On the wrong side of 25, I've just recently begun to truly make peace with the fact that all of my childhood footballing heroes will mostly likely be retired by the time I hit 30. Players come and go, club legends leave, presidents pass away; the only constant is our club. Managers are no different from the rest. The world game will no longer be the same when Sir Alex Ferguson chews his last piece of gum on the Old Trafford sideline, but Manchester United will continue.
The press is filled with quotes from Antonio Conte regarding his eventual departure, links from countless clubs across Europe, and speculation about the future of L'Aquino Juventino (I made that up). Across the Twittersphere, Facebooksphere, and MySpacesphere (also made up), Juventini argue about Conte's future, fret about his possible departure, and generally freak out about the great man leaving our touchline.
I've come to grips with the fact that Antonio Conte will never be an SAF-type figure. Despite his amazing accomplishments from the Bianconeri dugout (and press box) so far, he will certainly move on in coming years. The only uncertainty is when. But Juventus will carry on. The Juventus Stadium did not collapse when Alessandro Del Piero did his last lap of honor, nor will it when Conte eventually leaves. The Stadio Delle Alpi surely quaked when L'Avvocato Gianni Agnelli breathed his final, legendary breath, but Juventus continued on.
Conte has proved himself to be a winner in every sense of the word. A Juventino through and through, I firmly believe his recent statements and demands are mainly to ensure that our squad is fully equipped for the rigors of a three-pronged attack on Serie A, Coppa Italia, and, most importantly for him, Champions League. An incredibly shrewd man, he is fully aware that the pressure he exerts on Giuseppe Marotta, Andrea Agnelli, and the Juventus board is necessary to push the club to the heights she deserves. For that, I am grateful. Of course, as a die-hard tifo, I loathe the thought of Conte prowling the touchline of some other undeserving club, but I also understand the desire to test his prowess elsewhere.
As much as I will hate to see Conte eventually go, I will also appreciate his continued contributions to building a Juventus dynasty. I will appreciate every lung-bursting scream that emits from his mouth (Conte-brand hairdryers to come soon??). I will appreciate every sarcastic press conference, and I will appreciate the inevitable success he brings our organization. I have full faith that when Conte does finally decide to move on, he will make certain leave his Old Lady's house in order. There is no doubt in my mind that his desire is to win as much as possible before he does indeed seek pastures new, but it's foolish to believe he'll retire in a Trussardi suit.
In this new footballing world filled with Sheiks and Shakiras, Sir Alex Fergusons simply do not exist anymore. All we can hope and expect is that Conte does what he has done since he first took over the reigns: win.