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Seeking calmer waters…

We have the weakest coach in every competition we have entered this campaign. Yet one of the strongest squads.

I would suggest we also have one of, if not the weakest coaching teams – given Pirlo brought in other inexperienced staff to work closely with him on the training field.

This might seem harsh, and it is. Yet please understand this is no wild tirade of brutal criticism aimed cruelly at Pirlo. It is ridiculous to blame him for his mistakes, when he needs to make many more IF he is to become a capable manager. Of Juve, or any other side…

What the hell were we thinking???

Too many of us, myself included, got carried away with the fanciful idea that a coach with zero experience outside of the classroom could hit the ground running and be close to quickly, if not instantly competent. If heavy value is based on experience, and for me it certainly is, now more than ever before…we have the weakest coach and one of the most inexperienced coaching teams in every competition we enter. I am sorry to bang on about this conclusion but it matters and explains our season.

Some of us stumble upon areas where we stumble upon a mega dose of natural talent. It happens…I suggest Maradona, Mozart and Matt le Tissier! Yet it is also very rare. Especially in coaching, where the tactical must marry the management of men of varied natures, the attitude must be strong enough for the squad to lean upon when times get rough, the pressures to succeed with millions demanding glory and entertainment a staggering added facet of the role.

(for those who have never heard of Matt Le Tissier…he was one of the most obscure and special of players, now unheard of in the modern game, a one club legend. His dalliance with the England squad is no indication of the incredible natural talent he displayed during his lengthy career with the Saints. A player who simply had it all, yet could never be relied upon to run, to train hard, to do anything other than put the ball in the net from anywhere on the field, against any opponent. Many say he wasted his talent, but I have long felt he achieved everything he wanted, and remains one of the most decent chaps and gifted footballers I have ever seen play>>>

ahhh….I miss the 90s…and remain blessed to have been a part of that bizarre tumult in the motherland, where anything and everything was possible, at any hour of day or night, the last true melting pot of cultural churning and incredible art and existence abounding in every direction all at once of the Western world, since the 60s and 70s…never to be repeated and I am still stuck there, hence why I look very much in the least 42, though dress like a 19 year old from that era…)

Our form has been poor most of the season, with players often looking lost, out of position, static, seeming to be in two minds and in between instinct and direction from the coaching field.

Pirlo, as with Ciro Ferrara, does not strike me as a man naturally able to transmit energy and enthusiasm to a squad of players – this lack of hunger he speaks of confirms this is the case but he appears to be absolving himself of any responsibility. We under-perform in most games and I do not agree at all that we have a squad where it should be in the league…and where we ended up in European competition as soon as the pressure amped up, even against hardly elite opponents.

More worrying, common signs I see suggest poor coaching not poor players – we see international standard members of the squad often outplayed by opponents nowhere near their long proven calibre. This smacks of the wrong system, the wrong selection, a lack of chemistry flowing between the ranks, muddled morale.

I do not see Pirlo making any serious adjustments to the system based on his thesis, which doesn’t get the best, or even anywhere near the sum of our parts, translated to performances. Absent of Juan Cuadrado or a barnstorming charge by Chiesa, there is little creativity in the final third. We make less runs to break the lines than I can ever recall, though perhaps this has been growing into the side since we picked up Ronaldo and had tactical systems shoe-horned around aiming to find him in goalscoring positions. And yet, when we have assuredly one of the strongest headers in the game, in history, Pirlo continues to play his faltering system which only focuses on crossing when Juan is included. Which becomes predictable for more experienced coaches to set up to thwart.

Pirlo makes like for like substitutions. And some say Dybala would have made a difference and he probably would, yet the reality is that he would play in that tucked in AM position, support the wide man role, far away from goal and scrapping too deep. Or share the CF role with Morata, which may suit him, but I suspect the coach prefers the spaniard who can far more naturally use his movement to draw defenders away for Ronaldo to then make use of the space.

Morata is also far more capable in the air (another weapon we are making very poor use of) and when playing with his back to goal to link the play. All of which leads to Dybala not fitting comfortably into our current ‘system’. His fault or a failure of Pirlo to implement the MVP of last season??

If a system of coaching and tactics are not working, after months of the same disfunctional muddle, it is unsurprising to see morale dropping. Yet of course, much of this is on the players in turn. They are all getting very well paid, and the least we can ask of them is to give their all in every game. We are not seeing or feeling this…

Main question is where do we go from here…not who to blame. Absent of support, as in a greatly more experienced at a high level assistant and more of the same within his coaching set-up, the direction of travel will likely continue – we will proceed to look like a 3rd-6th area serie a side. Be out-coached in any games against more wily managers for a few years, until/unless Pirlo can learn the basics he simply does not yet grasp or show any competency with producing. I suspect we will improve by replacing Ramsey/Rabiot with Locatelli. As will be the case if we manage to sign a specialist LB and RB, where we are weak – I say this because Juan is the only wide defender who ever shows potency down the whole flank. And the colombian is not the best defensively.

