(NB – This was submitted prior to the start of the season, yet still holds value!)
We have been here too many times lately, it’s been season after season since Max Allegris departure, too many seasons where we were ecstatic at our new manager and couldn’t wait for the season to start! only to end the campaign barely getting by as a team and with great angst and hate towards the manager, once hailed our new hero. Every season for far too long now we have been let down, first came Sarri then came Pirlo … ok so just two seasons, but still it feels like a lot! A chain smoking banker who rivalled us at our best some odd years ago came to the club promising heavy metal football, yet we heard no drums, no electrifying guitar riffs, no screeching raspy vocals, no scream vocals … Nothing! The music that Juve produced under Sarri was that of a cat scratching sheet metal, Yea! Not exactly the Metal we wanted to hear.
Then came Pirlo, a Disney fairytale that didn’t end well, a man who tried to re-invent the modern game. Pirlo tried to bring us something along the lines of Metalcore
(that heavy metal sound with rap vocals) a fusion of two otherwise polarizing sounds, a fusion that brings the hip hop heads and the rockers together, this is some real going to war music! Music that gets you high on your own adrenaline; but instead Pirlo gave us something reminiscent of mumble rap, a bunch of jargon and half assed wordplay mumbled about over crappy club beats, one really needs to be high to enjoy that stuff, just like one needed to be high to enjoy a Football game under Pirlo on a sunday morning.
Enter the now and we have Max, an oldy but goody, someone who does not know a thing about playing metal, but has mastered the art of classical music, proven in its roots, true to the italian game, yet awfully boring to the masses. Some say Max has to have studied attacking football, and has no choice but to implement some in the modern game, and i don’t know, maybe we get a beautiful mix of violin and some metal, we can end up sounding like Apocalyptica,
or something more atmospheric like Eldamar.
That said this season promises to be the one! The season where we are ecstatic to have a new coach, and can perhaps just as eagerly end the season with him, eagerly anticipating the next.
While we excitedly await Sunday’s game though, we can look back and say that while the Sarri and Pirlo eras were abject failures, not all was doom and gloom. Both eras had player development that built on top of Allegri, or in spite of. Let’s start with Sarri, while his season was arguably the worst between himself and pirlo’s (yes despite winning the scudetto), the team looked it’s most disjointed, and most painful to watch in this season; however this was the season where Dybala earned the player of the tournament award and where he proved that He (not Cristiano Ronaldo) could carry Juve, and that he was ready to be the modern playing Juve legend. It didn’t end there though, Juan Cuadrado and Bentancur both started morphing into great talents during the end of Allegri, but continued the evolution under Sarri hitting new peaks! Dybala, Bentancur and Cuardado were beacons of light in Juve’s darkest hour. Players we already had who excelled to new lengths, dwarfing anything any of the then new recruits, had to offer (Rabiot, Ramsey, Danilo). Then came Pirlo, While he failed to win the scudetto, and while he showed immense stubbornness and lack of tactical flexibility, Juve were, at least for short periods, in bursts, easier on the eye to watch in odd moments of the game. Unfortunately Dybala suffered a nearly season long injury, and he used Bentancur out of position, this stalling (hopefully not reverting) both of their progress gained under Sarri. However! One player continued his great ascend into being one of Juve’s most trusted mercenaries at RWB and that is Cuadrado, who has now gained “untouchable” status and brought a new attacking threat lost from the void left by Joao Cancelo. Pirlo for all his faults tactically, philosophically and for all his failure in the league table and on the pitch, Did manage to improve Juventus greatly. Of course the games were muddled and hard to watch, but he did strengthen the squad immensely, forming a perfect spine for Allegri. I fumed watching Pirlo at the helm, but acknowledge that he did leave his mark on Juve, and some of it was good!
- In a deal from nowhere, he instructed Paratici to buy Chiesa. Chiesa, who at the time felt like a foolish buy! Here comes a RW we did not need as Kulusevski had already been groomed for the role, and had just finished winning the “Young player of the tournament” award with Parma. Surprisingly however, Kulusevski became an utter flop of the season, and Chiesa a flame that burned ever so bright! Chiesa in his first season managed to carry Juventus on several occasions and filled the void left by an Injured Dybala. Again Cristiano Ronaldo had the spotlight stolen, and Juve garnished a new Superstar!
Fast Forward to the Euros, and Chiesa with Italy has now turned into the new Mohamed Salah, the new winger every club would die to have and desperately wants, The most exciting youthful player to grace the game, just as Ronaldo and Messi seem to be dying flames and bowing out.
