Great SoccerNet Article on the Old Lady (1 Viewer)

ADP Timers

Senior Member
Feb 4, 2004
1,837
#1
An Old Lady in trouble

Roberto Gotta

News of the Juventus demise was apparently premature three months ago, when we first dealt with the issue following three defeats in a row for the Turin club. But after Milan all but sent them crashing out of the Scudetto race with a 3-1 win at the Stadio delle Alpi at the weekend their status is much more certain.

Marcello Lippi: High stakes. (AlexLivesey/GettyImages)

As with others in various parts of the world, Italians are quick to jump off the bandwagon as soon as its speed seems to be decreasing, and there are plenty of people now willing not only to do that, but also to start throwing rocks as they insist they were never really on it anyway. Do not accept this drivel: Juventus' season may be turning sour, but it had all the blueprints for success, at least in the minds of the men who planned it.


Those plans were carefully crafted but simply turned out to be wrong. Every step had been taken to give coach Marcello Lippi a first-class squad. Only, it never came to fruition and the fallout will now affect all those involved.

Juve can still apply their well-oiled damage-control skills to the campaign by lifting the Italian Cup after the two-legged final against Lazio which begins next week. They can also secure a Champions League place, but their situation will still be dire following last week's failure to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League by beating Deportivo La Coruna at home.

Moments after last year's defeat in the final against Milan, Lippi issued a rallying call and stated that winning the final would be this season's main goal for him and his team. Otherwise, he added without anyone really believing him, he'd just turn his back on football and spend time with his grandson.

Setting the stakes so high was a gallant attempt by Lippi to inspire his players, but it also meant that once Pandiani scored for Depor in Turin and Juve were left with a mountain to climb, you knew their campaign was going up in flames and the metaphorical guillotines were being set up in the media and among the fans, looking for heads to fall.

Without falling into the populist and crass temptation to issue eternal penalties and fling the culprits into some Dante-created inferno, here's basically what Juventus' problems have been this season:

The defence is growing old and has been far from bullet-proof.
The midfield has not provided the momentum and the goals Juve needed.
Alessandro Del Piero has never been his old self and has become something of a case.
David Trezeguet has been hit by too many injuries and Marco Di Vaio has been unable to score consistently.

Could this have been foretold? Of course! It was actually predicted by some football heavyweights, among them the Juventus directors, but, again, their choices were proved wrong.

Nicola Legrottaglie had been signed at great expense from Chievo to become a fixture in central defence for years to come, but he struggled all season with injuries and suffered a loss of morale after some costly misjudgements that allowed opponents to score.

With Legrottaglie's form suffering Lippi had to opt for the aging partnership of Ciro Ferrara (37) and Paolo Montero (32) for much of the season and that situation said a lot about the dire consequences of making what can be termed now - prematurely, perhaps, if you look at the bigger picture - as a bad signing.

Legrottaglie was even forced into a midfield holding position for the second leg of the Champions League tie against Deportivo. His shaky performance added to the overall feeling that he was out of his depth, although you cannot blame him for being played out of position, nor can you point an accusing finger at Lippi, who has been struggling to find healthy men who could fill the midfield shirts.

Stephane Appiah has been inconsistent and has failed to reproduce the form that made him an instant hit last summer. Pavel Nedved, despite his Ballon d'Or, can not do it alone, and while Enzo Maresca played well when Lippi sent him out on the pitch, displaying some inspired touches and a good eye for goal, he'll probably see much more playing time next season. As for Del Piero, his frustration at another muscle injury in the first stages of the Depor game was obvious and easy to understand: he's now spent most of the season trying to recover from one niggle or another.


Nedved: Most saleable asset (Photo/GettyImages)


To add to his injury troubles there is a growing feeling among Juve followers that Del Piero's mere presence is going to pose a problem. When he's fit you can hardly leave him out. He's Juventus' captain and has been signed on virtually for life (he'll become a director after his playing career is over), but his performances have been less than inspiring, except for a flash or two of brilliance against lowly opponents.

