Identity is key to life and its importance is no different in football. The past 12 months has seen identity come to the forefront in the thinking of football, in no small part thanks to Barcelona. It has posed questions as to the identity and ethos of clubs and national teams. Italy’s national game is under constant questioning and scrutiny with the Azzurri going through a transitional period and Calcio trying to get back to its feet after Calciopoli. A prime example of a club going through such questioning of identity is the most successful team in Italian football – Juventus.
Calciopoli brought Juventus to its knees and forced La Vecchia Signora to rethink and reconstruct in an effort not just to return form akin to their glorious past but minus the ethical relapses that saw their reputation sink below the waterline of fair play. It has presented them with a unique opportunity to start a fresh and set out a new identity. They have been through a few Coaches of late and have now turned to a familiar face in Antonio Conte to guide the team closer to a return to the heights they desperately crave.
It seems the idea Juventus have is to reinvigorate their previously established identity as opposed to creating something completely new. Forging a new identity requires patience and can take a number of years, something that cannot be expected from supporters in the modern footballing and indeed social climate, never mind a club with the great weight of history and expectations of Juventus.
It could be said that there is little wrong with the club structure from the past and that Calciopoli, to use a metaphor, simply deflated the club as opposed to the decimating effect some have initially portrayed. Iconography of Juventus’ past has been introduced lower down the coaching structure in addition to Conte’s arrival with the first team – the recent arrival of Fabrizio Ravanelli to the youth setup attracting a fair amount of attention. This consultation of the past could well stand them in good stead for the future and in doing so enabling the club to maintain a strong identity.
The clubs transfer policy has been one of refinement this season after last season’s more miss-than-hit nature. Despite not being able to offer European football next season, Juventus are a name linked to genuine star quality. The thought that they could potentially sign a player of Sergio Agüero’s standing shows that Juventus remain a big name in football and will surely serve as a boost to the club. This prestige of history gives the Bianconeri a considerable advantage in the rebuild stakes and they do not appear too far away from returning to challenge for the Scudetto.
The coming season offers Juventus with the opportunity to focus solely on the league. With no European excursions to distract them, the season mapped out ahead of them is the basic fixture list they will share with Serie A’s minnows. It is of course something that can be used as a source of motivation for the Bianconeri. With the likes of Conte and Ravanelli to reinforce the symbolic nature of La Vecchia Signora, the back-to-basics approach may work the wonders they desire.