Forget Juventus' Cracks, Injuries, and Excuses, It's Time To Move On
In England it would be what is known as a "cracked badge week." The phrase began at Old Trafford in the early days of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign, a little light relief during a difficult time for all at the club. With every poor result the tabloid press inserted a ruptured United badge at the top of the page, adding a visual effect to highlight the latest crisis engulfing Old Trafford.
Newspapers across Italy report football in a far more serious manner however. This is probably a blessing, as this season the Juventus crest would resemble the San Andreas Fault by now.
The club has lurched from one crisis to the next, now losing two separate three-goal leads in four days, never seemingly completely clear of poor form, and never fully recovered from injuries. Not at any time this season have the Turin club been able to name an unchanged lineup.
But blaming a never-ending injury list is just a poor excuse, wheeled out by clubs attempting to deflect criticism from where it should truly be aimed. Club legend Marco Tardelli rightly pointed out earlier in the week that the club’s hierarchy “know nothing about football,” but in laying scathing blame at the door of those at the top he is only joining a chorus of voices using Jean-Claude Blanc and Alessio Secco as scapegoats.
This too is only partially true. As I wrote earlier in the month, Blanc has worked a minor miracle in the four year association he has held with Juventus. Rescuing the club financially from the abyss of Serie B, working out deals to not only keep the Old Lady competitive, but to also turn a profit while building almost an entirely new stadium.
This is a feat that should not be overlooked, and indeed it is something the Frenchman should rightly be proud.
As I also pointed to recently, the club is in desperate need of new leadership in the form of a new coach, and most importantly a new Sporting Director. Alessio Secco must not be allowed anywhere near this summer's reported £80 million transfer kitty. A real football man must be brought in, given license to imprint a new plan, one thought out over time and executed with skill.
Such men are in short supply, but a club with the stature of Juventus should be able to find one willing to take on the job of overhauling what, on current evidence, is light years away from where it needs to be.
Indeed one could argue that only Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Paolo De Ceglie, Claudio Marchisio, Momo Sissoko, Diego, and Vincenzo Iaquinta deserve places in the Juventus squad on merit.
The club captain, Alessandro Del Piero, can be added to the list, despite his advancing years he is still vital to the cause. Valuable not only for his technical ability, which his age can seemingly not diminish, it was clear against Fulham that his leadership is priceless when games are tight.
Sebastian Giovinco would also be on most people's "keepers" list, but I would argue his true value might only be realised by Juventus as transfer bait. Perhaps his is a bright future but, increasingly it seems, a future spent elsewhere. His signature might make all the difference in securing a player who can help when Juventus need it—right now.
Martin Caceres has impressed hugely this season when available, and his absence seems to only enhance his reputation as those fielded in his place never fail to disappoint. Making his loan move from Barcelona a permanent deal should be an immediate priority.
The time for discussing a discount on the agreed €11m fee is over, and the board needs to do the deal before other, richer clubs come calling. A good World Cup with Uruguay this summer would see that fee seem a bargain.
What is also clear is that Alberto Zaccheroni is not the man to take the club in the future, not even next season. Seeing him stand unmoved on the touchline as Fulham went ahead on aggregate, it was clear he is a man who's ideas are spent. To not make a change as the momentum shifted was bad management, to stand idly by as your team is eliminated is positively criminal. Here too a replacement must be found, and quickly.
The planning for next season should have already begun at Juventus, this season is in effect over already. Over the coming weeks I will continue to breakdown the squad and the necessary improvements and highlighting potential targets. The pain of this season must never be repeated. Lets hope those with the power to ensure this are busy doing just that.
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