Friday June 7 2019
Teaching the Old Lady new tricks

After radical changes in their marketing strategy, now Juventus are rebranding on the pitch too, writes Kaustubh Pandey.

Be it under Antonio Conte or Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus are known more for managing games and digging out results than putting on a show for fans and neutrals.

That is why getting linked with Coaches like Maurizio Sarri, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola is strange for the Old Lady. They undoubtedly are top class managers who are doing very good things at their clubs, but they prefer playing football in a manner that is far more aesthetically pleasing than Juve.

The Bianconeri have become accustomed to playing that way over a period of time, so much so that the style has defined this era and club just as much as their results.

Much like what has happened at Chelsea, the demand for perfection from a tactician like Sarri, Pochettino or Guardiola at Juventus would be massive. It would be right from the first day, because of how much fans have grown used to success from the other brand of football.

Where Juventus are currently, they indeed do want instant results. The signature of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer was meant to be the icing on the cake Allegri had already baked. Even though Ronaldo was 33, he was brought in as the final piece in the jigsaw for a pragmatic system when Juve had failed to win the Champions League.

Ronaldo wasn’t the key to success, so will one more element like a vastly different Coach make all the difference? Looking at the current squad, they only know how to play one way and that is pragmatically.

It is the third oldest side in Serie A at an average of 28 and Guardiola, Sarri and Pochettino are likely to want fitter and quicker players to fit their styles, or mould the existing ones into their ideals. That process does not happen in a single season.

While Sarri has managed to get Chelsea to the Europa League title and third in the Premier League, the failures of Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal in getting points at crucial stages towards the end of the season helped Sarri get the Blues to the Champions League. In every single game, signs are very much visible that it isn’t quite a complete Sarri-esque side yet.

A manager like Guardiola will, of course, be backed by the owners. But this current Juventus side is much more aged and clunky than the Manchester City one that the Catalonian took over. It has too many ageing players who might not play in a system that requires them to work harder.

For Pochettino, it isn’t about money. It is very much evident. The lack of signings has helped him in that regard. Tottenham reached the Champions League Final because they had this consistency in squad selection and playing style. Over a period of time, they matured and acquired vital Champions League experience. In this case, ‘over a period of time’ is a crucial phrase.

Perhaps, the idea is to make sure that this side reaches the next level at some point and not in immediate time. But that approach is unlikely for Juve, who are desperate for success in the short-term after the Allegri and Ronaldo project failed to do that in the Champions League.

So why the sudden pivot to a more pleasing style of football? Part of it is about prestige, some reflects the teams that found success in the Champions League in recent years, while yet more is down to money. The more entertaining a team plays, the more their brand gets noticed around the world and the more fans they attract.

Juve have already tried winning the Champions League with pragmatism and failed. Their stranglehold over Serie A probably wouldn’t be broken even with a more radical approach, so there is little to realistically lose once you’ve won eight in a row.

There was so much controversy and pushback when Juventus announced the rebranding of their club badge to a more sleek, modern J, but fans got used to it. Now the rebranding moves on to the pitch with the Old Lady learning new tricks.

