They’re all-powerful now, but it wasn’t long ago that Juventus were a club in a mess. How did they go from relegation to a superclub again…?
Juventus have their ninth Serie A title on the spin, further establishing themselves as the most dominant force in Italian football, possibly European football.
But of course it hasn’t always been this way. It seems strange to think that it was only 14 years ago that their world came crashing down around their ears, the Calciopoli scandal sending them down to Serie B, something that could easily have buried a club of even their side.
“People look back on these nine years quite casually and think Juventus have always been this strong and this powerful, when they really haven’t,” said James Horncastle on the latest European edition of the Totally Football Show.
“They’ve had to earn the position they’ve got themselves into, which is now very much a club who consider themselves up there with Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, as a group of clubs who decide the future of the game. In reality, they were miles away from that in 2011. Miles away.”
So how did they do it? How did they go from what could have been the smouldering rubble of a once great football club into the force we see today. James explained it all:
“You have to give credit to Andrea Agnelli. He was elected president in 2010, and he inherited a club that had been relegated in the Calciopoli scandal, the old board resigned and were replaced with a new one that weren’t successful.
“They recapitalised the club with the backing of Exor, the holding company that Agnelli has a stake in. They [initially] didn’t spend big because after Calciopoli their revenues have contracted, they weren’t in the Champions League in four of the five years since they came back from Serie B, their stars left, a lot of their existing sponsors and commercial partners renegotiated their deals for smaller money.
“Agnelli started in 2010 by appointing Gigi Del Neri, which didn’t work out, they finished seventh again. The Milan clubs at that time: Milan won the Champions League in 2007, Serie A again in 2011 with Zlatan and the big names from the 2007 era, Inter won the treble in 2010, both of those clubs were making a lot of money.”
But of course all generational teams need a generational manager, and Juventus got theirs on something of a gamble.
“Juve then go to this guy whose only success had been in the second division, Antonio Conte. His only experience in Serie A had been a brief six-week period at Atalanta, which was a disaster. They won the league completely against expectation, by free transfers really.
“That was the story for the first three or four years of this adventure: them doing business on frees, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba being the main ones; Conte bringing this new and innovative style of football which made them successful and him being insatiable, wanting to win every league game; the ‘BBC’ defence of Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini, with Buffon behind them being the real cornerstone of that team; and then the decline of the Milan clubs.
“Those two have faded while Juve have risen, and Juve have benefitted from making all the right calls in that time, to be in the Champions League and go deep into the Champions League every year under Allegri, that’s where the transformation comes from. That’s where this economic stratification comes where they are so much richer than everyone else that the margin of error is bigger. That’s what has helped Sarri this year.”
They also need financial power, and they have Manchester United to thank for that. Well, sort of.
“When they sold Pogba for €105million, and got to the Champions League final as well, their revenue-making ability went through the roof, and they became a super club again in a way that they hadn’t been from 2006-2014.”
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