It’s crisis time at Juventus.
By which we mean they lost at the weekend (2-1 to Juventus), their second defeat in the last three and now means they’re no longer top of Serie A.
Antonio Conte’s Inter have moved ahead of them on goal difference, but this has led to suggestions that Maurizio Sarri could be dismissed, despite only being appointed in the summer with the loose idea that this would be a long-term project, to change the way Juventus play.
So is this just an overreaction by some hysterical types, or could Sarri genuinely get the boot? We asked James Horncastle on this week’s European edition of the Totally Football Show.
“It’s still premature, even though some of Sarri’s comments in the media have not been ‘befitting’ of a Juventus manager: like when he said after the Napoli game that “if we’re going to lose to anyone, I’d like to lose to them.” That didn’t go down particularly well.
“There’s a sense that it was a big gamble to replace Allegri in the summer, particularly with Sarri. It’s similar to the Mafreidi episode [which we did a Golazzo on] in that he’s so different to other managers they’ve had success with in the past.”
One of the problems is that Juventus now appear to be caught between two approaches, meaning that getting rid of Sarri would not provide an obvious and complete answer.
“You can tell now that this is no longer Allegri’s team, in that the mentality they have when it comes to dropping off, defending deep, being sensible in seeing out games – they no longer do that, which is the big surprise.
“But they’re not Sarri’s Juventus either, because they’re not playing the sort of football we associate with him, even though he’s said he can’t do that with the players he’s got at the moment.
“They’re trying to do something and it’s not coming off, but they can’t come back to what worked for them last year either. They’re missing Chiellini, not only because he’s their most experienced and best defender, but because they’re lacking a leader like that on the pitch. His absence has been overlooked I think, after he got injured on matchday one.”
So could Max Allegri be tempted back? He is after all still under contract at Juve, having not secured another job since leaving last summer, which according to him has very much been his choice.
“I think in terms of other options for him: he’s a very successful manager and a very charismatic manager, but he’s quite a difficult sell for clubs outside Italy. In some respects a Lippi-esque return should not be ruled out.”
As for Verona, this was a superb victory which cemented their position in sixth place, and means they’re still in with a good chance of qualifying for Europe next season.
“This is a magnificent season they’re having back in the top flight. We should remember the gutsy decision they took, going up through the playoffs after sacking Fabio Grosso a couple of weeks before those playoffs began. Allieti got them up but they said no thanks, in favour of a manager who has been sacked three times by Genoa in Ivan Juric.
“They’ve got the lowest wage bill in the league and they only spent €5million in the transfer window, and I think they’re going to recoup €35million or even more of that through the sales of Amir Rrahmani and Sofryan Amrabat, who’s going to Fiorentina.
“Nobody predicted they would be in sixth and in the Europa League spots – having said that, given how well they’ve played over the last six months, there was this expectation that this game was going to be a real fight for Juventus. The atmosphere at the Bentegodi – I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that since the turn of the century. It was remarkable in terms of the noise they were creating.”
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