As Juventus celebrate the Serie A title this week, the significance of their achievement begins to come into focus. A fifth Scudetto sees the current incarnation of the Old Lady tie the record for consecutive Italian league triumphs, taking their place in the pantheon of great teams whilst also injecting some much-needed youth into Max Allegri’s squad.
Last season saw the Coach lead the Bianconeri to only the third league and cup double in club history, while also steering them to the Champions League Final. Yet his accomplishments were widely seen as merely a continuation of predecessor Antonio Conte’s work, the former boss having completely transformed the side over his three seasons in charge. That was something Allegri simply could not have done, with the new Chelsea manager possessing a passion and drive that remain unmatched by his peers on the peninsula.
Yet what Allegri has done since taking his place on the bench in the summer of 2014 has been simply phenomenal, with only AC Milan standing between Juventus and a second domestic double this term. What follows is a look at five areas in which the Livorno native has improved the team and helped write a new chapter in the club’s long and storied history.
Juventus retained Serie A when Napoli lost to Roma.— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) April 26, 2016
Their past 25 league games ??: WWWWWWWWWDWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW https://t.co/hCb14u1AdD
Conte undoubtedly found the perfect formula for Serie A success, his 3-5- 2 formation bringing the best from the talent available and ushering in Juve’s latest era of dominance. Allegri has lent heavily upon it himself, but has added alternatives, utilising what he dubbed “4-3- and then we’ll see” as the side advanced to the latter stages of the Champions League.
The Coach has also found a way to incorporate the attacking talents of Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro at wing-back without losing the defensive solidity of that three-man backline. Often making changes during matches, Allegri’s tactical versatility has been essential in maintaining Juve’s winning run.
WINNING OVER THE VETERANS
Key to reviving the team after their disappointing start to 2015/16 was the veteran core of the side, with Gigi Buffon and Patrice Evra both speaking out against the team’s poor performances. They did so while offering Allegri their full backing, supporting the Coach while many were calling for him to be fired, just as they had when he was originally appointed.
“Only a brave man would take over after three Scudetti in a row,” Buffon said last summer, “because nobody, including us, thought we could do it again.” Yet thanks to ensuring the club captain – plus the likes of Andrea Barzagli, Evra and Sami Khedira – remained fully engaged, Allegri has managed to do just that.
NURTURING YOUNG TALENT
At the opposite end of the scale, the Juve boss has brought youngsters Paulo Dybala (22), Daniele Rugani (21) and Mario Lemina (22) into prominent roles, refreshing the team and bringing the best from each of them.
“Allegri did a good job with me and he’s doing the same with Dybala,” Stephan El Shaarawy said earlier this season, recalling his successful breakthrough under the Coach’s tutelage at AC Milan. “With youngsters it takes patience,” he added, and there is little doubt that this approach is paying huge dividends in Turin.
DEVELOPING PAUL POGBA
While seeing young talent flourish was rare under Conte, Paul Pogba’s raw ability could not be denied, breaking into the first-choice XI despite the presence of Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo. Under Allegri he has blossomed further still, emerging as one of the finest midfielders in the world and the Coach deserves immense credit for that, pushing Pogba to deliver consistently.
ADDING AN ELEMENT OF CALM
Conte was and is famously relentless with his players, earning the nickname Il Martello – “The Hammer” – for the way he drilled them furiously at all times. Allegri has a much softer reputation, giving the squad a longer leash while also being far more open and approachable in his dealings with the media.
Yet he has not been afraid to lambast his team when they make mistakes, often exploding furiously on the touchline whenever he feels the side need pushing a little harder.
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