Tuesday April 6 2021
Hypocritical to sack Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo could be sacked if Juventus lose to Napoli, but Kaustubh Pandey argues that the coach is not the only one guilty of Juventus' downfall.

Despite recent glory, Juventus are staring at the prospect of a potential change in the dug-out for the third time in just as many years.

The Bianconeri have gone back ten seasons as they find themselves fighting for a top-four spot after nine Serie A titles in a row. For all the decisions they've made, it seems as if there's now a realisation that Juventus did get things wrong.

The process began when Andrea Agnelli, Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved had disagreements about who Massimiliano Allegri's successor would be. In all honesty, the President didn't want to part ways with Allegri in the first place and vetoed a possible return of Antonio Conte.

The former Italy CT was among the candidates to take the Juventus job along with Simone Inzaghi and Maurizio Sarri. Almost like they didn't know what he represented, the ex-Napoli boss was brought in.

He arrived during a window where the focus seemed to be financial and not sporting, despite the €85m signing of Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax. There was an emphasis on selling players in a desperate attempt to lure Mauro Icardi to the club and, at the same time, keep the books in order.

The three most significant sales in the summer of 2019 were Leonardo Spinazzola to Roma, Joao Cancelo to Manchester City, in a swap deal with Danilo, and Moise Kean to Everton for just €30m.

Sarri was handed a stagnated squad that had played a completely different brand of football over the last ten years. He was expected to complete his long-term overhaul within months and get aged players to change their playing style in days. It never happened.

The target was to win the Champions League, something Allegri couldn't do after years at the club and despite having Cristiano Ronaldo in the team, albeit in his last season in Turin. Sarri's relationship with a part of the dressing room was not ideal either and blinded by their short-term approach to fixing problems, Juventus sacked Sarri in August, despite a ninth Scudetto in a row.

Pirlo's appointment was hypocritical in a way not only because the former midfielder had been named head coach of Juventus U23 squad only ten days prior.

Il Maestro was one of the most brilliant players in the history of the game. But, as many of his former teammates had warned, coaching is a whole different thing. Pirlo hadn't even submitted his thesis for the UEFA Pro Coaching Course when he got the job and had to replace someone who had worked his way up the footballing pyramid, struggling through the bottom and grafting his way to the top.

It isn't to say that Pirlo hasn't brought fresh ideas to the plate. He has. The squad has been replenished much more than it was under Sarri. Like there was under Sarri, though, it still seems in a developmental stage. The double-pivot that Pirlo uses seems more suited to a midfield-three.

There have been issues around getting killed on the transition and getting overrun in the heart of the park. Dejan Kulusevski seems more suited to another role than what he's getting. In essence, there's often a lack of balance in the team, and like it was under Sarri, it is robotic multiple times. And it indeed looked robotic in that dreaded night against Porto.

The dynamism has worked well sometimes, especially the reliable trick of dropping Alvaro Morata deeper to pick out a Ronaldo run in-behind. A general front of five when building from the back with a rhombus is an innovation that has caught the eye of many and helped Weston McKennie's development.

But in many ways, it's almost like a first stage of the evolution of this Juve side. There is still a lack of variety, leading to things looking one-dimensional, especially when breaking organised defences down.

However, the word 'process' has long been diminished from the elite European clubs' dictionaries. It begs an ideological question more than a tactical question. It's about the identity as a club (or as a brand). But more than anything, it would be hypocritical to axe a 'development' coach after just one season, when the board had rather unfair expectations in the first place. They've done that before with Sarri and left themselves tied up.

Sacking Pirlo would demand a compensation fee for the Lombardian, and it would mean starting a new project all over from the beginning. It would mean that they'd have to hire a new coach with a different philosophy and different transfer priorities. It'd bring additional financial burden during the pandemic era, and it's something Juve can ill-afford, especially since Pirlo was a low-cost take himself.

It must be said that finishing outside the top four would be difficult to accept, especially for its economic implications. Pirlo has the opportunity to coach the team with the highest wage bill in Serie A and one of the best players in the history of the game, namely Cristiano Ronaldo. The coach hasn't been self-critical and indeed has some responsibility, but maybe expectations on him were a bit too high from the very beginning.

