Juventus have sealed their eighth consecutive Serie A title, and although their achievements can be admired, the rest of Italy need to look shake off their victim mentalities and assess how they can improve themselves.
Despite possessing the strongest squad in the league and being run by the Agnelli family, La Vecchia Signora are the best of a weak bunch. Long gone are the days when Italian industrialists would spend lavishly to bolster their squads and Serie A clubs were feared. Many teams are still rebuilding their reputations after some tough times.
Italian clubs and their supporters complain about the refereeing and VAR decisions, particularly when they play Juventus, but they need to acknowledge that there are many aspects where they can improve on and off the pitch.
Whether it’s out of desperation to sign players or the inability to properly detect the weak points of their squads, poor investment has been made by some of Serie A’s biggest clubs in recent years.
Both Milanese clubs have had to be sold to foreign investors and they are yet to relive the glory days under their new owners. Since Massimo Moratti sold Inter to Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir in 2013, they have not won a trophy, and have acquired an abundance of defensive midfielders, such as Geoffrey Kondogbia, Joao Mario, and Roberto Gagliardini.
Thohir sold the Nerazzurri to Zhang Jindong of the Suning Holdings Group in 2016 and the club hired former Juventus general director Giuseppe Marotta to be the CEO for Sport in December 2018. Marotta was fundamental in laying the foundations for La Vecchia Signora’s latest dominance of Italian football but he will need to convince sporting director Piero Ausilio to stop buying defensive midfielders.
City rivals AC Milan have changed owners twice since Silvio Berlusconi sold the club to Chinese businessman Yonghong Li in April 2017. In the summer of that year, directors Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli spent over €200 million to revolutionise the squad and most of the players have failed to live up to expectations.
The Elliott Management seized control of the club from Li in July 2018 after he struggled to make payments on his loan to the hedge fund, and the current board are still trying to fix the mess left by the previous administration, which are further highlighted by their latest Financial Fair Play issues.
Roma have recently fired Eusebio Di Francesco but former sporting director Monchi destabilised the squad with his sales and purchases. Key players such as Alisson, Radja Nainggolan, and Kevin Strootman were sold and the Spaniard brought in no less than 12 new names to the club.
Despite reaching the Champions League semi-finals in 2017/18, the Giallorossi could miss out on European football altogether in 2019/20 as interim coach Claudio Ranieri has struggled to turn their fortunes around.
Eternal City rivals Lazio have surprisingly been the more stable of the two Roman clubs and Biancocelesti tactician Simone Inzaghi deserves praise for bringing the best out of the players at his disposal.
Due to the frugal investment of president Claudio Lotito though, it is unlikely that Inzaghi will have a team that can realistically fight for domestic and European honours like the Aquile sides of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Napoli have been Juventus’ nearest rivals for the Scudetto despite not having the same funds and a smaller squad but they have not been able to win their first title since 1989/90. Arguably their problem is psychological, not just a financial one, and perhaps they need to shrug off their inferiority complex and have greater self-belief.
There are provincial clubs like Atalanta and Sassuolo that have punched above their weight in recent years by qualifying for the Europa League but clubs like Fiorentina and Torino should be posing a greater threat for European spots, even if they are not in a position to challenge for silverware.
This is a Juventus squad filled with talent. Coach Massimiliano Allegri has the luxury of choosing between Wojciech Szczesny and Mattia Perin in goal, has experienced defenders like Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci to marshal the defence, Miralem Pjanic to control the play, one of the brightest young prospects in Italian football in Moise Kean, and can rely on goals from Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Bianconeri have been playing like they are in second gear throughout the league campaign. Rarely do they have to exert a lot of energy to beat an opponent in Serie A, but due to alleged favouritism from referees and memories of the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, the stigma attached to the Torinese club remains and rivals use it as an excuse for their own shortcomings.
Perhaps if Italy’s other clubs put the conspiracy theories aside and assessed the flaws in their modus operandi, then we might witness the end of Juventus’ latest hegemony on the Italian peninsula.