Evidently Juventus are suffering and everyone at the club has been blamed for the crisis with good reason. Management has been criticised for poorly conducted transfer campaigns, players have been accused of playing without passion and determination and the Coach has been condemned for his poor tactics. However, whichever way you look at it, the problem with Juventus is purely psychological. Everyone from the management down to the Coach and his players are suffering from the weight of this prestigious jersey and the pressure has become too much to bear as none of these people are well acquainted with the notion of infinite success.
Playing and indeed working at Juventus requires something more than talent – it requires mental strength. Unfortunately this mental strength is missing from all areas and as such, we continue to witness a psychologically weak Juventus acting as a provincial side that relentlessly falls prey to panicked dealings.
Starting with management, they arrived with a clear plan but succumbed to panic almost immediately and began to act hastily. Rather than stick with the current spine of the team and work on the areas that required bolstering, they changed everything too quickly and in doing so made several mistakes. One was unloading Diego for such a paltry sum. The most significant was the decision to purchase Jorge Martinez for such a high price. Beppe Marotta has since explained they overspent as they desperately required another winger in time for the Europa League qualifiers but if they analysed the player properly then they would have gathered that he is a type of winger best suited to a 4-3-3 formation and not to Del Neri’s 4-4-2 that focuses heavily on the work rate of the wingers. That ill-advised purchase was clearly the result of panic as were the purchases of Armand Traore and Leandro Rinaudo as full-backs.
With regards to the players, David Trezeguet put it best when he said: “Juventus need to sign three champions who are used to winning trophies, not eight who are used to finishing in fourth place.” Purchasing champions does not solely buy you outrageous flair – it buys you a strong mentality and the will to fight until the dying minutes of the game. In the match against Bologna, only Alessandro Del Piero seemed desperate to find a goal whilst the rest of the squad sank deeper into low self-esteem – typical for players unaccustomed to fighting for top honours. With a team that can no longer depend on Milos Krasic’s creativity, it is evident from the match against Parma, that they now doubt their ability to cope without individual talent.
As for the Coach, it appears he has also given into panic. Being a great tactician who is well versed in the art of psychological training will get you the job but staying true to your ideals and your vision of the game under increasing pressure and mounting criticism is quite the other. Luigi Del Neri is beginning to lose himself and by trying to adapt to the ideas of those around him, he has begun to lose games. The problem with the match against Bologna was that the Coach lost confidence in his methods. He attempted to be versatile by changing the shape of the squad and it resulted in a terrible loss as his high defence were left exposed yet again. What he should have done was stayed faithful to his vision.
However you look it, Juventus have two options. Either they continue to believe they are giants of the game by working diligently, ruthlessly and with composition as they add a champion to the ranks each year or they accept they are no longer a big team and rid themselves of the pressure. What will it be?