Agnelli picked the former midfielder to bring 'enthusiasm' back to the Continassa but hiring an inexperienced coach for such a predictably chaotic season was a huge gamble that is not paying off.

Pirlo's sacking could easily lead to even more complications. If firing Sarri after a season was unfair, the same applies for Pirlo - irrespective of their backgrounds. It's time for Juve to learn their lessons and stick with Pirlo. Otherwise, one would argue the club's plan over the last three years was not to have a plan at all.



Have your say...
@ JUVE PAYED 40 MILLION FOR BERNARDESCHI : Come next week Juve played more CL finals in the last 10 years than Inter has played round of 16 games so if I may ask...what is easier:

A-Playing a CL final
B-Passing the CL group stage

I know my you know my your answer ? :)
on the 9th April, 2021 at 5:22pm

Sure, you dont care Inter is winning the league lol.


Saddest most fragile juventini ever. Ha ha ha.

Take care and good luck chasing CL.
on the 9th April, 2021 at 7:19am
terms of risk assessment, on what possible basis can directors be making calls about people who have never managed a senior side? If they're success, it's a fluke. And this is in the same climate where teams won't give 5 minutes of game time to youth prospects. Covid could be a factor but we simply don't know what Pirlo's capable of - he's far too inexperienced.
on the 8th April, 2021 at 11:47pm
@ dennis That is true and the issue with Wenger was a lack of succession planning (which again falls on the feet of the directors). I am not blaming Pirlo for anything. I think the blame lies squarely with the directors. We won't know whether or not Pirlo is a good manager until he's actually managed. Right now he's a total novice. Sure managers have to start somewhere but surely not at the number one team in Italy? That's madness. Some novices have been a success. Zidane is one. But purely in
on the 8th April, 2021 at 11:43pm
You can blame covid, you can blame the inexperience of Pirlo, but that does not Justify loosing to Benevento and 10 men Porto. Those mistakes Juve made against Porto are inexcusable. I never seen a Juve under Allegri makae mistakes like that. Pirlo might have the right ideas and you can see in some stints of play, but he is not able to motivate this squad and i dont see that changing. The players are day dreaming half the time and you dont see any yelling on the side line. Bring back Allegri!!!
on the 8th April, 2021 at 11:28pm
All I can say is this. People loved to bash Max Allegri, but before him we could not even beat Galatasaray. He came in and two CL finals. I will rather be in the CL final in June then watch the likes of Porto and Lyon kicking us out in March, which gave me a few sleepless nights. We did not play beautiful, but we beat some strong sides. Now we dont even have a chance to get past Lyon and Porto. Both Sari and Pirlo failed Miserably. I love Pirlo, but he does not know how to motivate at all.
on the 8th April, 2021 at 11:16pm
@ JUVE PAYED 40 MILLION FOR BERNARDESCHI: unless inter do something in CL i could care less about the scudetto - Inter winning the league yet finishing piss last in the CL group stage is proof that this inter will be considered one of the weakest teams to ever win the league. So, what is it now, 10 years since inter played a round of 16 match in CL ? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA !!!!!! you gonna blame that also on calciopoli? ;)
on the 8th April, 2021 at 8:09pm
experience but who is to say that if things were normal as in crowds, time to implement his ideas, none of this insane schedule, players self isolating, suffering from covid and other things that this pandemic has thrown at all of us. I have no idea what kind of manager Pirlo is but it is far too easy to blame everything on his inexperience rather than be emphatic to the fact that taking training this season is not the same as it used to be or has Klopp suddenly become trash too?
on the 8th April, 2021 at 1:23pm
@Maldini's H the flip side of your argument is Wenger. He made all the decisions but that didn't help Arsenal in his later reign. Zidane has more cl wins than Fergie btw. in far less matches while too many are on 2 wins to make it that much of a big deal. The 1 thing nobody seems to be talking about and why I am loathe to comment on Pirlo 1 way or the other is the covid situation. I know it has affected how I do my job so why do you guys not think it has affected Pirlo. Sure he has 0 management
on the 8th April, 2021 at 1:16pm
Hypocritical, perhaps, but that's not exactly out of character for Juve. Juve seem certain they have an idea on a bigger picture but when you look at their current situation I just don't see it. They sold some great youth prospects and invested 100m + 30m per year salary in a player that has delivered no more than Vucinic. It's like Strangelove, one part of Juve wants to do one thing and the other part wants to do another.
on the 8th April, 2021 at 11:40am
Inter fans really are the worst. They can't even enjoy their success. They're constantly having a go at Juve and Milan fans. This is after their club broke the entire league and set it back about 10 years. One would think that that would make them a little bit hesitant, but NOO, they double down.

