2016-17 SERIE A REVIEW

Serie A Coach of the Season 2016-17

Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus

The Bianconeri boss deserves praise for taking an already formidable Juventus side to the next level, writes Nick Valerio.

Three seasons at the helm, three league triumphs, three Coppa Italia trophies, two Champions League Finals. Max Allegri has once again set the standard amongst his peers, and, ominously for the likes of Maurizio Sarri and Vincenzo Montella, shows no sign of relenting, continuing to make a mockery of Milan’s decision to dismiss him in 2014.

Other worthy candidates include Sarri, Simone Inzaghi and Gian Piero Gasperini, but Allegri has the silverware, and a unique grit to compliment his abilities as a Coach.

At times this year, the Italian has made it look easy. Yes, the league table may show Roma four points adrift, but the truth of the matter is Juventus are a class above their rivals, and its Allegri who has been instrumental in guiding the powerful machine.

The Italian strives for excellence, and this is embodied through his team. Anything less than perfection and the Livorno native has made his voice heard. Take for instance Miralem Pjanic. The Bosnian has been a success following his move from the Giallorossi last summer, but his manager demanded more. Call it unfair, or genius, but since this public complaint, the midfielder has improved further. Allegri is a tough task master and his man-management had the desired effects, showing he knows how to get the best out of his players.

Elsewhere, if any member of the playing staff thought they were bigger than the collective, this has been spectacularly squashed. No one is safe, even if you are the best defender in Europe, in the case of Leonardo Bonucci. The ball playing centre-half and Allegri exchanged insults in February during the 4-1 win against Palermo, and Bonucci subsequently sat out the deciding leg of the last-16 showdown with Porto. There will only ever be one winner.

Allegri is not to be underestimated, and the decision to omit a club icon should be a lesson to everyone. Indeed, the tactician took a risk in dropping Bonucci, but his stance was admirable, making his stewardship stand out to other top managers who would choose to settle the matter in private.

The Bianconeri Coach has also handled his squad perfectly, an underrated skill, particularly when there is an array of stars available beyond the first XI. There have been no murmurs of discontent in the ranks and everyone has been made to feel important, contributing at one stage or another this season. Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner have played 17 and 25 league games respectively.

Certainly the most notable difference in comparison to the previous two title-winning seasons is the introduction of a new formation. It would have been considerably easier to continue with the tried and tested 3-5-2 formula which has proven so successful, but Allegri was brave and bold, opting for a 4-2-3-1 line-up in late January, and the defeat to Fiorentina was the catalyst. He had all this attacking talent at his disposal, so why not use it simultaneously? It was the shock and awe approach.

The other masterstroke played by Allegri was the introduction of burly hitman Mario Mandzukic on the left wing. It has been nothing short of inspired from the Bianconeri boss, to not only imagine the idea, but to execute it, and the Croatian’s commitment to the role is testament to both player and Coach. Juventus as one continue to raise the bar, year upon year.