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Saturday March 9 2019
Allegri's Juventus has no identity

Juventus keep notching up records, yet Max Allegri is lambasted for failing to make the most of their talent. Elio Salerno analyses the Bianconeri's problems.

Massimiliano Allegri’s car was pelted with eggs when he arrived to replace club legend Antonio Conte in July 2014. Fast forward five years and he proved the doubters wrong with multiple records, trophies, individual accolades and two Champions League Final appearances. Yet a quick scan of social media would have you believe he is a flop who brought shame upon the Old Lady and should’ve been sacked some time ago.

The Bianconeri faithful have become increasingly despondent with what they deem as negative tactics and boring football. Now some will – rightly – point out that The Old Lady have never been an overly expansive side, but the defensive solidity that was once championed and celebrated has also begun to desert them. Relying on a strength that has weakened and seemingly refusing to embrace the obvious talent at your disposal is a recipe for disaster.

The last 18 months have seen a fundamental change in his thinking. One of the attributes that initially saw Allegri admired was his ability to find solutions. The Coach’s flexibility, the team’s adaptive nature and a multi-layered approach was a driving force behind their success. It is the reason they were able claim impressive victories over the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Monaco in recent years, whilst maintaining their vice-like grip of Serie A.

Always methodical, implementing changes took time and usually coincided with the calendar ticking over into the New Year. Retaining the formula from the previous season aided stability early on, the focus was on collecting wins and providing a platform for the business end of the campaign. This was highlighted in Allegri’s tactical switches during those periods.

It began with a move away from the famed 3-5-2 to a 4-3-1-2, only to see the former return before Allegri surprised everyone with a switch to a four-pronged attack in the shape of a 4-2-3-1. That formation was superseded by the current 4-3-3 and despite looking unbalanced at times, it has been maintained.

The former Milan and Sassuolo boss was somewhat forced into finding these solutions due to the way the Italian Champions operated on the transfer market. An abundance of brilliance has left during his tenure. The likes of Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Alvaro Morata and Dani Alves all moved on at important moments, leaving gaps in the squad, but Allegri made up for those shortfalls as he re-addressed the balance to find the best answer. The way the Serie A Coach of the year dealt with significant player turnover, but maintained a competitive team, is undeniably a great achievement.

So why has that pro-active version of Allegri become a distant memory? Partly, it is because Juve’s dynamic has changed. There’s no need for those short-term fixes, the quality of the players available grew and that was supposed to be reflected on the pitch. However, that never transpired and in its place a reliance on the individual was born, players that produce moments of magic to save the day and snatch victory.

When Allegri was required to create an ideology and define a way of playing, he failed to do so. Look back over the last 18 months and you can count on one hand the occasions where Juventus played as a cohesive unit. You can find many more examples where they played poorly, but were saved by Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Miralem Pjanic or more recently, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Is it fair to say that Allegri performs better when his options are limited? Look back over his first couple of seasons in charge, there was a clear disparity between the starting XI and players on the bench, options that included players such as Angelo Ogbonna, Simone Padoin, Roberto Pereyra, Mario Lemina and Stefano Sturaro. This results in working with a smaller core of players to maximise their potential as a group, so limitations existed, but the set-up was understood and boundaries pushed. In comparison, Allegri now boasts several options to choose from that provide near unlimited variety.

This is not to say that, in its current form, the Juventus squad is complete. Leonardo Bonucci is a shadow of his former self and the hierarchy’s failure to address the imbalance in midfield has certainly hampered the 51-year-old Coach.

The central midfield options are one-dimensional and the lack of a box-to-box technician capable of influencing play in the final third creates a dysfunction. That complication can be no excuse and Allegri appears fazed by the challenge of fusing Ronaldo, Pjanic, Joao Cancelo and co into the world’s best outfit.

Rather than address the faults, Allegri has used winning as way to cover them up. It has become a case of finding a way to win each game, use the appropriate tactic to win the battle in front you when belief in a single approach would overcome most opponents. Of course, there are multiple ways of playing, but when you look at football’s heavyweights, you can identify the philosophy imposed by their manager.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are an obvious example, but there are others such as Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool or Ernesto Valverde’s reinvented Barcelona. Can anyone identify what the Juventus way of playing actually is?

The question remains, are Allegri’s tactics negative? Pragmatic certainly, but is it more a case of the Coach finding himself in an unfamiliar climate? One that he has not been previously exposed to, leading to a safety-first approach?

There has been tinkering during the last few months, but the players Allegri relies on – Sami Khedira for example - have remained, when this group needed to be unleashed. This set of players have vast potential and Allegri is the man that holds the key to unlocking it, but does he have the bravery to make the next step? Currently, it’s simply a no.

In football, judging the moment to make changes is priceless and if timed correctly, the possibilities are endless. At this current juncture, it seems that this time around, Allegri has missed the chance to make those required changes.

