Pirlo’s Juventus: when the Italian Job goes wrong

The once dominant clubs recent run of poor form, culminating in their expulsion from the Champions League, has left the entire footballing world in a state of shock, and desperate to know who is to blame.

Dominic Hancock
29th March 2021
Twitter @DeadlineDayLive
On the 9th of March, an instant Champions League classic was produced in the second leg of Juventus and Porto's round of 16 tie. Whilst the Italians had been stunned in the first leg, they held a slender away goal which they hoped would propel them to victory.

Therefore, this second-leg seemed to be just another opportunity for the Bianconeri to progress to the next stage of the competition, the loss in the Estadio do Dragao resigned to a small bump on their journey to claim another European title. 

Nonetheless, Pirlo’s men seemed to lack any identity or formal game plan beyond ‘pass the ball to Ronaldo’. The five-time Balon D’Or winner seemed helpless as he watched a competent Porto side score two vital away goals to ensure that they would be the ones advancing to the next stage of the tournament. This performance perhaps typifies the disappointing form which Juventus have experienced since Pirlo’s appointment, now a mere third in the Serie A and 10 points adrift from the top spot. The famously dominant club achieved their 36thdomestic title only last year, and so the question must be asked. Who is to blame? The answer lies within the dugout and the boardroom. 

Whilst an undoubtedly inspirational player, Pirlo is not a natural manager.

His only previous managerial position came during a seven-day tenure over the Juventus u23’s, and his lack of tactical awareness and experience is embarrassingly opaque. It is not as if he hasn’t been supplied with desirable tools with such summer acquisitions as Arthur and Alvaro Morata accompany an already dynamic squad. Therefore, it would seem that blame for the team’s failures can be firmly placed at Pirlo’s once graceful feet. 

However, it cannot be said he is entirely at fault. Instead, I believe the club’s Chief Football Officer, Fabio Paratici, should receive at least some level of criticism. A former footballer himself, Paratici has made some interesting statements during his time as an administrator, including his confirmation that Juventus would once again be led by Maurizio Sarri after their title winning season.

Nevertheless, in this writer’s opinion, he fell victim to the same dream had at such clubs as Chelsea and Manchester United; that winning could continue with a club legend at the helm. Nonetheless, this tactic has produced inconsistent form, even resulting in the sacking of Frank Lampard in January. Though Pirlo still has much to learn when it comes to leading from the dugout, some blame must be handed to those that put him there so prematurely for believing that image could make up for managerial inadequacies.

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