Juventus Maxed Out? Massimiliano Allegri’s Uncertain Future at the Bianconeri
As Massimiliano Allegri reaches the end of his third season at Juventus, it is looking increasingly unlikely that he will enter into a fourth. Were he to do so, however, he would be the first Bianconeri boss to go into a fourth season in charge since Marcello Lippi
Rumours have been rife since the turn of the year that Massimiliano Allegri is set to leave Juventus at the end of the season and, while nothing has yet been confirmed, it would bring the curtain down on yet another period of Bianconeri dominance were he to do so.
Allegri arrived at Juventus in a whirlwind. On 15th July 2014, Antonio Conte left his post as Bianconeri coach, and the following day Allegri took the reins. They were big boots to fill, yet he would leave the Turin side in better shape than he took over.
It would be a familiar state of affairs for the champions; while each Juventus side may feel like a dynasty, the turnover of coaches is steady. Not since Marcello Lippi’s first spell, from 1994 to 1999, has the same man sat on the bench for more than three campaigns. By that rationale, Allegri’s time is up.
Should he choose to leave his post, there would be no shortage of offers. He has enjoyed success with both Juventus and, previously, Milan, winning his domestic league with both.
Indeed, despite seeming imperious under Conte, there is something of the immortal about the Juventus of recent seasons. In Serie A, though they may suffer flesh wounds, they do not wear the scars anything like as heavily as their rivals.
The improvement of the Bianconeri under Allegri has been palpable, however difficult it was to imagine before he took charge. His side’s domestic record is second to none – other than Luigi Bertolini, who sat in the dugout for just 10 games, no coach has a higher win percentage with the club – over 71 percent.
Yet there was scepticism following his appointment, using the record of a poor Milan side to suggest Allegri was not good enough to improve his new club. It took time to assert his ideas onto the side, but his belief in youthful players and attacking football were present from the start. To reassure supporters, the results were almost immediate.
The Juventus side of 2014-15 was very different to today’s. While their defensive line remains firm, most of the other fundamentals have changed and the players’ names moved from selection to folklore.
It seems an age since the days of Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez, but they were the stars – along with Arturo Vidal – of Allegri’s side back then. Perhaps it is illustrative of the need for experience in a team that the Bianconeri reached the Champions League final that year, Allegri’s best result so far.
Anaxarchus advised Alexander the Great (who considered himself immortal) that there were infinite worlds, reportedly causing the ancient king to weep – he had not yet conquered one world, so his ambition to rule everything became even more remote.
Allegri may have conquered Italy, but he has not yet raised his standard in Europe. Reaching a Champions League final is one thing, but winning it – proving that you can coach a team that outdoes all of the monsters of the European game is quite another.
Another club in another country may enable him to further those horizons, though with Juventus’ current Champions League campaign not yet written, it would be difficult to imagine Allegri choosing to leave if he is able to break the 21 year drought for a third crown.
Should there be doubts in his ability to build a team, he can point to his overhaul of Juventus in 2015; with the arrivals of Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado key to the continued excellence of the side. Dybala’s vision and creativity have marked him out as one of the best forward players in the world despite his youth, while Cuadrado’s previous inconsistency has been levelled out, making him a more reliable performer, especially in big games.
Of course, it took a little while to get things right in 2015-16, but after 10 hit and miss games, it was all hit – just five points dropped after November.
From then on, it has been business as usual. Allegri’s charges have peaks and troughs of form, but always seem to win. Sometimes they sparkle, other times they shine.
It is clear that Allegri has unfinished business, both with Juventus and with football. Whether he is able to resolve that remains to be seen. Certainly, the Champions League will not be an easy task to win.
With that in mind, it is perhaps logical to move on. He has built a team now that should have no trouble continuing to be successful, though there will soon be a significant change required in the defensive unit. Replacing such players as Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli will create issues of its own, even with the options already in place in the shape of Daniele Rugani.
Allegri has shown he can do that level of remodelling once, but it seems increasingly likely he will not be around to do so again. Whatever happens, those fans who doubted his appointment at the start have been made to eat humble pie since then. This Juventus, Allegri’s Juventus, are one of the best.