The New Year brings with it new opportunities, challenges and hopefully a clean slate when it comes to Juventus.
Juve would do well to put the games before the Christmas break out of their mind and look to what they can do to keep the fans from hurling produce at them or costing the club 10 million Euros! The replacement of Ciro Ferrara was never a long term solution, but nevertheless the Juve board did view it as a possible short term solution, and this notion that he could soon be replaced will always linger in the back of Ferrara’s mind. Jean Claude Blanc has always insisted that Ferrara’s job was never at risk, but when you then offer a huge wage slip to the likes of Luiz Felipe Scolari, it can get a bit confusing and also insulting. Furthermore, just to add insult to injury, the only reason Ciro has still got his job is because Scolari turned them down. Guus Hiddink is strongly favoured to take over from Ferrara, however the agent of the coach has strongly denied that Guus is thinking about this saying, “There is no route to Italy – the rest is made up of meaningless items.”
Juventus have decided to use the Christmas break wisely, and like every person this time of the year they are also enjoying the sales. They are reported to be ready to buy Cristian Ledesma for £3 million – all of Juve’s transfers rely heavily on the selling of Tiago to Atletico Madrid by agreeing to buy him after his loan period expires, freeing Juventus to re- invest. In the off chance that they are not able to benefit from his services there is always Guti of Real Madrid, who is more of a benchwarmer than anything else at Madrid. The 33-year-old attacking midfielder will be looking forward to prove that with age comes a fountain of wisdom. Juventus’s midfielders have been rather poor of late, especially Felipe Melo who has been labelled “the worst signing of the summer.” And has even won the “Golden Bin” award. This has spurred on Melo even harder to prove to Juve that he is worth the £20 million they spent on him last summer.
The Old Lady is not one to wait around for Melo to be ready and they have re-approached Udinese midfielder Gaetano D’ Agostino. Last summer they had the opportunity to acquire his talents but opted for Melo instead, which looked like a better deal but has not worked out that way. This time things are different with there being tension amongst Udinese and D’Agostino, and his fee is also considerably less meaning Juve will only have to pay out £8 million to snatch him up – a move he may be inclined to take since he does not get as much playing time at Udinese.
People often forget the Bianconeri are still in third place (which is an achievement considering their poor defending) in a very long campaign. The one player that seems to have faith in the ability of the team to bounce back is Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon has put some perspective on the current situation by reminding everyone that Juve are still challenging on three fronts: Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Europa League which commences in February. The game with Parma has just increased its importance by a mile, now that Ciro’s job is on the line. Parma is currently sitting in fifth place and only two points separates them. The continued reference to the imminent arrival of Hiddink has forced Ferrara to try to go to the old tried and tested 4-4-2 formation with Diego partnering with David Trezeguet. The Bianconeri tried this formation in the friendly against Al Hittiad and it resulted in a 2-2 draw. This formation will signify the side will be more compact and efficient and allow Diego to be in the area where he can do the most damage, and also they will not have to rely on him so much, which in all fairness did make Juve slightly predictable last year.
Parma will view this game as a chance to get back on track and leave the thoughts of losing to Roma firmly in 2009. Their first match against the likes of Juventus can provide a serious boost to their confidence, a win will be even better because then they will be level with Milan in second place. Quite an achievement, considering they were in Serie B last season.