Juventus Coaching Search: How To Solve a Problem Like Diego (and Giovinco)
It seems following the Juventus board meeting on Monday, all parties involved have finally admitted defeat in the quest to bring current Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez to the club for next season. It is believed he had been the choice for some time and considerable effort had been put into acquiring his services.
Whatever the positive and negatives of this decision to find an alternative, what it does do is throw up a number of important questions. Given the poor performance of Juventus this season, it is vital that this summer sees a raft of changes throughout the club in order to ensure another year like this never happens again.
These have already begun, with the appointment of Andrea Agnelli as President and Giuseppe Marotta as Director General. What these two men bring to the club is an understanding of what Juventus needs and the intelligence and resources to provide it.
The summer transfer campaign will be vital, and must be approached with forethought and planning, unlike in recent years. The choice of coach will play a vital role in this, as whoever takes charge will need to be in place for a number of years, to bring stability and prestige back to the club, which have both suffered as the club searches for its sixth coach in four years.
Each coach obviously has his own tactical ideas, and the board must provide a squad tailored to suit their chosen man's preferred system. One positive of the Benitez plan was that the squad was already suited to his style and would need only a few new additions to strengthen it.
This brings us to the new names being mentioned as favourites for the post, namely Cesare Prandelli of Fiorentina and Luigi Del Neri of Sampdoria. Both are essentially "4-4-2 men" and this brings with it yet another set of issues.
With the appointment of Ferrara last year, and the subsequent addition of Brazilian playmaker Diego, the club basically sacrificed its wide players and brought in central midfield players to fit in with the coach's plan.
While there is a clear lack of players able to provide speed out wide, the club did enjoy one of its better spells of the season when Diego was out injured and Alberto Zaccheroni reverted to the more traditional shape. The central midfielders at the club suit that formation far better than a three-man set-up, the absence of a regista has nullified any attempt to employ it successfully.
All of this matters little with the continued presence of Diego, an expensive addition on who the club will be reluctant to take a loss after just one season. Quite how either of the suggested coaches would utilise his undoubted talent remains to be seen, and their ideas on this very point could be the factor that decides who fills the bench in Turin next season.
Diego is not quick enough to play as a wide player, and is too slight to play in the centre of midfield. Perhaps playing him in a more advanced role, as a second striker would be the solution, filling a role occupied by Antonio Cassano and Stefan Jovetic for the two coach's at their current clubs.
One other positive of reverting to a 4-4-2 shape is the use of Sebastian Giovinco who's career has stuttered since returning from a stellar loan spell at Empoli two years ago. His best performances for Juventus since have been in wide areas, against Chelsea in the Champions League and Sampdoria late last year, a game Juve won 5-1 with Giovinco the undoubted star.
A prolonged run in a position suiting his best skills is the only way to let the player show he belongs at the club. Talk of using him as transfer bait has heightened in recent weeks, but to lose such a prodigious talent would be a crime, and fans of the club would see it as further evidence of the clubs departure from the very values they hold dearest.
Much rests on the choice of coach then, but Agnelli has Juventus in his blood and Marotta is simply the best in the world at what he does. If they make the right choice, Juventus will be where they, and all their fans so desperately want to be.
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