So, here we are. As most Juve players return from their Summer break this week, we have reached the final chapter of our JuventiKnows 2011-12 Season Ratings. To conclude what we hope has been an enjoyable series, the spotlight turns on those working behind the scenes to deliver the remarkable success enjoyed by the Bianconeri throughout last season.
Obviously, time and space restrict those we can focus upon: sadly the tealadies, secretaries, and doormen all miss out as the analysis is narrowed down to the important trio of Coach, Sporting Director and President. To simplify matters and avoid argument we have given a single rating to Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici, recognising the fact that, while the former concentrates on business matters and the latter is the Head of Scouting, the criteria by which we base our judgement (basically who they signed, sold, and for how much) is a role which they share.
Please feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section, and also revisit the previous installments by following the link at the foot of this piece. We hope you have enjoyed the series and the debate it has created.
Until next year…
|Aaron: 9.5||Adam: 9.0||
Match Reports AVG.
|☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆||Lars: 9.0||John: 9.0||☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆||Marco: 9.0||Mike: 9.0|
Aaron: 9.5 – It’s impossible to understate what an incredible job our former Capitano has done. Given a team that had failed miserably in the last two years, he led Juventus to a stunning undefeated season (and quite nearly a Scudetto/Coppa double) all the while maintaining the best defense in Europe! He’s truly a phenomenal motivator, but an incredible tactician as well, as he flawlessly switched between a 4-4-2, a 4-2-3-1, a 4-3-3, and a 3-5-2 as the season went on. Made some odd choices as he went along, but he was truly the difference-maker.
Adam: 9.0 – As much as Pirlo was praised all campaign, Antonio Conte is undoubtedly the biggest factor in the amazing transformation of the Bianconeri. Far more tactically astute than anyone in the game gave him credit for, his use of 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 was almost as superb as his motivation and man-management of a squad which while laden with quality still has undoubted flaws. Simply put: he is a revelation on the bench.
Lars: 9.0 – After the disappointment with Ferrara and the two disastrous campaigns leading up to his appointment, many, this writer included, were skeptical about hiring another coach with limited Serie A experience. No one would question Conte’s personal motivation to rescue his Old Lady, nor his ability transmit truckloads of grinta into the players… but how about the technical and tactical side of things? As it happened, Conte proved to be not just a very good coach, but quite simply THE man for the job. From the get-go, he proved a Mister of action (bye-bye Ziegler) and of flexibility (adapting the team to Pirlo – and vice versa – whilst changing and tweaking formations to perfection). Apart from a couple of games in early Spring, Conte had the Bianconeri playing like clockwork and dominating their opponents to a degree rarely seen before in Turin (that the domination did not always result in many goals is more the fault of the players than the coach, whose system created chances aplenty). There are a few questions one could pose to Conte: why stick with Mirko when he was not delivering? Why bench Matri when he was our biggest goalscoring threat? Why not give Elia more of a run? Why use Del Piero so sparingly? At the end of the day however, we won the freaking Scudetto! AND made it to the Coppa Italia final, ousting AC Milan on the way. An achievement that looked impossible at the beginning of last year and one that makes such questions fade into the background. Conte delivered more than he had promised – on all levels – making his debut season a wonderfully successful one.
John: 9.0 – When he was brought in to right the ship after yet another disappointing season, I had my doubts. I wasn’t well versed on his coaching/management style or tactical preference, but for obvious reasons I had concerns we were dealing with Cirlo Ferrara 2.0. Of course, that was a bad analogy – Conte at least had senior team management experience, although limited top-flight. Well, as he lead Juventus from above-average to unbeaten and Champions of Italy, thanks to Conte I remembered what terms like “lo stile Juve” and “grinta” mean. Well done, Mister!
Marco: 9.0 – Without the shadow of a doubt, THE architect of Juve’s renewal this season. Team unity, individual brilliance, change of mentality, etc. were yes, principal factors of the Scudetto this year, but Antonio Conte is the man that brought them all together. He assembled them, carefully dropped them into a giant cauldron, and proceeded to cook us the most hearty & savory of stews. A winning mentality he already had as a player. This year, his first coaching a major, competitive Serie A club, he demonstrated his mentality has not changed one iota but more importantly, to be capable of instilling it into his players. Displaying simultaneously traits of determined conviction (e.g. generally making his substitutions late in the game) and willingness to experiment (as exemplified by three or four MAJOR tactical switches this year), always accompanied by his characteristic perfectionism, Conte took the reins of this team and carried it to victory. As the chant says, ♫ Senza di te non andremo lontano, Antonio Conte il nostro capitano!! ♪
Mike: 9.0 – I met Antonio Conte last Summer in New York. Despite witnessing first-hand the sheer inspiration he brings with his mere presence, I remained pessimistic with my expectations for Juve before this season started, mostly doubting Conte’s tactical prowess and ability to both read the game and have Juventus perform effectively. Not that I thought he would be poor, I just did not expect him to be magnificent. My only desire for 2011-12 was to see a Juve that fought on the field, that beat the shit out of opponents, and if that meant dominating a match but losing 1-2… so be it. More than silverware, more than A CL Top 3 finish, I wanted to see that “Tough Old Broad” that I fell in love with so long ago and have missed since. Antonio Conte brought my lady back to be, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Though he gets -0.5 for not using Del Piero more (& another -0.5 for the Borriello obsession), the fact that Conte brought a club from a mid-table finish last year to an Undefeated Serie A Championship is the stuff of legends. Luckily for us, this new tale of glory has only just begun. IN CONTE WE TRUST!!
