What Will the Future Hold for Andrea Pirlo at Juventus?

The managerial debut of Andrea Pirlo saw his Juventus team shrug aside Sampdoria in a dominating 3-0 victory that led the Bianconeri faithfuls to set some high expectations for the current season. However, things quickly went downhill for the Brescia native, as his team failed to win another Serie A fixture on the pitch, and were lastly seen outplayed by a struggling Barcelona side in a 2-0 home defeat.

So what are the reasons behind Pirlo’s early struggles? And is the young manager capable of quickly turning the tide before it’s too late? 

Fixing the Unbroken 

For the last two summers, the Juventus management have decided to act in contrary of the popular quote “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, as two managers have been sacked in back to back summers, despite never failing to win a Scudetto title. 

The reasons behind these debatable decisions are pretty obvious. After nine straight Scudetto titles – which is an extraordinary achievement in its own – the local accomplishments no longer satisfy the club’s ever-growing appetite, as president Andrea Agnelli and Co. are almost exclusively focused on the long awaited European triumph. 

So if the Old Lady was willing to wield the axe on Massimiliano Allegri’s incredibly successful stint just because he failed to deliver the Champions League, then Maurizio Sarri had no chance in survival after a forgettable season marred by mostly unpleasant performances and ending in a very early European elimination against Lyon. 

After the Sarri experiment, President Agnelli decided to follow his gut, and appoint a young, smart, charismatic but completely inexperienced manager. And so, Pirlo’s Juventus was born. 

Change Is Never Easy at Juventus 

The Juventus president might carry the Agnelli name that has accompanied the club since its early beginnings, but the visionary man is anything but an old-fashioned patron. Andrea Agnelli is slowly but surely changing the principles that were almost considered sacred inside the black and white castle. 

While the president wouldn’t dare to go as far as challenging Gianpiero Bonipert’s old motto – winning is all that matters at Juventus – the Bianconeri used to be a club that would always rely on experience and consistency. So sacking two experienced managers who brought trophies to the team, and then appointing a coach with no experience is arguably the most “unlike-Juventus” act in recent memory. 

But as their rivals Milan can frankly testify, repeated changes of technical staff, coupled with a change of guard in the squad could be a devastating combination. 

Sarri and Allegri were both sacked for failing to deliver a Champions League trophy, but will Pirlo prove to be an improvement?

Circumstances Defying Pirlo So Far 

As we mentioned in a previous article published during the summer, as a young manager, Andrea Pirlo should be expected to commit mistakes. It’s actually his basic right as a human being adapting to a new profession. His former Milan teammates Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi are currently doing well at Napoli and Benevento respectively, but they both had their fair share of failed managerial stints. 

So for Pirlo, it’s not his fault that Juventus had decided to instantly promote him to the senior squad rather than allow him to test himself for at least one season with their Under-23 squad. 

Whilst each fan might agree or disagree with his tactical decisions, we are yet to see the 2006 World Cup winner commit an obvious blunder. Due to the several injuries, the red card suspensions, and of course Cristiano Ronaldo’s positive Covid-19 testings, the starting eleven mostly picked itself. 

Pirlo had to start his Juventus career with an almost maimed defensive line, with Danilo having to act as an emergency center-back, and the young Gianluca Frabotta called from the Under-23 squad to cover for Alex Sandro’s absence. 

The Bianconeri supporters breathed a sigh of relief with the rejuvenation of the midfield line with the additions of Arthur, Weston McKennie, Dejan Kulusevski, and Federico Chiesa. But the departures of Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi might have left the squad lacking in terms of experienced midfielders with a winning pedigree that can help the team in its most difficult of times. 

Further forward, Alvaro Morata might not have been the club’s first option during last summer’s crazy transfer market, but the returning Spaniard is turning out to be a winning card for La Vecchia Signora. However, Juve’s biggest two stars remain Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. And with the former being absent, and latter still struggling to regain his best physical form, it’s imperative that the whole squad would suffer in such circumstances. 

Overall, the Juventus formation that had been deployed by Andrea Pirlo in the last few matches was an uncharacteristically young side, full of new players who are yet to reach their full potential – or adapt to their new playing positions – while lacking in terms of experience and winning mentality. 

Pirlo and Juventus Must Improve in the Near Future 

Despite suffering from the lack of viable options, Andrea Pirlo is trying his best to rotate his players and keep them fresh as possible, while also switching his tactical shape from one match to another, or even during the 90 minutes, which is a positive sign for the young manager’s tactical flexibility, and his determination to find the best possible tactical solutions for his side, in contrast to his predecessor, Maurizio Sarri, who refused to compromise with his Plan A. 

And Whilst the former Napoli and Chelsea coach used to deliver some overly-positive post-match interviews that showcased his lack of understanding to the Juventus mentality, Pirlo does not commit such mistakes, as he clearly declares his dissatisfaction after every negative result. 

As a fan of Josep Guardiola’s brand of football, one can tell what type of styles the former maestro wishes to adapt. And after the defeat to Barcelona, Andrea stated that his Juventus needs to work hard to reach the Blaugrana’s level, which is a clear reference to their ball possession based game, and witnessing the Catalans brilliant passing beforehand could prove to be a vital learning lesson for the smart young coach. 

Those who witnessed Andrea Pirlo’s playing career know that it began with some huge promise, before quickly suffering from several setbacks that threatened to destroy it. But then one little positional change made all the difference, and paved the way for the rise of a true Italian legend. 

So in conclusion, fans of Andrea Pirlo should know more than anyone else what a small change can do to someone’s career. And whilst the supporters who proclaimed him as an already great manager after the Sampdoria victory were obviously illusional, those who are writing him off so early after a tough start are no less irrational. 

Pirlo can still save his Juventus career, and the returns of Ronaldo, Matthijs De Ligt and the real Dybala would only enhance his chances – and perhaps a change of luck in terms of disallowed Morata goals wouldn’t hurt either – but the positive signs must instantly arrive, because as much as president Agnelli might be fond of his new manager, he wouldn’t place him above his own head.

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