When Juventus and Allegri eventually call time on their agreement, he will leave as one of the most decorated Coaches in La Vecchia Signora’s rich history. Despite those that seem intent on tarnishing his time in Turin, that can never be taken away from him. If it is to be goodbye this time round, Max Allegri deserves a send-off befitting of the success he brought to the club.

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Have your say...
I stupidly read this article and began to believe it a couple of days ago! What a fool!
Allegri Juve has an amazing identity... one of tactical flexibility, one of grinta.. a chameleon like ability to do whatever it needs to do. Yes rarely SuperMax TM gets it all wrong but invariably he gets it right on the night (AM RM(luck killed us not Max)Barca Tottenham)
on the 13th March, 2019 at 6:44pm
This article did not age very well.
on the 13th March, 2019 at 4:55pm
Blah Blah Blah Blah... Mustafa, actually you're the real clown here! along with pathetic haters like Ade and all whiners who think Juve can't qualify to next round.
on the 13th March, 2019 at 12:52am
This set of players have vast potential and Allegri is the man that holds the key to unlocking it, but does he have the bravery to make the next step? Currently, it’s simply a no. That is the key words in the article, that is why he take so much dislikes in Juventus fans, because we have so much firepower, but instead he hold us back. Like we are strong bull but he cut the balls off.
on the 12th March, 2019 at 10:51am
Yes! What exactly does he get paid for - just to randomly select a team of 8 (apart from Ronaldo, Chiellini and Bonucci start)? Even Cristiano told him to stop shouting at him the other week. Juve is bad for Italian football - even the excuse that they might win the CL looks shaky.
on the 11th March, 2019 at 9:41am
Perhaps so, Mustafa. We will never know. Your disdain for Allegri is well documented, so I understand you are looking forward to seeing the back of him. I felt compelled earlier to point out that when he was on Milan's bench, the rossoneri's woes were not chiefly his fault.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 8:07pm
not even a juve fan, but i am amazed nobody has noticed how critical the injury to cuadrado is to your team.
Cuadrado is the glue of your team.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 7:02pm
@ St Ambrose Careful what they wish for? Allegri has brought nothing but shame. If Spalletti took over after Conte, he'd would've won the same Scudetti.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 2:47pm
@ Ade
Oh, I did not intend it to seem like I was slating the ability of Benitez or Lopetegui necessarily. Benitez for instance has been lauded during his spells elsewhere. It appears there are many factors that influence whether or not a manager does well or poorly at a club.

My overall point is merely that Allegri is an able coach (though some serious and valid criticisms of him have emerged this season), and that Juventus fans should be careful what they wish for in wanting a change of coach.
on the 10th March, 2019 at 9:07am
Off topic here, but because milan are winning they are cheating now also lol this nonsense really needs to stop.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 11:58pm
Allegri needs to fix our midfield. Too many slow musclemen without vision and technique. They play awful football when being ahead.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:12pm
Allegri is a reactionary coach, playing to the level of his competition in Serie A instead of forging a style and dictating games. So you hope to achieve what in the CL with this garbage? Instead of trying to field your best players and formation, so you can actually build something and leave the burden of winning on the players, the coach himself wants to be the hero every game by "tweaking a little". The team is full of talented players yet we only talk of Allegri all the time?
on the 9th March, 2019 at 4:38pm
Allegri makes no adjustments and creates no synergy among any sets of players.
Pjanic is poor playmaking passer. Hard to recall two times he made offense better. Cries over free kicks lost to CR7.

Vs. Athleti 80% passes backward.

Dabalya turned into a beginner. Coaching? None. He benched him.

Reliance on awful turnover duo Sandro -Matuidi. Ever since the injury to Cuadrado, this team changed for the worse. It moved toward Allegri, away from CR7-Mandzukic and Dybala. Scoring an afterthought.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 4:24pm
Finally it's nice to see people seeing what I've been seeing and saying for years. I think the term Clown got famous now.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 4:20pm
Juventus, the state within the state, has killed the agonising serie A, and Italian football at large for as long as the entire Italian system is not completely refounded.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 2:22pm
Identity is quickly regained when Juve and Calcio taps into its roots and start fielding more Italian youth. Say someone like Moise Kean. Wait on..well what ya know!
on the 9th March, 2019 at 1:32pm
i also believe that the arrival of Cristiano influenced negatively on the team's spirit. what we are achieving this season is even less than last year without CR7. last year we were first in serie A (just like now) but we were in the running in Coppa Italia (now we are eliminated) and we will also go out in Champions League against Atletico i am sure 90%. so? what did CR7 bring to us ? Not much.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 1:14pm
@ St Ambrose
It's true that a half competent manager does not guarantee a winning squad winning still this juve team is Miles ahead of the rest QUALITATIVELY n QUANTITATIVELY! infact if the first eleven and Bench were to be a different team, they will be miles ahead of Napoli, Roma, Milan n Inter, battling it out! That's a fact....as per inter been a world beater and the subsequent decline in Rafeal Benitez era, the signs were all written on the wall, its was an ageing team of LUCIO, SAMUEL, ZANETTI, MAICON, STANKOVIC, CAMBIASSO, ETO, SNEIJDER n MILITOexcluding BALLOTELLI....assemble with a short term goal.....do you expect Benitez to perform miracle? How could you motivate a REAL MADRID team that has won a CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 3times in a row? YET you call for lopetugai head! Which team should be more motivated Juventus or Realmadrid? It's clear Allegri is a local champion! Simple as Abcd
on the 9th March, 2019 at 12:11pm
Yep having a Ronaldo in a team doesn't change anything? The team is practically playing for him, Pjanic doesn't take free kicks, Dybala doesn't have a place... the team lost its identity with the arrival of CR7. Allegri is criticized to harshly, just like EDF is.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 11:19am
Managers get too much praise/criticism when things are going well/badly,and the players often hide behind them - especially modern, weak-willed players.

