Wednesday January 20 2021
Pirlo 'joy' at first coaching trophy

Andrea Pirlo celebrates his first trophy as a coach, beating Napoli to the Supercoppa, explains why Juan Cuadrado was in such good shape and shrugging off Juventus criticism.

This is the first piece of silverware in his coaching career, even if he’s won it all as a player, beating former teammate Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli 2-0.

Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock by pouncing on a lucky ricochet from a corner, then Lorenzo Insigne missed a penalty.

With Napoli pouring forward, Alvaro Morata completed the counter with the last kick of the game.

“I feel great joy, lifting my first trophy as a coach is different, I think even better than as a player, because I am leading such a great squad and at an historic club. It’s wonderful,” Pirlo told RAI Sport.

“It’s rare that two teams play well in a Final, the important thing is to win. When you play with this determination, then luck can go on your side.

“We wanted to prove that we are not the team seen against Inter, so when you play with this grit, determination and attitude, you draw luck your way.”

Pirlo was up against former teammate Rino Gattuso, who spoke of the many pranks they’d play in the old days.

“We are two coaches on two important benches, it’s a different type of work now. I am disappointed for Rino, but happy for me. We were too concentrated for joking around on the touchline tonight!”

Juan Cuadrado was not meant to be in the squad for this tournament, but was given the all-clear from COVID this morning and rushed through a medical to start, going on to be one of the most impressive players.

“Fortunately, he was asymptomatic for these 15 days. He was therefore able to train at home, he did it very well, we didn’t think he’d last the full 90 minutes, but evidently he did a great job.

“Arthur played when he was in good shape, but he arrived without playing for a few months at Barcelona, so he needed a while to get into gear. He then picked up a nasty injury.

“He proved himself tonight, he played in a slightly less centralised role today so that he could give Rodrigo Bentancur more space when building from midfield. He brings great quality on the ball, so we’re holding on tight.”

The pressure was on Pirlo after the 2-0 Serie A defeat to Inter, so this victory silences some of the critics.

“Since the start of the season we’ve been trying to play this fluid style of football, but unfortunately every week someone is missing, so it’s difficult for us to keep the same line-up with any regularity.

“After the game the other night, we didn’t deserve that much criticism considering all we’ve done this season, so I am glad they got this trophy tonight.”

The same goes for Pirlo, whose coverage in the media seems to veer between hero and zero.

“It’s part of the game, it’s easy to build people up and knock them down. I’m used to it, though, as I had ups and downs in a very long playing career. I know there’s a solid club behind me, so I can focus and continue doing my work.

“It’s natural there is going to be criticism when you come from nowhere to lead Juventus, but the results will speak for me and the team.”

As for the Scudetto race, Milan have signed ex-Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic as a free agent.

“Milan have found a player with very precise characteristics who can fit their style of football, so it’s a very good signing for them.”