The blundering Fish shares more than a passing resemblance to Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta – the man most responsible for the Bianconeri’s disastrous start to 2015-16 which sees them languishing in 12th place with just 12 points and 11 goals from 10 games.
For a club that has utterly dominated the Italian championship for the past four years and reached the Champions League final only four months ago, it is an incredible implosion but one that could have been predicted following Marotta’s reckless transfer market.
Sanctioning the sale of three world-class players all in one window in Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal was madness.
A team that needs to be renewed should always be allowed to evolve slowly to smoothen the transition, it should never be revolutionised. We saw how Massimiliano Allegri’s AC Milan side collapsed after the sale of their two best players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.
We also saw what happened to Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson’s ageing squad was completely dismantled upon his retirement a year later.
While Tevez was always going to return to his beloved Boca Juniors for family reasons, and a declining, deteriorating Vidal was perhaps smart business at €37m plus bonuses, Pirlo may have stayed had he received assurances of his first team status.
What is certain is that all three experienced figures should not have been allowed to leave at the same time.
“Certainly the departures of Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez are weighing heavily and the substitutes identified on the market by the leaders of the club have not been of the level to fill the void left by these three great champions,” ex-Juventus star and 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi told Corriere dello Sport on Friday.
Juventus had a budget of over €120 million to fill the void – it has been spent horrendously. A third of the total was used on a 21-year-old whose contract at Palermo was due to expire at the end of the season (€26m was sanctioned on Alex Sandro, who was also in his last year at Porto) and who had only impressed for half a season in Serie A.
Paulo Dybala is undoubtedly a special talent and has all the ability to become a special player for Juve, but he is still developing and isn’t physically ready to carry the team on his shoulders like his countryman Tevez did.
Almost €40m combined was blown on two more strikers in Mario Mandzukic and Simone Zaza. There is a reason Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was desperate to offload the former – he hadn’t scored a goal for the club since February. As for the Italian, he was also signed despite a difficult season for little Sassuolo where he went three months without a goal in 2015.
Both Mandzukic and Zaza have looked out of their depth in Turin – with fans regularly joking about which of the clumsy pair has the heaviest first touch. The Croatian has had just eight shots in seven matches.
More money was squandered further down the pitch. Marotta spent months searching for a top-class attacking midfielder but typically failed in closing a deal for an established star.
He haggled over pennies with Schalke and ended up losing Julian Draxler to Wolfsburg. He then made matters worse by paying up to €13m for Inter reserve Hernanes, whom he has even publicly admitted “is not a champion”.
Only the capture of Sami Khedira on a free and Juan Cuadrado on loan from Chelsea were shrewd acquisitions. If the German stays fit, he will be an important figure. But Khedira is no Pirlo.
He can win the midfield but he can’t win the game. And Cuadrado is no Tevez. He has plenty of style, but not so much substance.
Juventus have controlled the majority of their matches this season. Only away at Roma on matchday two were they outplayed. But without the creativity of Pirlo and Tevez, they have struggled horribly to make chances against deep-lying defences.
It is Marotta’s failure to replace this creativity and cunning that has been Juventus’ true downfall.
Paul Pogba was handed the iconic No.10 shirt and given the responsibility of being Juventus’s leader post-Tevez and Pirlo but he has floundered so far. He has scored one goal – a penalty – and delivered just one assist in Serie A.
The Frenchman is a phenomenal all-round midfielder but he is not a playmaker and he is struggling to produce the individual magic that every great team needs from their star player.
Allegri’s constant tinkering with tactics and personnel has not helped Pogba, though, or Juventus as a whole.
This season he has started with four different formations in 10 Serie A matches – the 4-3-1-2, 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 – regularly changing the system during games.
This tactical flexibility was crucial in Juve’s success last term, but there has been no method behind the madness this time around and all it has done is confuse a new team that needs time to gel.
After beating Atalanta with a 4-3-1-2 last Sunday, Allegri inexplicably switched to a 3-5-2 as 10-man Juve lost at Sassuolo on Wednesday.
The coach, who will be under huge pressure if he doesn’t win Saturday’s derby versus Torino, has rotated his four forwards on a weekly basis and it is no surprise that only Dybala has scored more than one Serie A goal.
Allegri has made more than his fair share of team selection blunders. Employing the much-maligned Simone Padoin at full-back against the league’s in-form player, Lorenzo Insigne, was only ever going to end in disaster as the winger led Napoli to victory at San Paolo.
Keeping Khedira on the bench versus Sassuolo after fellow midfielder Claudio Marchisio had already pulled out with flu was unwise, too.
Allegri has bemoaned the fact that Juventus have faced an injury crisis this season – with 14 muscular problems already by November.
However, the coach and his superiors must accept some responsibility for this. “The athletic preparation was wrong,” sniped another Juve legend Marco Tardelli. Juventus finished the previous season later than usual due to the Champions League final on June 6, but Allegri had his squad back in training early to be in shape for the meaningless Italian Supercup against Lazio.
Worse still, he ordered the squad’s pre-season training camp to be held in the summer heat of Vinovo rather than in the cooler mountains as is Italian tradition. This all contributed to the spate of injuries.
It must be recognised that the Gods have not smiled on the Old Lady. She took just two points from the games against Udinese, Frosinone, Chievo and Sassuolo, despite giving up only six shots on target in total from those matches. Gianluigi Buffon has conceded with his first shot in five games so far.
Even against Roma, television replays showed that Miralem Pjanic only opened the scoring because the distance between his free kick and the wall was 12 yards rather than the regulatory 10.
“The Bianconeri have changed a lot, and have also been very unlucky. In their games against Udinese, Chievo and Frosinone, they failed to finish many chances,” former Juventus coach Gigi Del Neri told Goal last week. “Still, I think that Juventus will be able to re-enter the race for the title.”
There are not many people who share Del Neri’s opinion. Most fans would gladly sign right now for third place and Champions League qualification. As for retaining the Scudetto, it would take a wind change of hurricane proportions for Juventus to catch Roma.
Source: Source: Goal