“There is a blood pact among our clubs, we will press ahead.”
If ever a sentence has made a person sound even more like a James Bond villain, it was that which left the lips of Andrea Agnelli when discussing the potential collapse of the Super League.
And, as the 12 super clubs hastily made their excuses and scurried away from the distasteful dinner party one by one, it all became apparent that these declarations of unity were the desperate ramblings of a man becoming more and more unhinged.
Agnelli’s dream of separating Juventus from the rest of the flock and surrounding them with Europe’s finest specimens had never been closer to coming to fruition, but years of planning all unravelled in fewer than 72 hours. Now, his hopes and ambitions lie in tatters.
He would have got away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling 16-24-year-old kids.
The Juve owner’s future is in doubt, as his life’s work goes up in smoke before our very eyes. But it didn’t have to be this way. On paper, he is the perfect president to lead I Bianconeri to glory. He is a lifelong Juventino, he learned the ropes under the guidance of his very own family, and he grew up watching and falling in love with calcio like any other Italian boy.
So, how has Agnelli lost sight of everything that the typical Juventus fan craves?
Well, the desire to be loved can do funny things to people. It’s one thing to learn at the foot of the best in the business, but it’s another thing entirely to replicate that success and allow glory to come to you, rather than seek it directly.
Instead, Agnelli went in search of his legacy, and in doing so, got lost along the way. He started off strongly at the club, hiring Antonio Conte, helping the club transition successfully to their new stadium, and returning I Bianconeri back to the top of Italian football.
His appointments behind the scenes were spot on, and everything was in place for Juventus to win their second ever Champions League trophy and secure Agnelli’s place in the black and white history books.
Two major European finals and two defeats later, the Champions League bus appeared to have passed Agnelii without stopping. Ever since then, he’s been chasing his own history – making a string of errors along the way.
The last five years reek of shortcuts and queue-jumping.
Careful planning in the transfer window has been replaced by opportunistic freebies or marquee signings which have only boosted the business aspect of the club. The €100m splashed on Cristiano Ronaldo felt like Agnelli had finally run out of patience, and wanted the quick fix.
He craved immediate success, and it was time to go out and grab it. That gargantuan purchase, which remains a €31m-a-year drain on the club’s resources, has backfired. The squad is now suffering as a result, and the team has regressed after a flurry of chops and changes in the dugout.
Agnelli lurched from tried and tested winner Massimiliano Allegri to the entertainer Maurizio Sarri, and once he’d lost faith in his instincts, he went out and bought into a fairytale narrative in Andrea Pirlo. Whether the Juve legend will start next season as their coach remains to be seen.
And so, having haemorrhaged money in the transfer market and significantly decreased the squad’s chances of winning the Champions League, Agnelli picked up his ball, went home, and decided to start his own game.
Unfortunately, his business acumen has proven to be as superficial as his football acumen, as over five years of work has been foiled by proper football fans in under three days.
Agnelli is now at a crossroads: hated in Italy and across Europe for trying to destroy football, despised at UEFA’s headquarters for being a ‘snake’ in the words of president Aleksander Ceferin, and seriously questioned as the rightful leader of his beloved Juventus.
His reputation is lower than ever before, and having gone in search of fame and fortune, he has now permanently tarnished his legacy.