Why did Allegri struggle with Juve’s return? – Ghana latest football news, live scores, results
Max Allegri led Juventus between 2014 and 2019, when they won five straight Serie A titles
When Max Allegri returned to Juventus this summer, everyone in Turin expected his arrival to coincide with an immediate return to the winning ways of his first trophy-laden period at the head of the club.
Five consecutive Serie A titles, not to mention several Italian Cups and Super Cups, had made Allegri one of Europe’s most admired managers. His departure in 2019, by mutual agreement, was like the natural end of a cycle.
His return was essentially an admission that the club had lost the two years since his departure. The boardroom’s hope was that he would reinvigorate a club whose stranglehold on the Serie A title finally ended last season after nine straight league wins.
But so far there hasn’t been a fairytale comeback.
A week ago, Juve were in the relegation zone, winless after four games and facing a game against Spezia which Allegri described as a “relegation six pointers”.
Seven days and two consecutive wins later, Juve are at least in the top half of the table and face Champions League holders Chelsea in better shape than they could have been on Wednesday.
Why did Allegri struggle to make an instant impact?
Contrary to what he took in in 2014 after Antonio Conte led Juve to three straight Serie A titles, Allegri now has some rebuilding work to do.
Maurizio Sarri may have won the title in his only season in charge, but his nomination as Allegri’s successor in 2019 was far from a success, failing to convince key players Giorgio Chiellini and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Andrea Pirlo’s season in charge in 2020-21 was even worse. Juve finished in a disastrous fourth.
One of Allegri’s biggest challenges in overhauling the squad is coping with Ronaldo’s loss to Manchester United, whose constant stream of goals masked the need for change in the squad.
The once overriding defense is no longer impenetrable. Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli are long gone. Leonardo Bonucci and Chiellini, although they have been shown to be more than reliable, need a break more often than in the past.
Matthijs de Ligt has yet to live up to his potential and has failed to show the level of performance that prompted Juve to pay £ 67.5million to sign him from Ajax.
“Since he arrived, you’ve all been talking about a future Ballon d’Or [winner]”Said Allegri. We all need to keep our cool, he has important qualities but he needs to develop.”
This defense vulnerability is corroborated by some striking statistics. The 10 goals they’ve conceded in their first six league games is more than in any season since the late 1980s. And they’ve conceded at least once in each of their 20s. last league games, which they hadn’t done for over 60 years.
Juve’s ability to pass from Ronaldo has not been helped by injuries from key forward duo Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala. Morata left the pitch against Sampdoria on Sunday, while a shaken Dybala entered the locker room in tears during the game. Neither will be presented until the October international break.
They are the co-top scorers of their team, so their absence will be felt.
The midfielder is not performing well either. Adrien Rabiot should, according to Allegri, “shoot 30 times per game and blow the ball into the net, but he continues to shoot over the bar”.
Manuel Locatelli, who is part of the triumphant Italian squad for Euro 2020, will have an increasing role to play after his summer arrival from Sassuolo.
In short, solidity has disappeared at the back, creativity has been lacking in midfield and the front line is a building site.
Paulo Dybala missed 20 games with injury last season and faces another sidelined period Encouraging signs are emerging
“And they want to play for Juve!” Allegri shouted in annoyance as he left the pitch after a 1-1 draw with AC Milan on September 19.
The victories over middle distance Spezia and Sampdoria since then can only offer so much encouragement, but there are reasons to suggest that Juventus can properly turn a corner.
They have a lot of young talents and the likes of De Ligt (22), Dejan Kulusevski (21) and Chiesa (23) can all have a much bigger impact. All three were only on the bench for this match with Milan.
They have yet to prove that they have what it takes to wear a Bianconeri shirt – but no one doubts the quality is there. The same can be said for Moise Kean, who returned from Everton on a two-year loan that will become a permanent £ 24million deal.
Knowing that his rebuilding had to start with the basics, Allegri had set up a pragmatic 4-4-2 formation, with Juve defending in depth.
On Sunday he went for a more offensive 4-2-3-1, with Locatelli linked to Dybala, who also benefited from the support of Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi on either side.
Will the improvements of the past week be enough to trouble reigning European champions Thomas Tuchel? Maybe, but it’s more likely that this game has come too soon for a team whose manager is mired in a process of identity renewal, on the pitch and in the minds of their players.