If you could summarize the first half of the season in one word, what would it be? Perhaps some of you would choose something a little on the vulgar side of life. Or, there's a chance many of you would wish to be a little more constructive in your critique. Whatever the case may be, you're certain to find some sort of justification throughout a year that's certainly had it's share of higher highs and lower lows. So, as the first post of 2010, it will explore some of this season's thoughts many of us bianconeri might still have festering in our brain. As well, provide some insight into the individual or individuals who, by every measure, need to step up their game significantly for the second half of the season in 2010.
The Body is Nothing Without the Mind
If, like me, you wished for a sharp piece of glass in your cheerios the morning after our matches for the last couple of months, then you pretty much know where I'm going with this one. To some of our club's more senior supporters however, namely my father, Juventus has been in a state of shock ever since calciopoli broke four years ago this May. That's a lot of glass. One analogy he likes to make is that of a body who's head has been chopped off and now wanders around aimlessly, hoping to find it's missing part so it can function properly. With all that has happened to Juventus after calciopoli, I think my old man was right on.
More poor decisions after already made poor decisions courtesy of the calcio-brainless Secco, Blanc, Gigli & Co., led the club to continue to stumble on the pitch without any real sense of surefootedness. Fast forward to today, and we're knee deep in shit the fruits of their labour. Players that wouldn't even have come close to touching our jersey pre-calciopoli are now sporting our colours tied to the club contractually for years to come. You know who you are. Now with the return of Roberto Bettega, perhaps we can begin to find the trail that will lead us back to that missing part, so we can properly build our club to compete for titles domestically and internationally once again.
You're Only As Good As Your Last Game
For me, the most important development so far this season was our emphatic departure from the Champions League on December 8th, 2009 and the events that followed as a result. As hard as it was to see my beloved club get dismantled the way we did, I felt somewhat satisfied to know that it would finally be clear to the rest of the bianconeri faithful that the status quo must be changed. With public support in the club's leadership non-existent at an all-time low after the lesson game against the Bavarians, we welcomed back (reluctantly by some of course) Bettega, someone with administrative and footballing experience. What a unique concept...
Essentially, the biggest lingering problem with our side so far this season, and for over the last three years, has been our lack of consistency. This, for me, is the most frustrating thing about Juventus in my recent memory. Great performances one week, then we'd forget how to play the next, and next, and next, well you get the idea here. Truth be told, every team faces the same exact challenge, however it's those who can come closest, compared to the rest, in achieving a high level of performance consistently that win championships. For today's Juventus, without a real sense of sturdiness yet, to be held up compared to the glory days of the past is simply unhealthy. Right now we're just consistently inconsistent.
Who Needs to/Can Step-Up in 2010?
Ciro Ferrara: Personally, I think he's doing a good job with the team thus far. He's made the difficult transition from teammate to coach look pretty easy and, well, his tactics have been sufficient enough early on. However, if we've witnessed the peak of his coaching capacity i.e. a retarded Felipe Melo (see below), then the board is going to have to find a replacement. Staying on as head coach will be a very different type of test for Ciro if our poor form resurfaces next year. One that he's really not all that used to, and we honestly love him for it. The next test will be about everything non-football related and all about boardroom politics. Sadly with the players he's got at his disposal this season, another dry spell certainly can't be completely avoidable. So in short, it doesn't look good from where I'm sitting. Go ahead Blanc, let's see you throw one of your own under the train. Or maybe Bettega can do it for you.
Felipe Melo: Prandelli used the term "discreet" to describe the Brazilian's vision and added that "he certainly is not a play-maker... and therefore he must [be told] what to do when he has the ball". Dunga, Brazil's national team coach, spoke about how Viola's coach dealt with this issue effectively. "Melo needs someone close to him, as he had Riccardo Montolivo at Fiorentina" he said a week ago to the Corriere dello Sport. In addition, Dunga's used Gilberto "the invisible wall" Silva beside Melo recently in international play, fortifying the reality of Felipe's need for a strong central wing-man that can share the burden. One name stands out in my mind, Momo.
Momo Sissoko: Mark my words, if Melo and Sissoko can stay healthy for the majority of the rest of the season, and form a consistent* partnership as central defending midfielders, the Serie A is going to turn into one heaping fucking mess for our opponents. Are those goosebumps already? Sissoko's work rate is legendary, and while neither him or Melo can actually pass like Ricky, the two of them sharing the ball winning responsibilities will drastically improve their own distributive talents.
Alessandro Del Piero: It's not like his contribution can get any smaller right? Look for some help from our captain in the coming months, guaranteed. I think.
Our Entire Defense: It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion sometimes honestly. I can't begin to explain how important it is that we need find Chiellini a partner back there who's up to his standard of defending. If it's not a top priority for this club going forward, and we're not willing to spend top dollar, then we're just treading water until Buffon retires at which point everything's going to hell. Manninger is going to get absolutely destroyed this January if Chiellini isn't around. I mean Alex is going to be exposing every weakness he's had his entire career. How the fuck does a goalie get beat 35 metres out like this? We're all going to die.
Amauri: The big Brazlian is making Lippi's life really easy as of late. However, it's really tough to deal with streak prone strikers. What does a coach do? Keep them on the bench, hoping they find strength within them to bounce back, or continue to play them hoping they can push through the dry spell all the while knowing they're not at their best. Tough call. However in Amauri's case, seeing as he's got a great ability to hold up the ball, Ferrara might find some use for the hit-man even though he's not scoring. Once again, Dunga put his two cents in about Diego recently that could benefit our number 11 as well. He said "Diego is a trequartista who must be helped by a striker in the phase of retrieving balls, just like it happened at Werder". If Amauri can track back a little further to help retrieve/hold the ball, it'll ease the pressure off Diego somewhat, meanwhile the change in focus could also help the Azzurri hopeful. Kind of like the way Momo can help Melo, Amauri can help Diego. It's all about people helping people. It's a beautiful thing.
Best goals from around the league through the first half of the season.
IERI... OGGI... DOMANI... SEMPRE JUVE!!!