Juventus: What the Return of Antonio Conte Means for the Bianconeri

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

The box is now a thing of the past
The box is now a thing of the pastClaudio Villa/Getty Images

This Sunday will mark the first time in the 2012-2013 campaign that Antonio Conte will coach Juventus from the sidelines, as the Bianconeri travel to Sicily to take on Palermo.

We all know why he's been banished to a box in the stands for the past few months. There's no need to go into the specifics of whether his punishment was too harsh or too lenient. We've done that already.

What matters is that on Sunday, his punishment will be over.

And the rest of Serie A better beware.

Some writers might tell you that his return will have a minimal impact. He's been allowed to train the team and had contact with his assistants during the game, so his return to the actual sidelines should be a formality.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Have you noticed how players have been talking about his return in the past few weeks? How anxious they were about having their coach on the sidelines again?

There's a good reason for that: Conte is not just a master tactician or a guru on the transfer market, although he's shown evidence of being both. But that doesn't define his coaching style.

Conte is a motivator, and a damn good one.

He's the type of coach who strikes fear into his own players, a leader of men whose words motivate his squad to greatness. He's masterful at changing the atmosphere in the dressing room at halftime, and last year his speeches, combined with a few tactical changes during the break, often transformed his team from a weak, pathetic bunch of players in the first half to a cohesive unit that dominated the opposition in the second.

His leadership has been missed in the 2012-2013 season, and it will give the Bianconeri a tremendous boost when he returns to his coaching duties on Sunday.

Conte has also built a reputation for being very good at making substitutions during games, something Juventus have struggled with under the guidance of Angelo Alessio and Massimo Carrera.

Both assistants should be applauded for the way they took over the team while Conte was serving his suspension, but the differences were very visible nonetheless.

But that suspension is a thing of the past. Starting Sunday, Serie A will once again have to account for a Juventus team at full strength, and as we saw last year, that is a scary thing.

The team's general will once again be on the sidelines, ready to will his team forward when needed. Players who are struggling will be able to look to the bench and see their leader, right there by their side.

They'll see a club icon that will shout until his lungs give out when things are going bad and will always defend his players, no matter what.

Conte will make the best team in Italy even better, and his return is more important to Juventus than any striker who could possibly arrive during the January transfer window.