|Beppe MAROTTA & Fabio PARATICI|
|Aaron: 8.0||Adam: 9.0||
Match Reports AVG.
|☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆||Lars: 8.0||John: 8.0||☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆||Marco: 8.0||Mike: 8.5|
Aaron: 8.0 – The work the duo have done is to be applauded: Beppe Marotta & his right-hand man Fabio Paratici have signed great players (Vidal, Pirlo, Lichtsteiner, Cáceres, Vucinic), but most importantly of all, players suited to Juventus all the while keeping the wage bill reasonable. Though spending a significant amount of money in the last two years (with more than a few poor transfers in the lot), this season was a vast improvement: with funds available, Marotta & Paratici should be able to woo top talent with an ambitious team and shiny new stadium.
Adam: 9.0 – Juve’s two-headed transfer market monster have proven the doubters wrong in emphatic fashion this term. The addition of Stephan Lichtsteiner filled the team’s biggest gap while Vidal and Pirlo reshaped last season’s functional midfield. The January capture of Martin Cáceres also made a huge difference, giving Conte the tactical options needed to get the squad over the line in first place. They face another huge test this Summer as they bid to bring a ‘top player’ to the club while shipping out players such as Felipe Melo, Milos Krasic, and Eljero Elia.
Lars: 8.0 – Marotta & Paratici’s work was always going to be evaluated over a longer stretch than a single season, but Juventus having just won the Scudetto, this actually seems like a perfect time to judge the duo’s progress! Taking over the mess left by Alessio Secco (with the shadow of Luciano Moggi looming large over every move) was always going to be tough, and while the pair did manage to spend quite hefty sums to no apparent avail in seasons past, expecting them to “waltz in, clear out, and rebuild” like a man pulling the strings atop the calcio-pyramid for a decade was not just optimistic, but completely unreasonable. As evidenced in the last couple of mercati, Marotta and Paratici are getting into things, acting like a dG/dS proper, netting Barzagli, Matri, Pirlo, Lichtsteiner, Vidal, and longer periods of “Good Vucinic” than expected (along with some other fine signings both for the long and short-term). There have been misses as well (Elia being the current case in point) but as always within a dS/coach structure, the outcome of an investment is not in the hands of only one party. As both Marotta, Paratici, and Conte look set to stay at the club for the long haul, there is every reason to believe that they will develop an even better understanding down the line, something which can only bode well for the years to come.
John: 8.0 – The tandem arrived two years ago with a very tall order: reduce the wage bill, clear out the old farts whose contracts were inexplicably extended by Alessio Secco & Co., and begin a two-year project back towards respectability. Well, I never imagined that two years later, the season would end in the manner with which it has. The Primavera looks solid, most of the expensive deadweight handcuffing future progress has been cleared out, and last Summer’s additions of Pirlo, Vidal, and Lichtsteiner (all for €20m at the most) were a stroke of genius. Minus 0.5 in the rating because, in my opinion, Marotta & Paratici failed to land that elusive big fish (although Vucinic found his form at just the right time). This summer will be decisive as Juve look to deepen their squad for Champions League contention. With the additions of Asamoah, Isla, Lúcio and the return of Giovinco, we’re off to a good start, arguably one world-class striker away from doing some serious damage. The question remains: can Marotta land him?
Marco: 8.0 – Getting rid of the dead weight (Motta, Amauri, Iaquinta, Toni)… check. Patching up the team’s biggest defensive hole (right-back) by acquiring solid replacements (Lichtsteiner/Cáceres)… check. Acquiring a warrior-type defensive midfielder to replace Melo but without the “douchebag factor” (Vidal)… check. Getting us a world-class player AND doing it without spending a dime AND at the same time removing him from the roster of our most serious Serie A rivals (Pirlo)… check. The only two areas where Marotta / Paratici failed this year was being unable to secure a top striker (but then again, who can compete with the money Man City throws around) and spending €10m on Eljero Elia. Aside from that, a fantastic job, only further enhanced by the many excellent acquisitions on the youth level (Beltrame, Spinazzola, Bouy). I am considerably optimistic for the Summer mercato.