The striker has heard the whispers about the perception that he is washed-up and is determined to come back to full form, but one just wonders what will happen, not only on the domestic front. Juve have cashed in on their best assets in the past - witness Zinedine Zidane's move to Real Madrid three years ago, which has apparently benefited all parties - and may be tempted to raise money from the sale of Del Piero. The alternative is the sale of Nedved, whose values is at its highest, and that will have Roman Abramovich licking his lips.

Currently, the Czech, who's expected to be one of the stars of Euro 2004, has a higher profile than his Italian colleague, whose huge salary makes it all but impossible for another Serie A to sign him but Del Piero could perhaps enjoy a new lease of life abroad. The money from one or two shock moves would be a blessing for Juventus, whose financial state is still among the best in Italian soccer, but has been deteriorating in the last few months.

When the interim financial reports were released last month Juve were shown to be in the red for the first time in years, and their huge off-field commercial activities cannot cover the bad taste left by the lack of income from season and single game tickets.

The depressing sight (and sightlines) of the Stadio Delle Alpi certainly does not appeal to fans. The poorly designed stadium gives new strength to the old saying that architects should be forced to live in the homes they design (or to watch football games in the stadia they plan).

The Delle Alpi hardly encourages Juve's notoriously lethargic Turin following - most of their fans can be found in other parts of Italy - to make the journey and only 27,000 turned out for the season-defining clash with Deportivo.

Sunday's Serie A match against Milan attracted a much bigger crowd but that was due more to the Rossoneri's huge following and to the fact there is always going to be more people interested in watching an old rivalry than a European match. So things could be turning tricky for Juve. Director Luciano Moggi, whose reputation as the (controversial) "king of the calciomercato" has taken a hit following recent failures and the Edgar Davids saga, will be hard pressed to strengthen the squad with the current shortage of money.

Moggi's defiant attitude in public makes you wonder if it's just a cover for his perception that other clubs have been using their money to a better effect. In September, he joked he'd never had signed Kaka because of his name - which in Italian does not remind you of something particularly pleasant. It was his own keeper, Gianluigi Buffon, a bright and funny guy that remarked that if the same reasoning had been applied to him, he would still be at Parma as Buffon means 'clown'.

All of this gnawing of teeth and worrying about the future means Juventus' bad days may be just starting. No one really believes they will plunge back to the dark era of the late Eighties and early Nineties, when some real clowns donned the black-and-white shirt, of course. But mix the need to freshen the squad, the narrowing financial opportunities and the uncertain status of Lippi, who's been rumoured to be longing to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni at the helm of Italy, and you get a worrying picture.

Juve's next coach - whether it's Chievo's Gigi del Neri, fan favourite Luca Vialli or former midfielder and current Monaco boss Didier Deschamps - could have his work cut out. But let's not forget one thing when looking at the Bianconeri's failure to keep up with Milan. Juve may be nine points behind but the Rossoneri are breaking all records for a Serie A 18-team season thanks to the astute job coach Carlo Ancelotti has made in both accommodating his boss Silvio Berlusconi's wish to field an attacking formation and his own tendency not to be too reckless.

Look at the bright picture of a team clicking, at least domestically, in all its parts, and look away from Juve, now. It's not pretty.


Dont know if its a repost or not. Pretty interesting though.
 

Martin

Senior Member
Dec 31, 2000
56,836
#4
++ [ originally posted by Lilianna ] ++
omg..
i can't read all this :wallbang:

a resume would be just perfect
No offence but what is the point of complaining about the lenghth of the article? If it's too long for you then don't read it. :)
 

Elnur_E65

Senior Member
Feb 21, 2004
10,848
#8
It is honest and well-written. It is basically a compilation of all the articles I have read in the past two weeks :)

Feels like a cold shower...
 

Hydde

Duke NUKEM
Mar 6, 2003
36,154
#20
Very good article.... pretty sums it all.


Hope that we will have money to do our signings next season.-... that is what worries me most.
 

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