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This article was written by our new writer and Serie A expert, Dani Turcios.
“Characteristics of three midfielders in a midfield of three” Titled the thesis of Massimiliano Allegri on July 7, 2005 to get his degree as a manager in Coverciano. Such formation that he excelled with at Cagliari, Milan and in his first year at Juventus. A tactical move that, in my opinion, could have changed the course of the painful defeat in Cardiff, and the most recent 0-3 suffered at the Allianz Stadium last Tuesday against Real Madrid once again.
When we talk about Allegri in the bianconero community, the subject goes beyond one of the most successful technicians in the glorious history of Juventus, there is usually a debate. Despite of his great record with the club of Vinovo, most fans have great dissatisfaction with the managerial skills of the coach from Livorno. Unfair, many would say, considering everything he has achieved. But football is like life: sometimes it does not matter how many times you have done well; sadly, you’re remembered by the few times you fail. His stubbornness and arrogance while managing the team is something that the bianconero fans have never been able to digest. These are the same characteristics that describe “Max” as a person since childhood.
“I was a quiet and calm boy, and I always hated school, my mother used to say ‘Massi! You cannot miss classes and exams! You must learn about Napoleon!’ At fourteen I hated it! I still do! I remember sitting in class one day, the teacher was angry at me for something I had done that day, and I had an epiphany; I said to myself: ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to be a great student. But I might become a great director’” Such a phrase is forever embedded in his life.
Being a player, in his debut, the sports director, Italo Allodi, described him as “A very talented midfielder, but with a somewhat obnoxious character”. A hard-headed person, if we avoid being too explicit. A conservative midfielder at the beginning of his career to later become a more enthusiastic one, he always had differences with his coaches. Not for the lack of playing time, but as a player he already had a clear idea of what the team should play as he envisioned it in his mind. He began his professional career at Cuoipelli of Santa Croce sull’Arno. Then he moved to Livorno, his hometown team and in 1989 he made his Serie A debut with Pisa playing against Milan. In 1991 he was noticed by Pierpaolo Marino who wanted him at all costs in his Pescara, where he met Giovanni Galeone. With Pescara he won the promotion to Serie A and played an extraordinary season scoring 12 goals in 31 games. After the experience in Pescara he moved to Cagliari, then to Perugia and then to Padua. In the 1997-1998 season he returned to Serie A playing for Napoli. He concluded his career with Aglianese.
As a coach, he explained how he rejected his first offer to manage Pistoiese because they demanded him to go to school for a month, five hours a day, to obtain his coaching license. He rather chose to study in Coverciano, where after fifteen days and a thesis, he could obtain it. He debuted in 2003 on the bench of the Aglianico. Then he passed to la Spal, Grosseto (twice), Lecco and Sassuolo who he helped promote from the C1 division. Afterwards, Cellino took him to Cagliari making where he made his Serie A debut, winning the Golden Bench award as the best coach in 2009 while gaining praise in the Sardegna club for the style of play exposed. From 2010 to 2014 he sat on the bench of Milan winning the Italian Supercup in 2011 and a Scudetto; he was sacked after bad results. Something to highlight is that Allegri had problems in the locker room with several players, besides that Milan’s owner at that time, Silvio Berlusconi, began to disarm the team selling important players like Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to PSG to fix their financial problems. Massimiliano tried at all costs to rejuvenate a team having little support from the administration. He was fired after a loss against Sassuolo where Domenico Berardi scored four goals against his team. Since 2014 he has been managing Juventus, winning three consecutive championships and three Coppa Italia, one SuperCoppa and playing two Champions League finals. Two best manager awards and the national prize Enzo Bearzot in 2015.
His arrival in Turin was anything but welcoming, replacing a bianconeri idol like Antonio Conte and having his not-so-pleasant moments with the Juventinos in the past. After almost four years, he has become one of the most successful tacticians in the club, but something that has failed to win is the heart of most of the Juventinos. A manager labeled as “cowardly” and “mediocre” by many. Perhaps the way he handles himself outside the field is not the most likable. In modern football, the attitude both on and off the pitch is something that matters, and Allegri was never that type of coach who has the charisma with his players or the fans. He is a principal, a director, a commander. A personality totally opposed to that of Conte who maintained a deep connection with all his players and the fans. I consider that despite surpassing Antonio in results and stats, this is at the core of the hatred against Allegri.
On the pitch, he says, “you fans and journalists talk about the 3-5-2, 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, for me all this is irrelevant, since on the field a 4-5-1 offensively can easily turn into a 4-2-4; movements on the field and tactics always vary while the game is at play” Praised many times for being an Italian tactician who sometimes shows a “not very Italian” attitude since his teams hold technical attributes above all. That has little matter to many that do not forget the bad image of the painful losses in Munich in 2016, in the final in Cardiff and in the last game against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Week after week it’s a shower of criticism towards Max for the predictable and petty game sometimes exposed according to many, despite wanting to implement an opposite idea.
Silence in the Allianz Stadium, a bitter face in the coach of Livorno which expresses his impotence and rage. The ghosts of Cardiff return to Turin, a three to zero that does do justice to what was exposed on the pitch, and once again, Allegri collides with the same wall that prevents him from entering history. As a fan of “Max”, this time I blame him as I did Cardiff for not learning from his errors. He played into Real Madrid’s mental game by wanting to play at equal terms against them. Next ninety minutes at Wednesday in Madrid represent much more than just turning back an adverse result; the future of the bianconeri is at hand, including that of the coach. And despite that it happened more than 10 years ago, the ghosts of Calciopoli are still wandering in Italy, where year after year they watch how the more popular and financially profitable leagues have taken away the lead role in world football, a throne that was theirs in the past.
The challenges that Juventus fave in world football, not only does it represent the glory of the club, but the one of a whole nation that lived glorious times over ten years ago. The future is not encouraging, the pressure increases, and much is on the shoulders of one of the most unfairly criticized managers in the boot shaped country. As fans of the Serie A, we look forward to the return of our football to the top, which is so close and yet so far. A win is only tied with the hope that against almost impossible feats in the past, “Massi” exposed his managerial expertise and has amazed the whole world
An anecdote from ’92 states how Allegri left his future wife just two days before the wedding. A metaphor that perfectly fits in that step that he’s still yet to take in Europe, to finally be able to marry European glory because like in life, in football nobody remembers those who “almost” reach glory–only the winners are remembered. Max, you represent much more than Juventus, because if you overcome your few limitations, your fears, your barriers, you not only win personally, you not only wash yourself from the image of the most hated manager in Turin, but you will win for all of Italy.
A sleeping giant, who wants to be reborn.