Thiago Motta the Right but Not Riskless Hire for Juventus

Next week should finally be the time for Juventus to announce Thiago Motta as their next coach and complete a chase that started months ago. The delay appears to be simply technical. The Bianconeri gave him some time to unplug after the season, but things have never been in doubt since Cristiano Giuntoli reached out to him. The first contacts may even date back to February, Alfredo Pedullà informs. The director started his pursuit once it became apparent that the Old Lady wouldn’t win the Scudetto, making it easy to move on from Massimiliano Allegri.

It’s surely a masterstroke by the former Napoli director considering the challenges and underwhelming results of other coaching searches. The ex-Bologna gaffer would have been a perfect fit for Milan and Napoli and all the other sides a notch below. The Partenopei had their chance last year, but he didn’t like what he heard when he met Aurelio De Laurentiis, so he wasn’t really an option this summer. Instead, the Rossoneri waited too long to decide whether to sack Stefano Pioli and focused on other alternatives at first.

A Long and Successful Chase

It appears that the Juventus exec and Thiago Motta hit it off right away, reaching an agreement that resisted every obstacle, including the tempting prospect of sticking around at Bologna and the courtship of other outfits. In reality, the boss set the stage for his exit by refusing to agree to an extension, facilitating the suitors.

It doesn’t happen often for a candidate to perfectly fit what a team is looking for: modern tactics, ability to maximize the squad and groom youngsters, previous success in Serie A, relatively affordable wages, and ambition but necessarily eagerness to win immediately since he’s still fairly early in his career. Technically, the only reservation is whether his high-intensity philosophy and maniacal preparation will work with a much busier schedule and less practice time.

Allegri’s Legacy

Even though Thiago Motta is the total package on paper for the current era of Juventus, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be all rosy. Allegri has been on their bench for so long that his brand of football seeped into the team’s DNA at this point. Their motto is ‘winning is the only thing that matters’ after all. Their previous attempts to go in a different direction didn’t go far. Maurizio Sarri was sacked after one season despite winning the Scudetto because of strained relationships inside the locker room. In addition, He had to become a lot more pragmatic to make things work, losing his luster. Instead, Andrea Pirlo’s tactics were as confusing as one would expect from somebody debuting on the bench.

The new boss will walk into a less challenging situation than the former Lazio and Napoli boss. The squad is a lot younger and doesn’t have many big personalities to butt heads with. It’s also one of their problems on the pitch. Even if some starlets are sold to raise cash, he’ll have plenty to work with talent-wise. On the other hand, if things don’t work out right away, he’ll face a lot more scrutiny than in his previous stops. For instance, despite the importance to their respective teams, it’s way easier to freeze out M’Bala Nzola at Spezia or Marko Arnautovic and Riccardo Orsolini at Bologna for whatever reasons. His ultimate results quelled any doubts, but, in Turin, there won’t be time and patience to wait till the end to judge. It’ll be a week-to-week process, and each slightly controversial lineup decision will be evaluated with a fine-tooth comb. That will put pressure on his entire operation while he settles on his preferred XI and substitution pattern.

The Main Concerns

In that sense, Giuntoli and the rest of the Bianconeri hierarchy will have to stand by the gaffer a lot more than they did with Allegri publicly and behind the scenes. Explaining that the project is long-term, as the manager will ink a three-year contract, won’t be enough. The fans and the pundits will want to see results pronto. It won’t be hard to improve stylistically, but being critically acclaimed isn’t really an achievement for a team of their caliber. The relatively good news is that they have fallen so much in the second half of the season, and really in recent campaigns, that even being serious contenders would be a success.

Thiago Motta isn’t as loud and demonstrative as other coaches but might not be the easiest person to deal with. He was not so secretly at loggerheads with the main director at Spezia and the disagreements with Bologna exec Giovanni Sartori on the transfer market contributed to his choice to leave Bologna. The reassuring part is that the feuding didn’t affect other and more important stuff, as the gaffer was perfectly capable of compartmentalizing. Still, it’ll be something to monitor, and Juventus will have to hope the honeymoon phase with Giuntoli lasts.

A Challenging Window

Since it’s believed their early strategies were already concurred with him, it won’t be long before they have a faux pas or miss out on a primary target since their summer won’t be too lavish. The boss will have to live with that and make do without getting frustrated. Moreover, things have improved behind the scenes since they poached the apical director from Napoli, and he’ll be further supported by familiar additions to their management soon. However, a team so big always has a lot of chefs in the kitchen, and they are rarely all on the same page. They’ll have to pull in the same direction, or at least prevent the chatter from percolating too much, to keep the peace. A gaffer with a reportedly slightly peculiar character could quickly get fed up if they look like a house divided and don’t win in a hurry, which will be extremely challenging in the next couple of years given the gap they need to close.

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