Have your say...
@Primo, Wrong! Fans of new generation want more CL clashes & less domestic (low quality) matches like Frosinone vs Chievo for example. The fact that you describe is nothing but sentiment wrapped with envy and a bit resentment. In the end, this is all about money and there is no good side and bad side in this matter. Agnelli is only doing his role: to satisfy the new age consumers. FIFA & UEFA has been too greedy. That's why this issue come to the surface.
on the 9th June, 2019 at 8:36am
These reforms will hurt the domestic leagues and all the history an culture that goes along with it. I call Agnelli a snake because he leads the charge for these 'reforms', which the vast majority of fans don't want, which further cements a European elite at the top of football at the detriment to the history of football.
I'm far from the only one with this take on the situation. A simple Google search will show writers of the same opinion from the Der Spiegel to the Telegraph to the NY Times.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 11:05pm
The fact is the big clubs already have monopolies over their domestic leagues: Juve in Italy, Bayern in Germany, PSG in France, and Barca/Real in Spain. The leagues lack competitiveness and the tv product in damaged. They can't keep up financially with EPL clubs because they will never get the massive $billion TV deals in their domestic leagues like the EPL does. The only way to keep up is to milk more out of the UCL which is what the reforms are really about.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 10:54pm
The reforms are a step in the direction of a "Super League". Are you saying the richest clubs used the Super League as a bluff so that they could negotiate, "Greater chance for all clubs in low tier of European leagues to play regularly in CL."? The big buys threaten to walk away for the benefit of the little guys?
I understand the proposal is for a 3 tier Pan-European competition, but the top tier would be the playground of the already established big boys.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 10:44pm
@Primo,What are you talking about? I feel like you don't really understand of the Agnelli's proposal for reforming Champions League.I'm talkin about the ECA's proposal NOT about the Super League issue which has been over after UEFA drop their arrogance by willing to discuss with Agnelli about the idea.

Bottom line,if approved there will be more CL matches and teams that play in domestic leagues will be reduced.Greater chance for all clubs in low tier of European leagues to play regularly in CL.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 7:27pm
@Giancarlo C
You can try to phrase it any way you like but the top European clubs are trying to create a sort of monopoly. It's a reflection of the growing inequality between rich and poor in the globalized, neoliberal world. Agnelli is the poster boy for this movement in football.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 4:00pm
Strongly agreed @PrimoCalcio Agnelli is deeply cynical, to the point of obliviousness. He will turn Juventus (love or loathe them, a pillar of Italian football) into a mere asset. He seems to, on some level, have no comprehension of why people love their team, and why people care about the outcome of Juventus playing Inter whereas people generally don't care about how two corporations fare against each other in the market.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 7:17am
@PrimoCalcio, If you had learned and fully understood his proposals, you wouldn't come here and blindly accuse him being a snake.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 3:01am
@PrimoCalcio, There is no Super League. It's just a bluff to make UEFA sit down and listen to ECA's proposal for reforming Champions League. So far, UEFA's reaction is more like "giving a bribe" to top four European Leagues by granting them 4 automatic places in the Champions League group stage from the 2018-19 season onwards. That way, UEFA expect top clubs will turn their back on Agnelli and their plan partially works.
on the 8th June, 2019 at 2:45am
@PrimoCalcio Agreed. I've never felt so distant from this club as a fan than this year in particular. Can't remember the last time I bought any merchandise as I no longer feel that deep level of attachment since the Del Piero days. Agnelli needs to watch what he's doing. One thing I will commend him for though is his unwavering commitment to rectify the 2005-06 shambles.
on the 7th June, 2019 at 7:47pm
Too many aging players Bouncci,Chiellini,Matuidi,Ronaldo,Khedria,Cuadrado and Mandzukic over 30.....7 players out of what 30?? Who will be shocked to see Khedria,Mandzukic, Cuadrado and Matuidi leave???
on the 7th June, 2019 at 4:40pm
Poch played 5 at the back more often last season and in the 2016-17 season. He has played a back four a vast majority of times this season because Eric Dier has become injury troubled. He is flexible in that aspect and even when Spurs have played 3 at the back, they looked aesthetically pleasing last season. Fact.
on the 7th June, 2019 at 4:25pm
Agnelli really is a snake. Accusing the leagues of "protectionism" because they're against his caste system he calls "Super League". The man really seems bent on killing competition and over 100 years of fan culture of ordinary working people with which modern football is built upon.

The Super League really is a gross attempt by the mega-rich to squeeze as much profit from the beautiful game as they can even at the expense of destroying the sport and its history.
on the 7th June, 2019 at 3:28pm
Pochettino usually plays 5 at the back with two defensive midfielders on front of them. But sure, 'aesthetically pleasing' why not.
on the 7th June, 2019 at 1:43pm

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