Even before Ciro Ferrara was sacked and Alberto Zaccheroni was brought in on an interim basis, the Italian media was having a field day speculating who would be Juventus' long-term coach.
This kind of speculation is no real surprise considering the Italian media spits out rumors like a baseball players spits sunflower seeds in the dugout. No matter what paper it is, the rumors can't be taken very seriously considering how wrong they are the majority of the time.
The name that has been gaining momentum since Ferrara got the axe a week ago has been Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez. Like it or not, he's the name that has been identified by the press as the person who will be Juve board's first choice whenever they decide to begin their search.
Sure, he's a big name and Juve are a big team. It’s only natural to think that the biggest managers in the world should be at the biggest teams. And as a tactician, Benitez is certainly deserving. There are very few managers out there that can rival his intelligence when it comes to that area of the game.
Other than that, what is there that demands "Benitez to Juventus" come Summer 2010?
During his time at Anfield, his transfer record has been completely dreadful. Outside of Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina, and a few others, his spending has resulted in millions upon millions going out and basically no production coming in.
That’s nothing new to Juventus supporters with the much-maligned Alessio Secco running the show when the transfer market is open. His transfers have been a basket full of awful since he took over for Luciano Moggi in the fall of 2006.
So you want to combine Benitez’s suggestions with Secco's continuous blunders on the transfer market? Oh boy. That doesn't sound like a very promising proposition at all.
Secco's transfer failures have shown how he still has not learned from his mistakes. Get on Ferrara all you want for how the team played for the majority of his tenure, but he wasn't the one who went to Secco and said he wanted Felipe Melo signed for €25 million this summer.
Juventus can’t afford to have their managerial position become a revolving door like it has since their demotion to Serie B. Juve have had five coaches in five years—that’s something that mid-table teams do, not a team that should be challenging for hardware.
They don’t need to be experimenting with coaches who have only played Italian teams in the Champions League. They need somebody who is a proven commodity in Serie A
That means somebody like Gian Piero Gasperini or Cesare Prandelli, two of the best coaches in Italy at the moment, should be Juve's target. Not Rafa Benitez.
Both those coaches have shown the ability to get the best out of their players—see Prandelli with Melo as example No. 1 of quality man management. Combine that with the ability to bring in youngsters and develop them, you have a prime candidate for the Juventus job.
You can't say Benitez has done that during his time at Liverpool.
If Juve wants a coach that will integrate the likes of Sebastian Giovinco and the other talented youngsters into the squad come next season, Benitez shouldn’t be the one on the sidelines. His continuous failures to bring up youth products and develop them is almost as bad as his transfer record.
The plan since Juve returned to Serie A three years ago was not only build a team that could compete in the present, but also have one that can sustain long-term success with a core of young players that are homegrown like Giovinco, Claudio Marchisio, Paolo De Ceglie, and others working their way up through the youth sector.
That project should not have Benitez being any part of it.
Rafa may be flattered by the press linking him with the Juve job. That’s all fine and dandy. Juventus aren’t at the levels they once were, but they are still one of the most-storied clubs around.
But that’s all it should be. Juventus should just say no to having Benitez on the sidelines when the season kicks off in August.
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