“A sad end, but one may feel, he deserved a second chance”

 

Juventus have reappointed Massimiliano Allegri as the new coach of Juventus and which means they had to show Andrea Pirlo the exit door. It was a sad end to one of the sharpest brains in world football and the legend of Juve as well. When Pirlo was appointed as the coach of Juve, it was a risky but smart gamble that backfired in the last season but could have been fruitful in the next.

In August 2019, Pirlo enrolled in the UEFA Pro Licence courses at Coverciano.[286] On 30 July 2020, Pirlo was appointed head coach of Serie C club Juventus Under-23, the reserve side of his former club Juventus.

Nine days later, following the dismissal of Maurizio Sarri, Pirlo was appointed head coach of the first team, signing a two-year contract.

Pirlo received his UEFA Pro License on 16 September 2020 where he received 107 out of 110 after his oral validation of his 30-page thesis, entitled ‘The football that I would like.”

Pirlo cited the teams that ‘inspired [his] idea of football’ as ‘the Barcelona of Johan Cruyff and then of Pep Guardiola, the Ajax of Louis van Gaal, the Milan of Carlo Ancelotti, and the Juventus of Antonio Conte.’

But he had to take the load of expectations of his former club.

Pirlo was looking to make it 10 successive Serie A titles for Juventus but struggled. The team even headed into the final day facing the prospect of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2011-12, but victory over Bologna, and other results going their way, saw them prevail.

As a coach he was a rookie and lacked the experience but as mentioned above and before it was a gamble and in that gamble, the lack of handling the pressure while coaching big teams like Juve proved vital as his tenure progressed.

Pirlo’s inexperience was perhaps best highlighted by the fact that as he was heralded as the Bianconeri’s newest manager he was still to submit his thesis for the UEFA Pro Coaching Course.

There had been moments of brilliance and joy: a 3-0 win away at Barcelona, defeating Napoli to win the Italian Super Cup and masterminding a two-legged victory to knock Inter out of the Coppa Italia – that showed his footballing brain wasn’t completely fried by the task at hand but too often he came unstuck, often let down by those at his disposal.

He inherited a squad that was relying too much on individuals who were aging and of course, looked towards Cristiano Ronaldo for the remedy. Ronaldo kept on scoring goals and even his individual brilliance could not save Juve from struggling throughout the season because the rest of the players, whose average age was over 30 years, lacked the cutting-edge like the GOAT.

For a new project, fresh legs are required and Pirlo never had such even though the likes of Matthjis de Ligt, Merih Demiral, Federico Chiesa, Arthur Melo, Weston McKennie, and Dejan Kulusevski were around, the ideal combination never came.

The midfield lost its creativity while upfront – confusion remained between Alvaro Morata and Ronaldo.

With a Capocannoniere top scorer’s title to show for it, no one can point fingers at Ronaldo for letting Pirlo down like many in the squad did.

The GOAT finished with 29 league goals and 36 in all competitions but at 36 years old he provided complications.

Mainly, his presence up top caused a dilemma for Pirlo and Alvaro Morata.

Daily Mail stated, “It was suggested that Morata was low down Pirlo’s list when it came to another No 9, and Pirlo made no secret of his desire to land Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud in the January window.”

“Ronaldo can still explode into life but he occupies the top end of the pitch and it left Morata doing a lot of the grunt work by dropping deep to link play.”

Pirlo alternated Ronaldo’s partner with Kulusevski, Chiesa, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala all getting opportunities.

This partnership showed flashes but there was no consistency, and while Ronaldo’s season was statistically great, this partnership – or lack thereof – hurt the team.

Then there was no intensity among the players and Pirlo failed to inject such when it mattered because, in the crucial phases of the top events and Serie A, Juve either lost or dropped points.

Pirlo was appointed with no senior coaching experience and led the reigning Serie A champions to fourth place. Allegri has returned for a second spell on a contract understood to be to 2025.

A sad end, but one may feel, he deserved a second chance.

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