- Weston McKennie, This is another deal that no one knew about until it was finalized, Mc Kennie gave us a breakout season, for the first half of the season he shone bright, and gave us a glimpse of what a star he can be with a good guiding hand. I can only see him continuing to grow with Allegri and for the USA National Team. Just seeing how he played for Shalke04 and seeing the player he has become, Pirlo deserves all the credit here.
- Enter Danilo: Danilo was a recruit from the Sarri season in a foolish trade with Man City for Cancelo. While he struggled in his first year under Sarri as we cried seeing Cancelo do great things at City that season, while Danilo for us was as irregular as he had been for City, we were left weeping! Under pirlo things changed drastically though. Pirlo morphed Danilo into a star at RB, finally we have a reliable defender who can also shoot from range and pass from deep, so much so that we discovered he is also a good option at DM.
So under Pirlo we had continued growth: Cuadrado. An invisible player suddenly peacocking: Danilo. And two new stars to carry us forward: Chiesa and McKennie. Pirlo may have been axed, but his legacy in the club still lives on. Despite his horrid season, he still has the love of many Juventini who forgive him, and he still left an imprint in this squad that will continue to grow and help us achieve greatness!
For you see, Allegri is no Slouch! Cuadrado and Danilo I can see them keep their form and even improve under Allegri, Chiesa and McKennie can only grow more under Allegri, and Dybala and Bentancur will SURELY return to the Sarri era level of play, and surpass the Sarri form under Allegri, this is certain because both Bentancur and Dybala have worked under Allegri and began their ascent then. As for Break out Stars Allegri has Several Contenders!
- Ramsey: recruited under the Sarri Era, and a huge flop till now (2 years running). Ramsey has been offered around like a shitty used car you no longer want, without any takers. We are stuck with him for at least another season. Ramsey once was a feared name in the starting Xi in Arsenal despite several injury interruptions. Ramsey will be hoping he can return to that level of play, all while doing it from a new position as a Regista/DM. Allegri experimented with Ramsey at DM in friendlies and has publicly touted him in this new role to the media. This may be a master stroke from Allegri as Ramsey possess the qualities of a good DM (Can read the game, can give clinical long passes), Ramsey will also know that this may very well be his last chance at Juve, and if he fails here, now, his future lies in a second rate mid table English club, or in the MLS … The Horror! For this reason, I think Ramsey has the potential to bust a Danilo and go from Zero to Hero this season.
- McKennie: recruited under Pirlo, was in fine form for the first half of last season and looked to be a breakout star, however he fell short in the second half of the season with Pirlo’s tactical experiments. McKennie will hope to hit the ground running again this season and has all the tools and traits to be our greatest box to box- attacking midfielder yet! Better than Vidal ever was for us! McKennie’s time at Juve has also helped the player make strides in the USMNT scoring in the Copa Oro final against Mexico and having the manager Gregg Berhalter constantly hail him. Mc Kennie has become as important if not more important to the USMNT as Pulisic is. And seeing how before Juve he was hardly on anyone’s radar, it speaks volumes of his massive growth potential
- Kiao Jorge: the Brazilian Wonder kid just now recruited. Kiao is a superb up and coming talent, rarely do “the next Neymars, the next Messi’s, the next Ronaldo’s” ever pan out. No one ever referred to Cristiano Ronaldo as “the next Kaka” or Messi as “The next Ronaldinho” when they were coming through the ranks. Call me a heathen, but I don’t believe in these reincarnations of established stars. As matter of fact I find it disrespectful for each player is his own player, and has his own skill and influence that allow for moments of magic dazzling all fans, and can single handedly control games and take them by the scruff of the neck. Kiao seems to be that player! If anything I think the media has it all wrong and he isnt “the next Neymar” but more so “the next Firmino” and while Firmino is a good player he does not possess that magic, and that special something, to single handedly change games in a couple of minutes. I think Kiao can do what Firmino does for Liverpool but a lot better! He has that same ability to create space, and lure defenders, he appears to be a superior dribbler, and he appears to be more clinical with a greater aerial ability. I sincerely do think Kiao is something special, and I will call it now! In the second half of the season, Kiao will be ahead of Morata in the pecking Order, Mark my words!
Who do you think will be the breakout Juve star this season? Agree with my three picks? Or perhaps you’d rather back an old gun? Let us know in the comments below! Fino All Fine! It’s not just a slogan, these words are the essence of what makes the club and our culture, these words forever tattooed in our hearts, I think these players live by Fino alla Fine, and refuse to give up on Ramsey, with spending his own money on hiring fitness coaches and dieticians, he has earned my respect as someone who really wants to make it work at juve, and someone who will not easily fade away. We need more players like that and this is why he is my #1 pick for breakout player of the season, and someone who will prove all the haters wrong. I am glad he is staying with us, and wish the whole squad the best of luck in their individual development.
(Piece contributed by Gerry Quinn)