Conte For Coach?

The rumors linking Antonio Conte as Juve's next coach have been increasingly significantly over the last few days, and Andrea Agnelli and Pavel Nedved hardly quieted rumors calling him "destined as Juve's coach someday" "a great leader" and acknowledging "we know Conte is available." It's not surprising giving Antonio's glorious Juventus past, but some may wonder why we're looking at a Serie B coach.

The first thing I'd ask you to read is an article on Antonio Conte that I wrote nearly two years ago, when Claudio Ranieri was heading for the exit door. It's extremely telling, and perhaps encouraging for Juventini. There's no doubt there are major positives to Antonio Conte beyond just a proud past at Juve- he has achieved very consistent results with "decent" teams, aided in the development of young players, and instilled a winning mentality in a team known for mid-table finishes.

What has Antonio been up to since then? After a short tenure at a doomed Atalanta side, he returned to Serie B with Siena, hired by the same DS who hired him at Bari, Giorgio Perinetti. Given the ambitious mandate from Siena President Mezzaroma to immediately climb back into Serie A, the duo constructed an ambitious squad and has already conquered promotion.

(Great comment on YouTube: "Watch this video and ask yourself why Juve was a great team with a winning mentality."

There's definitely some interesting characteristics about his Serie B campaign with Siena. First, he is using his preferred attacking 4-4-2 formation, which means Krasic would not be offed alla Diego should Antonio return to Juve, who knows, he could maybe even get something out of Martinez. Like at Bari, Conte has done a great job of creating a winning mentality at Siena who was relatively depressed having been relegated, there's no doubt his attitude is the type we need at Juventus.

Another interesting note is that he's brought a few of his ex-players along with him and Perinetti, such as Francesco Caputo, who scored 10 goals at age 21 for Conte's promoted Bari side. Caputo hasn't played much, but that's largely due to the good form of Calaio and Serie B veteran Mastronunzio. It's possible that Davide Lanzafame, the umpteenth-youth-product-called-home-who-never-got-a-chance could return to Juve under Conte. It was Antonio who launched him initially at Bari, playing him in 55/56 games over a year and a half period at Bari. He certainly suits into Conte's 4-2-4 attacking system.

You'll note in my earlier post about Conte, I said that he's a great coach, but it might be too soon for him to return to Juve, saying "He has done well with Arezzo and Bari, Serie B is much different from leading your team against a team like ManYoo in the knockout stages." He's put another solid Serie B season under his belt, and while that doesn't guarantee a good performance at Juve, the experience combined with Juve's changing environment swings in his favor. When I wrote this, we had finished 2nd place and were heading into another year of the Champion's League, ending up in a group with Bordeaux and Bayern Munich. Certainly it's a different game we're looking at with Juventus likely out of all European competitions. I think that would help- it'd allow him and the squad to focus on Serie A, and Antonio could gain vital experience at the head of a big club before entering the European fray.

I'm still not totally sold on Conte to Juventus, though he has the mentality, the spirit, and the tactical know-how to guide this team. Like Nedved, it's in Conte's destiny to return to Juve as a coach, if you picked any player from the Lippi eras who would be a successful coach, we all knew it'd be Antonio. I personally would still prefer another Juventus legend like Deschamps, who has competed at a much higher level as a coach, though for me, Conte is preferable to Spalletti, Mancini, or Mazzarri.

Like Hoffenheim with Andreas Beck, Siena have asked Conte to inform them of his decision as soon as possible, Perinetti and Mezzaroma have both given him the freedom to leave Siena if he wishes, but understandably want to know his plan soon so they can plan for their upcoming Serie A campaign. With Marotta declaring that Agnelli and him have "clear ideas" on their future plans, Conte may already be Juve's next coach, I do believe that they've already made their decision for next year. Should Conte come to Juve, we welcome him with open arms. If not, I hope Antonio builds on his budding coaching career and makes an intelligent decision to grow it. Forza Antonio!

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