Let’s face it, with the way Juventus played against Bordeaux on Wednesday night, it would simply be an injustice to football if they were to win this coveted trophy, especially when there are teams like Fiorentina that play with such heart, such organisation and such passion – not that they have a chance of winning either. Bordeaux arrived on the pitch and were determined to outplay the Bianconeri and the Italians seemed to be taken by surprise for the most part in a match that pained Italy to watch. After watching La Viola lift the name of Calcio, both Inter and Juve put in performances to justify exactly why this league is in jeopardy of falling further down the rankings.
When the Juve management announced last season that this team was a long-term project, the fans were unhappy but they had to live with it. It’s reasonable to assume that the journey back to the top is going to take a while and football is all about cycles. So why does a side that is slowly working towards a return to former glory go and splash €50m on two players who, ultimately, weren’t vital, change the entire Juve system, alter the tactics for one man who has never played in Serie A and expect to pull it all off with a rookie Coach on the bench? Creativity was needed and Diego, despite his less than dazzling display on Wednesday, was a good investment but one that shouldn’t have been made if it was always intended that Alessandro Del Piero would continue to play a huge role in the squad. And it is a huge role he that he expects, especially as he is still vying for a place in the Azzurri.
Del Piero cannot play alongside Diego, but imagine what options would have been available to Ferrara had he opted to buy a real replacement for Pavel Nedved. What the Bianconeri really needed was a speedy and strong left winger, a creative playmaker alongside the rock, Momo Sissoko, and an attacking centre back with a real understanding of the game and lightening speed to compliment the brutish charm of Giorgio Chiellini. And perhaps with a little more money in the piggy bank, a substitute for Mauro Camoranesi should have been sought. But if Ferrara does insist on playing both the Captain and Diego together then it can only be done in a 4-3-1-2 formation, meaning that Felipe Melo would have to be the man sacrificed. And, to be very honest, despite the fact that this formation can work, it should either be reserved for a squad that possesses extraordinary talent in the midfield and full-back departments or for Coaches who have great experience in their role, as any clever opposition team can very easily stifle play by playing 4-4-2.
Ferrara may not be in the running for Italy’s next Coach but his players are certainly not making his current role any less pressurised. What is so infuriating is that he has been solely blamed for the loss. Fans are demanding to know why Ciro Immobile was played, why Del Piero started and why Ferrara did not provide sufficient training to the squad so that they could avoid defeat through set pieces. Firstly, Amauri was injured, who else could take his role? It was an unfortunate situation and although Immobile is hardly the man you want in these situations, he was the only player available. Secondly, with such a new and young squad, the experience of Del Piero was essential. Yes, he did struggle a lot but Ferrara felt that his knowledge would trump Sebastian Giovinco’s speed. Finally, and this point irks real fans the most, Ferrara did nothing but hammer in the need to avoid dead-ball situations. He reiterated the importance of not fouling players just outside the box but it was like talking to a brick wall – the amount of free kicks conceded was just laughable. Ciro’s players really let him down in France, both with their attitude and with their blatant disregard of his comments.
By no means is Ferrara entirely blameless either. He too made silly mistakes that contributed to Juve’s dismal defeat and the first was playing Melo in place of Christian Poulsen, who has finally begun to truly grasp the definition of the role. It makes sense to bench a player who is faltering and replace him with a player who is rediscovering his form, who is determined to prove his worth and who played well last game. Secondly, Giovinco was bought on far too late in the game and his speed could well have punished a Bordeaux team that were surely tiring after playing such a high tempo game. Thirdly, Ferrara needed to take control and drop the good guy act. He must discipline and he must punish those who perform below par, despite their star status. And for those who conceded the set pieces, they should be made to suffer. But despite these mistakes, Ferrara does have good ideas and it’s important to allow him the time to express them. Juventus lost the game last night as a whole, the management, the players and the Coach. It was a collective effort and certainly not entirely Ferrara’s fault.
It appears the Old Lady was unwise to have put faith in an inexperienced Coach but since she did, she has two options from here on in. She could replace the Coach with a man who may be better at disciplining his squad and who could potentially stabilise this Juve side. Or, alternatively, she can begin to really build a side, by adopting a system that will work. This may mean that she has to sell-off some great stars in order to bring in those that tessellate with their shape and system but buying two big names will not win her the Champions League and if you were expecting that then delusion is your friend. Juventus need to stick with one formation, they need to listen to their Coach and they need to invest wisely. We don’t want to see the Old Lady mimicking Barcelona, scoring five goals and playing champagne football. We want to see the real Juve – the one that wins again and again. Stabilising Juventus and forging an identity cannot be done with the hiring and firing of Coaches.
Back to the domestic league and Juventus face Cagliari next, a team that knows how to play well. A loss there and Juventus will have truly lost their last hope of a coveted trophy this season.
Juventus Club Focus 2009/10
Great expectations – August 21, 2009
When in Rome – August 28, 2009
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire – September 1, 2009
World Champions – One in, one out, one remembered – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Children should be seen, not heard – September 7, 2009
Diego lost to injury in victorious Roman repeat – September 15, 2009
The reserves exposed – September 18, 2009
Transforming the formation – September 23, 2009
The cruel blow of lady injustice – September 25, 2009
Haunted by the ghost of last year’s defence – September 29, 2009
We’re meant to be happy with one point? – October 2, 2009
Is it now time to be negative? – October 6, 2009
Ferrara: public enemy #1 – October 9, 2009
Bad or just misunderstood? – October 13, 2009
Let the bitterness commence – October 16, 2009
Oh Ferrara, will you ever learn? – October 20, 2009
Ferrara, thank you for listening – October 23, 2009
Sampdoria will provide the real test – October 27, 2009
Introducing the real Juve – October 30, 2009
Why are we not surprised? – November 3, 2009
The many faces of Juve – November 6, 2009
A team of hyperboles – November 10, 2009
And we’re back – November 20, 2009
Del Piero returns as subordinate players give encouraging displays – November 24, 2009
Failure reverberates throughout the club – November 24, 2009