@ Man To call Juve a "failure" after winning 9 titles in a row is ridiculous. And part of the reason they struggled in Europe was because of the lack of competition at home. PSG have the same issue.
on the 7th April, 2021 at 11:54pm
Berlusconi. But my post was more about the sheer number of directors now AND the very poor decision making in respect of key footballing and financial issues. Clubs are losing fortunes because of mismanagement. And surely if your main job is to find a manager, you'd want to at least not hire someone with zero experience. How many companies just hire random CEOs with no experience?
on the 7th April, 2021 at 11:50pm
@ Omarza81 Are you denying that Ferguson is not the most successful manager of all time? He won the Champions Leagues twice. Only Ancelotti has won it more times. He's won more titles than any manager ever. 48. Thats' FORTY EIGHT. Mircea Lucescu is second with 32 trophies. As to Barca and Real, one thing that they sort of have in common is that they were also clubs which owe a lot of their success to key figures. Maybe not managers, but club owners. And I suppose Milan were the same under
on the 7th April, 2021 at 11:48pm

Juve havent won a single international title in 25 years. Thats failure.

Buffon have participated in 16 CL seasons with Juve, 0 trophies. Thats failure.

Buffon played 6 seasons at Parma and there he won his only international title at club level.
Thats succes.

Noone gets agitaded, we laugh at your desperate way of coping with the fact the club you hate the most is winning the league.

Good luck fighting for CL spots next season.
on the 7th April, 2021 at 9:51pm
@Man: you know what a failure looks like ? from lifting the CL to finishing dead last in the CL group stage in only 10 years.......that is a failure ! not passing the CL group stage in 10 years that is a failure ..... in case you do not know, finishing 2nd in a class of 32 teams is way better than finishing 25th ....would you agree ?? but tomorrow interisti will be agitated because when they read this they will assume i am referring to them of course :)
on the 7th April, 2021 at 8:50pm
@Maldini's Heir

