With the way Juventus ended 2009, there was nowhere to go but up.
A disastrous December, to say the least, has left the club with no real idea what the future holds and rumors of a coaching change dominated the press during the winter break. Even though the board again put their faith in Ciro Ferrara, the press continued to run stories that his future will depend on how Juve begin the second half of the season.
The first loo at the team in the new year came in a vital away match against Parma. Ferrara changed formations yet again this season—this time going with a 4-4-1-1 with Diego playing up front with David Trezeguet.
Things couldn't have started any better for the Bianconeri. After just three minutes, they were already ahead 1-0. Diego's corner first found the head of Giorgio Chiellini and then the head of Hasan Salihamidzic before it went past Parma keeper Antonio Mirante.
However, from then on Juve were hardly the attacking force you would expect when a team scores in the first few minutes of a match.
Parma came close to leveling the terms 15 minutes in when Jonathan Biabiany unleashed a powerful strike after an impressive run. However, Juve keeper Alexander Manninger was up to the task and turned the shot away.
At 22 minutes David Trezeguet had to come off the field after sustaining an injury. It looked like the French hitman landed awkwardly on his right ankle and was replaced by Amauri, who had anything but a good first half of the season.
It got even worse for Juve when Parma did get the equalizer four minutes later. Former Juve striker Nicola Amoruso beat Juve defender Nicola Legrottaglie to get a head on a Damiano Zenoni cross and put it past Manninger.
Minutes later, Amoruso came close to getting his second. The 35-year-old striker unleashed a rocket from long distance that Manninger tipped over the bar for a corner.
However, Juve took the lead again 13 minutes after Parma made it 1-1. Again off a Diego corner, the ball found the head of a player, but it was that of Paolo Castellini, not a Juventus player. The Parma defender, who was attempting to clear the ball, nodded it past a surprised Mirante to put the Old Lady up 2-1.
Not the way you envisioned Juve taking the lead, but a lead's a lead.
The second half was much like the first, with Juve failing to sustain any consistent kind of pressure. Parma again held the ball for the majority of the time and their chances on goal reflected that—out-shooting Juve 13-9.
Fabio Grosso had a chance to double Juve's lead but his close-range shot was blocked. Legrotagglie had a quality chance seconds later but his header missed to the right of goal.
Juve again had a chance to make it 3-1, this time off a Diego free kick just outside the box. The Brazilian playmaker took the free kick he earned and missed by just inches while Mirante could just stand and watch the ball sneak over the bar.
After already losing Trezeguet, Ferrara saw defender Martin Caceres leave the pitch after being shown his second yellow. Diego was then pulled off in favor of Zdenek Grygera to keep the four-man backline intact.
That meant Parma was able to push forward for the final 20 minutes of the match—not something you want to hear when you're trying to hold a one-goal lead.
And that's exactly what the Gialloblu did. Amoruso saw his shot from outside of the box go just wide of Manninger's goal. Substitute Valri Bojinov, who was on loan with Juve during their season in Serie B, had a free kick from just outside the box go but drove it right into the wall.
As the six minutes of stoppages went on, Parma couldn't get anything on goal. The siege in front of Manninger was over as the final whistle blew.
The heat certainly isn't off of Ferrara, but a win is something that the team desperately needed.
It certainly wasn't pretty and it definitely was far from entertaining football. But three points are three points.