Allegri Wasted a Golden Opportunity to Go Out Well

Massimiliano Allegri may have a lot of flaws, but style wasn’t among those, at least until Wednesday. That’s part of what kept him on the Juventus bench for seemingly an eternity. Considering that, the events following the Coppa Italia final were jarring, ruining what would have been a tidy ending to his second spell.

While the outburst against the referee in the stoppage time was over the top but somewhat tongue in cheek and a last hurrah of his signature move, the blatant gesturing to distance the front office, Cristiano Giuntoli in particular, that was just standing there, from the celebrations was already rude and tacky. Then, things unraveled afterward as he damaged some TV equipment and got into a heated exchange with a journalist. The versions differ, but the situation would already be bad enough if things didn’t get physical and it was just a shouting match.

According to Gianluca Di Marzio and multiple sources, Juventus are considering sacking Allegri right away without waiting for the final two games. Surely some accountants and lawyers within the club would rejoice if they found ground to fire him for cause. It’d spare them about €20M given his and his staff’s salaries in the remaining year of his contract. That’s a whole different can of worms that would have legal ramifications, as he wouldn’t go out quietly.

The Internal Feuding

Even if the coach might have some legitimate gripes about his cohabitation with Giuntoli and how the future coaching change has been handled, his complaints don’t have a leg to stand on. Per Corriere della Sera, he didn’t want the former Napoli exec in the first place. He was comfortable with Giovanni Manna or would have preferred Sassuolo official Giovanni Rossi. That’s a demand that stems from having had an excessive amount of power over the years. It’s entirely up to the ownership to call the shots about that. The Old Lady desperately needed a seasoned exec with a proven track record to fix years of erratic management to say the least.

There has been some subtle sabotaging the other way around since the boss took forever to trust Timothy Weah despite having one good wingback at his disposal, Andrea Cambiaso, never gave Tiago Djaló a shot, and barely utilized Carlos Alcaraz. It wouldn’t be hard to argue that it was done artfully to make the exec look bad.

Even if the relationship between the Allegri and Giuntoli was icy, that’s not enough of a justification. The official often shielded him publicly during their midseason swoon, which is really still ongoing. Relaying the decision about the switch to him and the squad earlier would have done more harm than good and only undermined him further. The players could have been even more checked out than they have been in recent Serie A rounds.

A Favorable Coverage

It’s particularly funny that Allegri attacked a journalist as, for some reason, he has always had some staunch supporters in the press willing to go to bat and even deny the obvious to defend his work. They’ll surely be quick to label the campaign as a success since Juventus qualified for the Champions League and won the Coppa Italia, reaching their objectives. While that’s true, how you get there also matters. His criticism comes more from normal fans than from the papers.

The Bianconeri and their coach need to thank the other teams’ success in Europe, which granted Serie A a fifth spot, and Roma’s late slide for landing the plane early and avoiding a tense finish. The goal was magnified by the lack of European football this season as a result of their penalization. In standard situations, they last failed to qualify in 2010/2011 and has been a rarity throughout their history. If they don’t stop their skid in the final two meaningless matches, they risk their worst finish since that season position-wise. They have won two matches since that fateful Empoli game and the ensuing loss with Inter that killed their Scudetto hopes in February. The boss would have already gotten the ax in hastier sides.

The Overall Assessment of His Return

Allegri deserves some credit for his attachment to the team, his leadership, and for weathering the storm during the team’s judiciary ordeal in the past campaign and a great tactical swan song against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia, winning it Carlo Ancelotti-style, which isn’t too hard to do if you score early. That’s about it, though. He avoided a trophyless triennium, which, without counting Calciopoli and the rebuild afterward, last happened between 1998 and 2001. Still, the Old Lady has won 15 domestic cups, so that’s nice but not a triumphant achievement.

The stylistic debate will always be there, but even the results aren’t on his side given a fourth-placed finish in his first year after his return with a strong squad despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s sudden departure, two early Champions League eliminations, one versus Villarreal in the Round of 16, the other in the group stage, where they tangled with PSG, Benfica, and Maccabi Haifa, and bowing out against Sevilla in the semifinal after the demotion to the Europa League, missing out on a date with Roma.

They lived above their means early in this campaign, but the bill eventually came due. Considering that his ancient tactics have set the club back a few years and caused most of their contributors to underperform, lacking player development, and the fact that several youngsters had to leave to have a legitimate chance at proving their worth, the judgment about his second act can only be negative. Too much time has passed from his previous stint to still live off of it, especially since he hasn’t evolved whatsoever.

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