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Feature: Massimiliano Allegri one to watch on this summer’s coaches carousel

Massimiliano Allegri is wrapping up his fourth year at Juventus. According to many, his last. Let’s take a look at the Tuscan manager’s profile as rumours associate him to Premiership sides, primarily Arsenal.

 

Massimiliano (Max) Allegri was installed at Juventus in July of 2014 among shouts, protests, and shock among bianconeri fans. The Tuscan man from Livorno had just come off a three year stint in Milan, where he oversaw a transitioning rossoneri side, slings and arrows included. His car punched and kicked on the way into Juventus’ training centre in Vinovo.

Four years later, Juventus has not only continued on its glorious path of consecutive scudetti but have nearly missed two historic trebles (domestic league, domestic cup and Champions League). Allegri has converted most of his doubters into believers.

Even the most avid doubter of Allegri among Juve fans is appreciative of his work over the last four years, but will purport that the time has come for a new coach to breathe new energy to spur players to more victories. Even good coaches can go “stale” after a while, and – even though nothing has been finalized yet – the general consensus is that this is the end of the road for the Tuscan in Turin.

As Allegri gets on the coaches’ carousel that’s taking shape in Europe, thanks in part to Wenger’s retirement, Sarri’s seemingly imminent departure from Naples, Conte’s creaking bench, and Ancelotti and Emery currently unemployed, let’s take a look at the Tuscan’s features.

 

STRENGTHS

Allegri’s incremental and calm approach lends itself well to nursing promising young talent to maturity, as he has with the likes of Alvaro Morata and Paolo Dybala. It may be frustrating at times to see youngsters who are touted as the next best thing sitting on the bench for half a season, until they come on and have a cracker of a second half of the season. Allegri has been known to do that.

Allegri has been able to add tactical diversity to Juventus. Once a one-trick 3-5-2 pony under Conte, Juventus’ tactical arsenal grew under Allegri. A four-man defence was introduced with three midfielders, an attacking midfielder supporting two strikers in 2014-15 (4-3-1-2); which later evolved to a 4-2-3-1, which gave Juventus a more “European” look.

Allegri is a survivor. He is an adaptable man who is not tied to a specific type of game play, ascribing to the “great player” theory. While you won’t read pieces that exult the Tuscan’s ability to play champagne football, he has been able to withstand major personnel change at both Milan and Juventus. In Milan’s case, the revolution was too deep (too many veterans from the 2007 Champions League winning side retired at once) and Allegri paid the price. At Juventus, he was able to withstand and create a winner despite the departures of Vidal, Tevez, Pirlo, Pogba, and Bonucci.

Allegri may not be the most celebrated Champions League coach, but he has a knack for reaching the knock out round of the Europe’s elite competition. 

 

NEUTRAL

Allegri is not one who obsesses about tactics or physical fitness. His approach seems pedestrian at times, which can frustrate some fans. As mentioned above, he’s not on the same side of the spectrum as the likes of Guardiola, Sarri, etc. when it comes to tactics or game play. His focus is on putting great players in the conditions to showcase their talent – his most bitter critics will say that Allegri’s poor management is bailed out by great individual feats.

Juventus fans who were used to Conte’s physically aggressive side were disappointed to see a slower, less physically fit side – mainly due to Allegri’s less physically taxing preseason preparation. This translates to tired legs at the beginning of the season, but also his sides tend to have more gas in the tank toward the end of the season – which was needed for Juventus in the last few years (playing some 60 matches per season) as they went deep in all competitions.

Allegri tows the company line. He gets orders from the club brass and follows it to a tee. No ambiguous statements are made during pressers, or dirty laundry aired in public. On the other hand, this means that he will not press for a certain transfer to be made or player not to depart.

Allegri has great human qualities. He always preaches “calma” (calmness) and balance, which is helpful in a difficult environment and employs an incremental, slow build up approach. This has proven successful at Juventus. Too calm, too still, according to others when a spark is needed.

 

WEAKNESSES

In England,  it’s not unusual to see new transfers thrown into matches the day after they arrive. Fans of an English premiership side managed by Allegri might grow frustrated in seeing young talent be used with a dropper. Allegri’s critics would say that the Tuscan would sooner allow a youngster to rot on the bench before throwing him into the mix. His gradual phasing in of young and new players has proven successful with Morata and Dybala, as mentioned above, but has not worked so well with others like Rugani, for example. Many feel that Allegri is too risk adverse in this respect.

No manager is immune to tactical gaffes. Juventus fans bemoan Allegri’s choice to propose the same formation against Real Madrid in the 2017-18 Champions League quarter final that featured in Cardiff 10 months prior – both turning out to be crushing defeats.

Allegri’s teams often come out flat right after the break, which speaks to his ability as a motivator. Allegri, ascribes to a decentralized model of communications. Under Allegri veterans often have to step up and be heard in the media to provide leadership. With his model, it’s harder to keep control of club communications and that the mood in the change room can be exposed to the public.

 

CONCLUSION

Winning four consecutive domestic doubles is something that will hardly be repeated in Serie A, and is something that Allegri can and should be credited for. This balance, adaptability to change, multiple tactical solutions, patience with youngsters, Champions League record makes him a coach ideal for any European side challenging for a Champions League berth – with a chance to achieve domestic glory.

Avid follower of Italian football for over 25 years. I first learned to play soccer in the idle streets of the periphery of a small southern Italian town, often using stones as goalposts. Blogger for www.CatenaccioNA.blogspot.com, and contributer for www.italianfootballdaily.com. Follow me @CatenaccioNA.

@ItalianFD

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