What are you talking about? The most successful team of the past 30 years? LMAO. What about Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern? They all won far more than United, especially in Europe.
on the 7th April, 2021 at 2:35pm
The run was always going to end. Midfield has been a disaster area and Marotta to Inter was our biggest transfer mistake. Pirlo is a legend but never coached any team and is out of his depth. The team is not coached (CR7 free kicks, passing awful, no playing identity). Max got us to 2 Champions League finals and was a serial winner of leagues and cups (unlike Conte who is only league). We got arrogant + thought any coach could win the scudetto with us, big mistake. Get it fixed, get Max back now
on the 7th April, 2021 at 2:29pm
Juve have done just enough to always win the Scudetto but not enough to win the CL. They came close realistically once, against RM with Allegri, but naturally he had them go for it too late in the game. After that they never looked like real contenders tbh. After 9 Scudetto and 0 CL I would consider that a failure in some respects. Hypocritical to sack Pirlo? Was it not hypocritical to hire him in the 1st place? It's good that Inter win the Scudetto, its exactly what the league and Juve need.
on the 7th April, 2021 at 1:45pm
do? Except make “financial decisions” that end costing clubs more? And Juve are one of the better run clubs....
on the 7th April, 2021 at 10:15am
these tasks are more jobsworths creating more jobs. What seems to be missing are the realty important jobs like finding a semi-experienced manager, having any kind of coherent transfer policy or any notion of what to do with youth players. There’s companies that employ thousands and have some kind of plan for each employee. A football club has about 75 players between the different teams and nobody seems to have the time to sit down and work out where they’re going. So what exactly do directors
on the 7th April, 2021 at 10:13am
directors are just trying to justify their existence with constant chopping and changing, and generally interfering. The most successful club of the past 30 years were Man Utd where Ferguson was left to make all of the decisions. Surely it’s not a bad idea to let the person making the tactical decisions make the tiger decisions as well. People say that there’s all these new tasks that apparently didn’t exist 30 years ago but even then I can’t help but feel that many of those tasks are also being
on the 7th April, 2021 at 10:06am
@ mez These “financial decisions” never seem to be, well, that financial. They usually involve paying out massive compensation or wasting money on some shiny new signing that ends in failure and selling another player who ends up performing better elsewhere, all at a loss. In fact the more directors seem to try and save money, the more they spend. A bit like when governments try and cut their way out of recessions and end up getting further into recession. I can’t help but think that the
on the 7th April, 2021 at 10:00am
Pilro's appointment, just like most of the signings in the past year or two, was a finacial decision rather than a footballing one. But then the real question is, are Juve really sacrificing the scudetto, progress in the UCL, qulaification for the UCL(maybe) for next year and god knows what else, so Pirlo can learn on the job???? Does that not amount to a much bigger financial hit??? It just beggars belief!!
on the 7th April, 2021 at 9:11am
Pirlo should have never been hired in the first place - the same applies to Sarri. Parashitsi Tootsie and Blond Bozo destroyed all the hard work of the past few years. Tootsie, Pirlo and Bozo all need to be fired, with extreme prejudice. The squad is extremely unbalanced and being coached by a novice. Terrible decisions were made. Agnelli needs to act before it's too late.
on the 7th April, 2021 at 4:26am
Pirlo was a brilliant player, but coaching is another game altogether. A manager must be tactically astute, willing to change things quickly when things aren't working, and they need to be terrific motivators and be able to manage a dressing room full of egos (like stopping Ronnie taking all free kicks). I don't think Pirlo excels at any of these. Max Allegri has all of those attributes - all he needed was a decent midfield which he asked for but did not get. That's on Paratici. Bring back Max.
on the 7th April, 2021 at 12:01am
cmon WE ALL KNEW when declared Pirlo the new coach it was an insane gamble ... most likely this type of failure we before us was going to be outcome. no real experience AT ALL, with the biggest coaching job in italy ? as well they boot a guy (Sarri) who actually won the 9th scudetto in 1 season. shows the confusion from being at the top too long. and keep chasing that CL like moby dick, as destroys the entire squad through failure even with a god like CR7 on your side.

must bring in Zizou.
on the 6th April, 2021 at 10:19pm
I do not know why Italian teams likes old coaches. Give Pirlo time, everything about this season not normal because of COVID19 and that's not Pirlo's fault.
on the 6th April, 2021 at 9:48pm
Some interesting observations in the comments. I think we are mostly in agreement big changes are needed in midfield. The trouble is Juve don’t seem to have a lot of money available right now to attract top level players they need to get in order to get back onion serieA and challenge to win the c. League. Also I don’t see many top level managers available. Considering this, what players and manager do you think juve should go for?
on the 6th April, 2021 at 8:15pm
Certain managers can bring the best out of players even when they lack motivation or are overmatched. Lacking purpose the entire team suffers and success is lost. Gasperini, Gattuso, Inzaghi, Mihajlovic and Juric often get more out of their undermanned teams then big budget clubs. Why? The desire to give all in order to succeed is obvious on the pitch, you see/feel it. Chiesa, Chiellini(when healthy), Ronaldo, Cuadrado ,Szcezny come to play. Pirlo needs to kick the others in the butt. Lead now!
on the 6th April, 2021 at 7:48pm
what else is new the coach always get the blame even if there aren't really to blame. still if juve don't qualify for the champions league he has to go considering the quality of players he has at his disposal.
on the 6th April, 2021 at 7:17pm

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