When Max Allegri returned to Juventus in the summertime, everybody in Turin anticipated his arrival would coincide with an instantaneous return to the profitable methods of his first trophy-laden interval in command of the membership.
5 straight Serie A titles, to not point out a number of Italian Cups and Supercups, had made Allegri one in all Europe’s most admired managers. His departure in 2019, by mutual settlement, felt just like the pure finish of a cycle.
His return was primarily an admission the membership had wasted the 2 years since he left. The hope from the boardroom was that he would reinvigorate a membership whose vice-like grip on the Serie A title was lastly ended final season after 9 straight league triumphs.
However to date there was no fairytale comeback.
Every week in the past, Juve had been within the relegation zone, winless after 4 video games and dealing with a match towards Spezia which Allegri described as a “relegation six pointer”.
Seven days and back-to-back victories later, Juve are a minimum of within the prime half of the desk and face Champions League holders Chelsea on Wednesday in higher form than they might have been.
Why has Allegri struggled to make an on the spot impression?
Not like when he took cost in 2014 after Antonio Conte had led Juve to 3 straight Serie A titles, now Allegri has a rebuilding job on his palms.
Maurizio Sarri might have gained the title in his solely season in cost however his appointment as Allegri’s successor in 2019 was removed from a hit, failing to win over key gamers Giorgio Chiellini and Cristiano Ronaldo, whereas Andrea Pirlo’s season in cost in 2020-21 was even worse. Juve completed a disastrous fourth.
Considered one of Allegri’s largest challenges in reshaping the squad is to cope with the loss to Manchester United of Ronaldo, whose regular stream of targets masked the necessity for change within the workforce.
The as soon as imperious defence will not be impenetrable anymore. Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli are lengthy gone. Leonardo Bonucci and Chiellini, regardless of having proved greater than dependable, want a break extra typically than previously.
Matthijs de Ligt has not but lived as much as his potential and has not proven the extent of performances which prompted Juve to pay £67.5m to signal him from Ajax.
“Since he arrived, you all converse of a future Ballon d’Or [winner],” stated Allegri. “All of us have to maintain calm, he has vital qualities however he has to develop.”
This vulnerability in defence is borne out by some stark statistics. The ten targets they’ve conceded of their first six league video games is greater than in any season because the late Nineteen Eighties. And so they have conceded a minimum of as soon as in every of their previous 20 league matches, one thing that they had not completed for greater than 60 years.
Juve’s capability to maneuver on from Ronaldo has not been helped by accidents to key attacking duo Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala. Morata left the pitch towards Sampdoria on Sunday, whereas a shaken Dybala took to the altering room in tears throughout the sport. Neither will function till after the October worldwide break.
They’re their workforce’s joint-top scorers, so their absence might be felt.
The midfield will not be working effectively both. Adrien Rabiot ought to, in response to Allegri, “take to the purpose 30 instances a sport and burst the ball by means of the web, however he retains capturing over the bar”.
Manuel Locatelli, a part of Italy’s triumphant Euro 2020 squad, could have an rising position to play following his summer season arrival from Sassuolo.
In brief, solidity is gone on the again, creativity has been missing in midfield and the entrance line is a development web site.
Encouraging indicators rising
“And so they wish to play for Juve!” Allegri screamed with displeasure whereas leaving the pitch after a 1-1 draw with AC Milan on 19 September.
Victories over bottom-half sides Spezia and Sampdoria since then can solely provide a lot encouragement, however there are causes to recommend Juventus can correctly flip a nook.
They’ve loads of younger expertise and the likes of De Ligt (22), Dejan Kulusevski (21) and Chiesa (23) can all have a a lot larger impression. All three had been solely on the bench for that sport with Milan.
They nonetheless need to show they’ve what it takes to put on a Bianconeri shirt – however no-one doubts the standard is there. The identical could be stated for Moise Kean, who has returned from Everton on a two-year mortgage which is able to change into a £24m everlasting deal.
Realizing his rebuild needed to begin from the fundamentals, Allegri had been implementing a practical 4-4-2 formation, with Juve defending deep.
On Sunday he opted for a extra offensive 4-2-3-1, with Locatelli linking with Dybala, who additionally took benefit of help from Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi on both aspect.
Will the enhancements of the previous week be sufficient to hassle Thomas Tuchel’s reigning European champions? Maybe, however it’s extra probably this sport has come too quickly for a aspect whose supervisor is mired within the strategy of identification renewal, on the pitch in addition to inside his gamers’ heads.