Juventus and Massimiliano Allegri: It’s Sink or Swim Time

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus have endured a tough start to the season. They are currently sitting in 8th in the Serie A table and had the worst start to a Champions League campaign in their proud history with serious injury concerns…it’s not been a good start.

However, Max Allegri has managed to remain in the Turin giants’ hot seat throughout the international break, a period of time which most under pressure managers fear the sack.

Despite this, the bookmakers are giving odds of the next manager to coach The Old Lady, and the suggestions are quite interesting.

But first let’s look at how likely it is that Allegri will get sacked.

Allegri famously delivered so much success during his first spell in charge of Juventus where he won five consecutive Scudetti and four Coppa Italia’s in-a-row as well as guiding the Old Lady to their most recent Champions League Final back in 2017.

Antonio Conte had laid the foundations for Allegri to continue Juventus’s success when he first took over in 2014. The Turin giants had already won and retained their domestic crown and reached a Champions League final under Conte’s stewardship, a much-needed revival after the aftermath of the Calciopoli Scandal and subsequent relegation to Serie B.

Yet, Allegri gave the Bianconeri the calmness that they so desperately craved with an impressive 70.48 win percentage.

Despite Allegri’s Juve dominating the Italian game and making their mark on the Champions League, the club wanted more.

Allegri was relieved of his managerial duties by the Bianconeri in June 2019 and was replaced by the seemingly more attacking style of Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri was always an odd choice for the likes of Nedved and Agnelli in the Juve hierarchy to hire. Not only was he was beaten in the Scudetto race by his predecessor Allegri multiple times, but he was never the ‘company man’ that Allegri was so often seen as being.

In contrast to the well-mannered, statesman-like, smartly dressed Allegri, Sarri was the opposite to Allegri in almost every possible way. He was a chain-smoking, swearing, tracksuit wearing coach but, he wanted to play his very unique attacking-minded playstyle.

However, domestic dominance wasn’t enough for Juventus and instead of just winning games and trophies, they wanted to win them by playing a more attractive, attacking style of calcio, and Sarri was seen as that man.

Maurizio Sarri’s ‘Sarri-Ball’ never got going in Turin and with the players had his disposal that were seemingly unable to adapt to his tactical methods and philosophy, (most notably Cristiano Ronaldo), Sarri was sacked after just one season in charge of the Old Lady, despite maintaining their Scudetto winning streak to nine consecutive years.

Juventus were then left in limbo, unsure as to exactly what they want in a manager and playing style going forward.

Remarkably, they turned to former Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo as head coach in August 2020.

This was a huge risk that didn’t pay-off for the Old Lady. This was the midfield Maestro’s first managerial job of his career after a one-week period managing Juve’s Under 23s.

The season ended in failure as Juventus only managed to finish in fourth place on the final day of the Serie A season, whilst bitter rivals Inter took the Scudetto crown that had been theirs for the past nine seasons.

Pirlo did manage to win the Coppa Italia against Gasperini’s Atalanta, but it wasn’t enough to save his job.

So, Juventus turned back to the ‘reliable’ Max Allegri in May 2021.

Allegri’s reputation remained intact; he was still a highly sought-after manager who had been heavily linked with huge clubs throughout Europe as well as turning down Real Madrid before his re-appointment with Juventus.

However, this time Allegri didn’t inherit a well-balanced, Scudetto winning team.

In-fact there were several problems facing Allegri like players who were signed as free agents had large and expensive contracts that were difficult to move on like Aaron Ramsey.

Allegri also inherited an unhappy Cristiano Ronaldo who told the club that he wanted to leave late on in the summer transfer window, meaning that they didn’t have the time to find a natural replacement for his previous 29 Serie A league goals that won him the Capocannoniere award in the previous campaign.

Juve ended the season by once again finishing fourth, but this time without winning any silverware for the first time in a decade.

Things have not got better for Allegri and Co this campaign either. With injuries to new signings Pogba and Di Maria as well as other crucial players like Chiesa and Locatelli, Juventus were always fighting a losing battle.

However, with criticism of Allegri’s defensive style-of-play and a frustration about the lack of creative service for January marquee singing and Ronaldo replacement Dusan Vlahovic the pressure is mounting.

Juve currently sit in 8th position in the Serie A table having lost to the likes of Spezia and Monza, the latter who claimed their first ever win in Serie A against Juve and did it with 62% possession!

The pressure dangerously escalated when after losing 0-1 away to Monza, Allegri had to be escorted away by police.

After this embarrassing defeat to newly promoted Monza, #AllegriOut became the number one trend on Italian Twitter.

Yet remarkably things got even worse for the Old Lady.

Juve find themselves with zero points from two games in the Champions League having lost to PSG and Benfica respectively. This is the first time that Juventus have lost their opening two UCL games in their proud history. It is not a record or a stat that helps Allegri’s cause.

So, who might be available to replace Allegri if this poor form continues?

According to many bookmakers, Zinedine Zidane is touted as the favorite to take over the Bianconeri.

On paper, Zidane makes sense, he’s a former Juventus player who’s proven himself to be a world-class manager, after winning three consecutive Champions Leagues with Real Madrid between 2016-2018.

Another recent name being mentioned is recently sacked Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel who has already managed in Germany, France and England.

However, Juventus have only ever appointed two non-Italian managers since the 1970s, one being Czech manager Čestmír Vycpálek in 1971 and of course fellow Frenchman and former Juve star Didier Deschamps in 2006.

The odds of Juventus appointing a non-Italian are slim.

The outsider tipped to take over is current Juventus Under 19s manager and again former player, Paolo Montero. However, after the Pirlo appointment gamble it’s unlikely Juve will want to risk this again.

One contender might have been Roberto De Zerbi who has built a solid reputation as a Pep Guardiola philosophically inspired manager with attractive, possession-based, attacking football.

However, Brighton and Hove Albion have recently appointed him as Graham Potter’s replacement, not to mention Di Zerbi is strongly against the idea of a European Super League, so he wouldn’t be ideal for the Juve hierarchy to take on politically.

Despite all this talk and pressure, Max Allegri is still the Juventus manager.

Recent reports have suggested that Juventus cannot afford to sack Allegri even if they wanted to, however if results continue to be this poor it’s unlikely that this would stop them.

If they did decide to show Allegri the exit door, they would only have to pay him until either his contract was due to end, in 2025, or if he doesn’t get employed by another club in the meantime.

Juventus will now regroup after the international break with crucial matches in both Serie A and the Champions League, these are key games for both Juventus and their season as well as Allegri and his job.

Juventus will take on Bologna next and will hope to reignite their season.