If you’d told Andrea Pirlo a year ago, that in the space of nine months he’d have coached Juventus’ Under-23 side, been promoted to the senior team and then stood on the brink of the sack, he’d have spat out his glass of red win and chuckled.
But the 41-year-old did indeed tear himself away from the glorious vineyards of Brescia to take up the role of Bianconeri youth team coach in July, only to then be propelled into Maurizio Sarri’s still warm hot seat as first-team coach nine days later.
The more cynical of us would say that we saw this coming: Juve are 13 points off the Serie A summit with five games to play, and if that isn’t bad enough, they risk missing out on Champions League qualification for next year.
Add to that their European exit at the hands of Porto, and Pirlo must be wondering what ever possessed him to leave behind the stress-free life of grape cultivation.
It’s no surprise then, that the rookie coach’s job is hanging in the balance, and given their mediocre showings throughout the campaign, it’s hard to argue against his dismissal. But of all the three recent Juve coaches, he can feel the most hard-done-by.
The Old Lady couldn’t be more bloated and unbalanced if she’d gone to an all you can eat Chinese buffet and forgotten her trusty zimmer frame. The squad is riddled with average players, and you can count on one hand the number of stars who can consider themselves worthy of a place in the starting line up next year.
So, it’s an underwhelming squad with an inexperienced manager. Hardly the recipe for a summer revolution. In truth, Pirlo deserves time. He wasn’t hired to bring automatic success both on the continent and in Italy, and his appointment was seen as the start of a new legacy.
But football is an unforgiving business, and with a man like Andrea Agnelli at the helm, time is precious. After all, we know how much he loves UEFA competition, don’t we?
Should Agnelli simultaneously hit the Panic and Reset buttons this summer, there is only one option which makes that decision worthwhile: re-hiring Massimiliano Allegri.
Allegri has been away from Turin for two years, and frankly, the city has become a darker place without him. The only complaint made against the serial winner during his tenure was the quality of the football (winning football, at that), along with his inability to get them over the line in the Champions League.
If only they were Juventus’ sole issues now.
While many in Italy usually warn against la minestra riscaldata (reheated soup) – a manager returning to a former club, in this case – very few people believe this reunion would be a bad idea. There’s a sense of unfinished business between Allegri and Juve, and he’ll be handed the freedom required to remould the Old Lady back into his image.
The players have lost their way under Sarri and Pirlo. In their quest for exciting, adventurous football, they’ve lost the thing that makes them so quintessentially Juve: the desire to win at all costs, and the grit to play the game fino alla fine.
Allegri embodies the Juve mantra, “Winning is not important, it’s the only thing that counts,” and it was that mentality which earned him five straight league titles in Turin, as well as a couple of close shaves in Europe.
Juventus supporters would kill for the days of ‘boring’ Allegri football combined with the most controlled and comfortable of victories, as well as the odd flirt with the Champions League – rather than Europe simply swiping left to end their romance at the beginning.
He is the only man who boasts the CV, the man management skills and the experience to sift through this Juve squad, pick out the nuggets of gold and rebuild them into being the most feared team in Italy. And he’ll win league titles at a canter while doing it, too.
Provided that Agnelli has learned his lesson, he’ll hand Allegri the keys to make whichever changes he feels necessary – including a decision on the future of Cristiano Ronaldo – no matter how commercially damaging it might be.
I Bianconeri need a hero to stop them from slumping to another season of mediocrity, and Allegri is the only man capable of restoring the good times with immediate effect.