Yes, there are serious issues with the squad, if we are talking about the gap between our squad and the elite of City and Munich, which has to be where we are aiming. To discuss these issues requires a lengthy piece beyond the scope of this ramshackle overview of our current state of dismay. Suffice to say for now, that we need better/more mentally strong players for CM, LB and RB primarily. Yet also we must bring in some natural born leaders. Players whose heads never drop, who fight for every ball, who leave the field as deflated to accept the final whistle, the end of combat, whether we are winning or losing. We lack players of this calibre, and it may well be more important than the perception of our deficit of talent in key positions.

Paratici has been poor on the recruitment front, aiming for gilded names and the publicity and marketing they bring, more than showing any competence in building a squad of the right types of players, not just the skill levels and specialist areas of technique, but the mentality. I had hoped he would be replaced last Summer. I hope the same for this coming end of season period. Likely forlorn but we have tried changing coach, a dangerous choice that has turned out awfully. Next area to try changing is the directors and coaching staff who work with Pirlo.

And again I ask, what does Nedved do??? Other than now and then plead with his old pal Raiola for help? Or do his bidding…

We have been horrible to watch most the season, somehow worse than even under Sarri…yet still I wouldn’t be surprised to find us finish 2nd or 3rd. As it really does seem more difficult to go lower. For we have too much individual strength in key positions which even in a misfiring, disjointed side is likely to see us through…to in the least CL qualification. Which is probably or assuredly enough to keep Pirlo in his job.

To be rightfully beaten by a better organised Benevento who were missing their two key players and bereft of victory for many games was galling, but sums up our season. We are going so very wrong, and this spiral downwards may still have further to sink before we find something to relight the fire.

Pippo Inzaghi offers a reference point of sorts for a player of superb achievement on the field who is still now, after many years in various roles, developing his coaching style and credentials.

Starting with the AC Milan primavera in 2012, where he remained for two years, he was then thrust into coaching the senior side in 2014. Dismissed at the end of that campaign, he then found his next role as first team coach in 2016 with lega pro side Venezia, earning promotion to Serie B as champions, winning the coppa italia liga pro in the same campaign. Following this achievement up with a commendable 5th place finish in the second tier, narrowly missing out on promotion to the top flight in the play-offs. This earned him a move to Serie A side Bologna for the 18/19 campaign, where a paltry 2 wins from 21 games saw him dismissed…In 2019, he found himself managing Serie B side Benevento. Winning the league in glorious fashion, with 7 games to spare…

Five sides coached, four of them senior squads, in six years. Silverware and promotion won. Dismal time on his first entry into the top flight, hard earned, he obviously learned from the failure, taking Benevento up so convincingly the next season. And currently, with a Serie B budget, he is performing close to miracles by keeping the dream alive of consolidating their status in the top flight.

Inzaghi is a coach who has shown steel, found success, experienced failure, and remains still learning, still developing. It can come as no surprise that he can set up his side to earn a merited victory away to a Juventus side who have players earning individually, as much as the squad of Benevento earns collectively…when his experience is hugely superior to that of Pirlo.

It makes no sense having superstars like Ronaldo and De Ligt if we are becoming a training project for a fledging coach, on the assumption that at some stage he will become a top level, or even decent manager. There is zero guarantee that we can simply play a waiting game. And a club of our stature cannot absorb failure, on the slim hope that it all will come right at some point. Top players will already be less likely to join us on reasonable wages with out current position as unable to show any serious threat to win domestic titles, let alone the top honours. Sponsorship deals will not remain as hefty, if our standing in the game continues to falter.

I suspect John Elkann is looking mainly at the CL qualification, from a financial perspective, as he considers the deteriorating situation of one of the company assets. Will he inject more money to pile up the pressure and give his cousin another season to improve our fortunes both on and off the field?

Paratici continues to tow the party line with his statements of the project remaining prepared for, even expected. Yet what is the project?

The branding of the club must be negatively impacted by our failures, our performances, the spat with Conte and at some stage this may or will impact sponsorship revenue and our recruitment aspirations and needs.

I felt we were a shambles of a club through the chaos of Sarri’s departure, who we are still paying, after paying off Max to take a sabbatical…This in itself confirms that the stewardship of the club remains in disarray.

My own hopes revolve around ending the season on a more positive, stable note. Ideally, with Pirlo changing the tactical focus to suit more of the players and finding this nourishing the morale and hunger, the side pulling together to provide a flurry of performances which make us all feel the worst is behind us. Leading into the Summer with renewed hope, optimism, a growing suggestion, tentative confirmation, that this period of transition has some light at the end of the tunnel…

Whilst my cynicism prevails, my support for the club is unwavering.

forza juve

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