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Verona 1-1 Juventus


I am unsurprised to find the press asking more questions of Pirlo’s selection and system. They echo the bother a fair few of us have held since the season begun. Close to every game we have seen players placed in unnatural roles, to suit the coach’s ideas, even when we have a full squad to choose from. And I found myself bemused to a brief chuckle late on when watching the match replay just now…

Struggling to even hold onto the draw as the home side were coming upon us, Pirlo finally in the 85th minute brought a RB onto the field. If he was confident that Di Pardo could do a job there when we were under the kosh, he was confident that he could do a job there from the start, which would have at least offered some balance at the back and out wide. Sandro, a LB, two CBs and Di Pardo, a RB.

Pirlo explained in his volatile post game press conference that Chiesa was an attacking winger and I couldn’t agree more but the question there is why then play Chiesa, an attacking winger often as a LM or RM or RWB, barely ever as an attacking winger?

It wasn’t Kulu who played often as a CF last season, it was Chiesa. So why the devil is Kulu playing as a CF? Yes, we had no Morata, no Dybala, so why not play Chiesa there? In the least it would keep him in the final third, where he is at his best. Instead, we play him on the right of midfield, with no RB behind him…which instantly diminishes his capacity to play as an attacking winger.

The midfield is another issue as we have no natural holding player. This is not Bentancur’s natural role. He is a box to box specialist, capable of helping out deep, but when restricted to this, and needed to drop deep constantly, we don’t see the best of him moving the ball forward. He is also never comfortable playing facing our own goal when he cannot see what is behind him. Yet we do have a young talent, who has shown in a brief sample size, that he can play in that role, as a regista of sorts. I say of sorts, as his main game has been playing more as an AM. Still, if Pirlo wants to be brave, why not play Fagioli as the regista, and put Bentancur in his more comfortable shuttling CMR role and Mckennie at CML box to box???

What position was Rabiot playing? And Ramsey? Then Mckennie late on?

This game was not some one-off poor showing due to the absence of key players. It was the usual way we play, the same system. Which looks better with better players but has rarely, if ever, looked like its working well for the side from top to bottom. In fact, the only game where I felt the whole side played cohesively was in the home tie against Inter in the 2nd leg of the coppa italia.

We were poor in the first 45 minutes. Very little cohesion, struggling to string any passes together in the opposing half, sluggish on the ball. I suppose it is worth noting that we emerged for the second period with the wind in our sails, and looked lively, finally playing on the front foot, but this did not last long.

Were it not for two splendid saves from Tek, we would have lost the match. Even the goal we scored was quite soft, with barely any other solid openings carved out over the entirety of the game.

I am always more interested in performances than results. Understanding that Pirlo has zero experience as a coach, the club should have made his appointment conditional upon bringing in to work alongside him at least 1 or 2 highly experienced coaching staff. To offer something similar to what Mike Phelan offers Ole at United. For some reason I cannot fathom, the directors agreed for Pirlo to create his coaching team with relatively inexperienced staff. As I have mentioned previously, my fear is that due to this mega promotion to Juventus, none of them have the bottle to challenge Pirlo. They owe him their newfound position and will not repay this by undermining him.

Our performances have been poor most the season. The results, in the league, have also been poor, demonstrably so, given we are enduring the worst serie a campaign since Del Neri, who was working with a vastly inferior squad. We are nowhere near where we should be and whilst I agree that we have an unbalanced selection of CMs, still I believe we are miles off the sum of our parts. Which is not helped at all by the coach regularly putting players out of position.

We close to always look weaker than we should, no matter what side Pirlo selects. More players look worse (compared to last season) than better. Which is an unavoidable condemnation of the coaching.

Verona are no mugs, yet neither did they play particularly well. And it was Juve who were more fortunate to escape with a point. Even with our injuries, we were still able to deploy a side brimming with internationals in every position. Yet of those starting, only Bentancur and Sandro looked close to comfortable in their roles other than of course the goal conceded, when the LB made CB hadn’t seen the chap behind him.

Our form is of a side set to finish between 3rd and 6th. Though I suspect with some of those set to return, we will finish closer to 3rd, maybe even get 2nd. Which would be a bare minimum expected of this squad and Pirlo, though still depressing.

Only positive I can take from Juve presently is that more professional and non professional commentators are finding issue with Pirlo’s tactics and selection. A sense of solidarity in the cynicism! I am also glad to find less people talking of this as a transition period, intimating that the project is working as well as can be expected, promising signs are steady and it will all come right soon. As there is zero evidence to support this.

Still, we support the club through the best and worst of times, so onwards, ever onwards…

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