Rafa Benitez is on the brink of being Juventus’ next Coach this summer according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Having agreed in principle to sign a costly contract to bring the Spaniard in, it seems no cost will be spared by John Elkann to return this team to past glory. However, if it is the affection of the Juventini he is after then he is better off chasing the mastermind that is Cesare Prandelli.
There are many reasons why Prandelli would be the perfect choice for Juve and least of all because he’s Italian and an ex-Bianconero. The Coach has effectively delivered what he promised and reconstructed a Viola side that have marvelled domestically and stunned critics on the European stage. He took on a team that was desperate to fight relegation and led them to a top four finish in his first season in charge allowing the purple squad a place in the Champions League. His phenomenal work with Fiorentina coupled with his father-like approach to the game has slowly seen this man rightfully earn his reputation as one of Italy’s most astute tacticians. Now as for Juventus, they are just coming off a cursed season and the board have finally realised that a project must be put in place in hope of recapturing past glory. So who better to take on this venture than a man who once hoped to grow up to be an architect? His love of thinking, of building and of creating makes him an idyllic choice and this article will hope to explain why.
His most acknowledged strength as a Coach is his ability to nurture youth. Having worked with Atalanta’s youth team, he is aware of the exact methods required to transform a youngster into a fully fledged star by respecting them, having faith in them and depending on them. You only need to see Stevan Jovetic’s form this season to understand Prandelli’s ability. He created sensations with Atalanta’s youth squad and with a Bianconeri youth side that is brimming with talent – the charismatic Coach has the right credentials to take these boys one step further and promote a certain few into the first-team. That is not to mention the potential that already lies within Sebastian Giovinco and Paolo de Ceglie that is longing to be realised. Alongside youth, he also has the capability of bringing out the best in players who perhaps yearn for a fatherly figure that could help them unleash their talent. He helped the likes of Adrian Mutu and Alberto Gilardino break out of their shells and exploit their strengths, turning them into the star performers they were once thought to have been. With Prandelli’s fostering approach to training, underperformers Diego and Felipe Melo could perhaps find the support and confidence needed to meet or even exceed expectations.
The fans have been crying out for a 4-2-3-1 formation – one that would be perfect for this current Juve squad and one that Prandelli is famous for adopting. He is notorious for deploying a more practical interpretation of the formation by working with a target man upfront and an adaptable midfielder, such as Melo, at the back. With this style of play, the Brazilians would find their niche within his tactics and have the freedom to roam on the pitch. Furthermore, it would also mean that many stars would be allowed to stay and thus the money Juve have to spend can be used to overhaul the defence.
Speaking of the back line – Fiorentina is the watchword for defence. The ex-Bianconero has created a team that is highly organised and incredibly tight. Due to close marking and effective organisation, la Viola rarely afford their opposition any space on the ball. They may be conservative in their approach to goal scoring but they strive to press forward in a highly intense manner, often capable of utilising the little space they find. Defence is now the main concern for Juventus and having a man that can work to stop the leak at the back should be their first priority.
Despite his defensive capabilities, the Tactician does not shy away from any risk-taking and often adopts adventurous tactics to maintain his unpredictability. In the match against Genoa earlier in the season, Prandelli played Mutu, Jovetic and Gilardino all together and despite losing 2-1, la Viola put in a thrilling performance. Fielding an aggressive attacking trio like that one proves that Prandelli has both the confidence and gumption to build an assertive Juve side that will not play for a draw as they so often have done these past few seasons.
As a man who once described Rafa as a ‘role model’ for the way he organises both his team and dressing room – it might just be that Prandelli has perfected Rafa’s technique thus making him a wise choice. After all, Luciano Moggi once had his eye on him.