of time. Allegri is a true masterclass for doing that.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 9:33am
I was first to admit I was deeply embarrassed for wrongly misjudged the board to assign Allegri as the new head coach because I really thought he was the problem to Milan's woes and I feel stupid now whenever I think about it. I hardly used to watch Milan games and all I heard was Allegri the culprit for Milan's collapse from the fans and Berlusconi and co. Then I started watching Milan again with Montella at helm, and I say to myself, this team is serious. Allegri was just a scapegoat.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 9:26am
Absolutely disagree... I think true football fans and experienced ones who've been watching football for long enough, would all agree that being in the final 2 times in 3 years is already sign of a great coach at the helm. Also his game reading skills and tactical flexibilities are second to no coach across Europe. I admire Conte and appreciate what he did at Juve but his side struggled to break down teams like Malmo and Galatasaray... Allegri is a completely different level.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 8:58am
It's not true anymore... he already won all Juventus fans hearts. We thing he is a genius, period.
on the 12th May, 2017 at 8:48am

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