Mike: 8.5 – Great moves to bring in Lichtsteiner, Pirlo, Vidal, Cáceres, Vucinic, all for relatively cheap. Big props for the tricky sale of Amauri, but the Borriello loan was a huge step backward. Looking forward to this Summer’s transfer market.
|Aaron: 7.5||Adam: 7.0||
Match Reports AVG.
|☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆||Lars: 7.5||John: 7.0||☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆||Marco: 7.0||Mike: 7.0|
Aaron: 7.5 – It has not been smooth, but ultimately, in 2 years Juventus has completely transformed from a pathetic Europa League team into a competitive force to be reckoned with. Beppe Marotta and Antonio Conte have done great work, proof that Andrea Agnelli put his faith in the right men. As Adam said multiple times however, the president’s media strategy leaves a lot to be desired.
Adam: 7.0 – Tough to criticise a man who did so much for Juventus, but the President really needs to learn how to speak in front of the media. The decisions to not extend the contract of Alessandro Del Piero, or put a third star on the Juventus shirt, are both completely understandable yet – because of his poor handling of each – Andrea Agnelli has two huge PR disasters on his hands this year.
Lars: 7.5 – Much like Marotta, it is evident that Andrea Agnelli needed a bit of time to adjust to his new role as Head-of-All. While the overall strategy he and the board have adopted has proven to be an excellent one, there has been the occasional blip (“we will go to [French] Ligue 1!” etc.), and we all know the Del Piero business could have been handled more delicately. In other cases, Andrea needs to perhaps remember that while he will (and should) always remain a fan, the role of President demands political (read: diplomatic) skills as well. The 3 stars/30 sul campo-shirt mess could have easily been avoided, had the strategy been clear and the consequences assessed properly beforehand. Andrea is a very bright guy however, and a fast learner, so I am very confident that his reign will be a successful one, bearing comparison to his esteemed ancestors. In fact, looking at the people mentioned in these STAFF pagelle, their respective qualities and experiences gained, I think the club is in very VERY good hands.
John: 7.0 – He loves the club, and has shown a willingness to inject massive amounts of his family’s fortune into it. I’m still incredibly bitter about the third star issue however: if he’d said from the get-go that Juve weren’t going to put it on the shirt, I’d have understood, but Instead Andrea suddenly expressed a change of heart and opted to take the classy road. I will say that absent three stars, I like the idea of putting none on there whatsoever — but it would have sent a stronger message if they chose that option only after the FIGC/CONI forced their hand. You can bet your boots that I will not be splurging the €80.00 required to buy a shirt from the Juventus store, where only there can you exclusively purchase the third star edition.
Marco: 7.0 – There’s many things Andrea needs to be lauded for. First, he’s an Agnelli, a name synonymous with success & tradition in Turin. After years of Cobolli Giglis, Elkanns, and Jean-Claude Blancs, who reacted to the whole Farsopoli affair by essentially giving Guido Rossi the whip and then bending over, it is an absolute step in the right direction to have a president finally willing to fight back, taking all the steps necessary to repair & safeguard the Juventus name. Secondly, he is the president under which Juve finally launched its new stadium, although that is a bit akin to Barack Obama taking credit for killing Osama Bin Laden: others laid the groundwork before him (still, that opening ceremony was absolutely fantastic). Thirdly, he’s a president who’s *proud* of his Black & White heritage and more importantly has been able to transmit this pride (with the help of Conte this year) to the PLAYERS and us, the FANS: we feel honor & joy again to be wearing Bianconero colors. However, Andrea Agnelli will also forever be known as the president who did not renew Alessandro Del Piero’s contract and, even more embarrassingly, “liquidated” him during a November shareholders meeting. Leaving the debate of “ADP can still be useful to Juve” at the door, Juventus will always be Juventus – before and after Del Piero – but surely the most iconic player to have ever donned the Black & White shirt merited a better treatment. Or at least, a better epilogue.
Mike: 7.0 – I think most Juve fans will agree that Andrea Agnelli has made some pretty big mistakes this season, fumbling some very close-to-heart issues for club supporters (Alessandro Del Piero’s Contract, next season’s kit, the invite list for Juventus Stadium’s Opening Ceremony, etc.), but we need to remember that one of the disadvantages of having a young president is that inevitable lack of experience. That being said, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives and Andrea can only learn from his mistakes. As Andrea grows in footballing power over the next few years, it will be an interesting and exciting adventure for all Juve fans along for the ride. I am especially curious to see how his “justice for Calciopoli” initiative concludes.