But Allegiri's time seems to be up. His negative mindset in big games just won't cut it in the CL

Away to AM, he did it yet again, De Sciglio in for Cancelo, which showed he was playing for a 0 - 0 despite talking of "needing to score"

Great teams look to dominate the other side - Allegri's style doesn't allow that.

Time for Zidane
on the 9th March, 2019 at 10:47am
... Same too when Ferguson retired and David Moyes took over at Old Trafford.

As mentioned, the criticisms of Allegri this season appear to be more pertinent than ever before... But if he does leave, Juventus fans might regret it if his replacement proves incapable of maintaining the bianconeri hegemony. I suspect that Allegri's legacy at the club won't really be determined until it can be compared with his eventual successor.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:53am
I would point out that it isn't the case that a team of champions who are used to winning only need someone half-competent to come in who can keep the plates spinning. It is never a given that a winning team will keep winning after a change in manager. Inter were world-beaters when Mourinho left, and promptly fell apart when Benitez took over. Observe what has happened to Real Madrid since Zidane's departure.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:50am
The charges against Allegri at Juventus this season are more damning, but I am also sceptical of this lingering 'Cult of Conte' attitude that some of the Juventus faithful seem to possess. It is rather doubtful that the club's continuing success is purely down to Conte's work in his three seasons in charge.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:47am
... In effect, Berlusconi gave Allegri a basket of lemons and demanded he make lemonade – and Allegri actually did it. Milan managed to finish 3rd that season, if memory serves. Not that Berlusconi was grateful for the effort.

The charges against Allegri at Juventus this season are more damning, but I am also sceptical of this lingering 'Cult of Conte' attitude that some of the Juventus faithful seem to possess.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:45am
Infact this article sickens me and the writer is sore sick and sucks for backing Allegri!
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:44am
Regarding some of the previous comments:

Allegri was pipped to the scudetto by Conte in the latter's first season at Juventus by a small margin during a season when Milan were bedevilled by one injury crisis after another. I also do not think it's accurate to say that Allegri failed at Milan as soon as the hierarchy stopped investing. His third season with the rossoneri saw a mass exodus of important first-team players, and their replacements were mediocre at best...
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:39am
Allegri was never special as the writer deemed it to be. Could Allegri have won the scudetto with this Lazio or Roma team? Or even this intermilan side? Yet Eusebio de Francesco n Simeone Inzaghi could easily inherit the Juve mentality left behind by Conte and won! backed up by a president obsessed with success its no wonder Allegri won but when Berlusconi n Galliani had gotten tired of winning and decided not to invest, Allegri failed woefully such that that Conte juve stole the scudetto under his auspices! How can you tell me Allegri is special when he has the best juventus team in recent times? His achievements is certainly hung on Champions league triumph! Anything short of that is sheer mess and failure! Even if an idiot manages this juve squad with the gulf n gap in quality across the chasing pack he will win....
on the 9th March, 2019 at 9:13am
His statement of not a failure if they don't win UCL (and only Serie A) clearly shows he's out of his time in Rubentus.
What's the point of buying CR7 for lots of money if they, in the end, fail again in UCL? Wasn't Ronaldo the main reason for Rubentus to win that long awaited trophy?
on the 9th March, 2019 at 8:28am
juve best formation is the 4231. it is so glaringly obvious. the problem is the midfield. the quality is simply not there. the strength of the team is in the attackers. if you play the 4231 Dybala would play better because he can play just behind the main striker. Ronaldo would get more space because with 4 attackers it means they cant double mark as much. moise kean has never gotten any game time when surely he looks like a star in the making. all I hope is he makes this change vs Athletico
on the 9th March, 2019 at 8:25am
I think people are way too harsh on Allegri. How can you successfully build a philosophy when Beppe Marotta keeps selling your most influential players because they ‘asked to leave’? Granted he can be a little pragmatic at times but the reason Juventus don’t win in Europe is down to the poor quality of the teams we play in Italy. If we had a little more competition we’d fare a lot better in the continent.
on the 9th March, 2019 at 8:24am

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