Juventus Feature: Massimiliano Allegri

Juventus Feature: Massimiliano Allegri

In July 2014, Massimiliano Allegri was appointed the new coach of Juventus, replacing Antonio Conte, who resigned just hours before the new hire. Allegri’s hire was not received well initially by Juventus fans, who criticized the club’s choice to hire him. A reason for this might simply have been that Conte was a fan favorite, leading Juve to the Serie A title all three years with the club, and the Supercoppa Italiana title in 2012 and 2013. Despite all of the skepticism he was walking into, Massimiliano Allegri knew he only had to do one thing to win the fans over – win.

At just 49 years old, Allegri has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his career of both playing and managing. He began his professional soccer career as a player in 1984, but after playing for lower leagues he was finally able to join Pescara in 1991. After his promotion to Serie A in 1992, his career really took off from there, scoring 16 goals in his time with Pescara, which is pretty impressive for his midfielder position. After some stints with other clubs, he came back to Pescara in 1998, scoring 4 goals in 46 appearances for his old club. After two more transfers, he finally called it quits as a player in 2003. His second job had now become clear – managing.

Allegri got his first shot at managing in 2004 with Aglianese, a Serie C2 team, where he spent his last two seasons as a player. After a great season with them, Allegri was called upon to manage Grosseto, a Serie C1 team. The stint at Grosseto, though, was not as successful as he was fired after the beginning of the 2006 season. In 2007, Allegri was hired by Serie C1 club Sassuolo, who he led to their first promotion to Serie B in the club’s history. It was this success that caught the eye of Cagliari, and finally got Allegri his first Serie A job.

Allegri was hired by Cagliari in 2008, and finished that season in ninth place, which was considered a good result for Cagliari due to the limited resources and lack of star players. This led Allegri to win the Panchina d’Oro (Golden bench), awarded to the Serie A coach of the year, selected by the other managers. In 2010, though, he was let go from Cagliari after a 12th place finish. This rose some questions about Allegri – is he not that good of a coach because he could not improve on his ninth place finish of just two years ago, or did he just do all he possibly can with Cagliari? Milan obviously thought the latter.

In June 2010, Allegri was appointed manager of Milan. Finally, after years of managing lower level clubs, Allegri was going to get his chance with a powerhouse club in Serie A. In his first season, he led Milan to their first Serie A championship since 2004, and the success continued next season in Serie A, but they ultimately lost in the final to Juventus. His time with Milan also saw many Champions League and Coppa Italia appearances. Even though he saw success at Milan, it was a relationship he had with one of Milan’s greatest players that would have an effect on him even in his current job at Juventus.

Andrea Pirlo played ten seasons with Milan, helping them win two Champions League titles and also two Serie A titles, all before Allegri arrived there. In the 2010-11 season, Pirlo did not play much due to injury, and Milan thought this may be the end of his career, so they did not resign him as his contract ran out after that season. Allegri, now the coach of Milan, did not do much to help keep Pirlo there, and in fact he may have helped push him away from the club in favor of some other players. In the end, this decision did not bode well for Milan as Pirlo signed with Juventus, had three of arguably the best seasons in his career, and won Serie A titles all three years with Juve, more than he had ever won at Milan. It just so happens, Allegri ends up following Pirlo to Juventus.

In the summer of 2014, Allegri became the new coach of Juventus, and it came with fan skepticism and even an awkward situation. Even though it was said they never had a problem with each other publicly, you have to think the dynamic of Allegri coming to coach Pirlo after he basically gave up on him in Milan was looming large. Pirlo ended up leaving for New York City FC about a year after Allegri landed at Juve, possibly because of his relationship with Allegri. Even though he lost a great player, Allegri was able to sustain success with Juventus.

Allegri is well on his way to leading Juventus to its sixth Serie A title in a row, and currently has led the club to the semi-final round of the UEFA Champions League, after defeating a loaded Barcelona squad in the quarterfinals. What was once a skeptical and questionable hire has turned into a hire that fans no longer question because of the continued success Allegri has brought to the club. Through the trials and tribulations that got him to where he is now, one thing has remained constant at almost every coaching stop he made – winning. Everyone knows one way to win over a fan base, and that is to win. So whatever fan skepticism came Allegri’s way at first is almost certainly all gone now because of the simple fact that he is continuing a winning tradition.  He just has one more thing to do – win the Champions League, which Juve has a great opportunity to do this year.

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