Tuttosport recently had a pretty large pagelle rating for the team, coaches, and players of Juventus during the calendar year that was well worth the read. As I've been plugging away at editing the most recent podcast, my co-hosts Marco P. and Adam Digby graciously stepped in and volunteered to translate the article. Full story after the jump.
2010 was a two-face year for Juventus: six months best forgotten, canceled, censored, and another six living on the edge of hope, ambition, and newfound serenity. 2010 was the year in which Juve left place to "Juve 2", inevitably and painfully. The former was ugly, one of the ugliest of this club's ultracentennial history; the latter is beautiful, despite not yet being sublime. Time is needed. Especially Since God took 6 days himself before he created Earth, Agnelli & Marotta -not Gods (yet)- must work 24/7, and even that is probably not enough.
Among the events taking place from January to May, everything is useful: those months must be engraved in our memories so those mistakes are never repeated. It would be easy to bang on the head of Blanc, ex-DS Secco, ex-managers Ferrara and Zaccheroni. Easy and pointless: they made mistakes, sure, but the biggest flaw of them all was the project itself. Precisely for that reason the term "project" does not exist anymore, the word having even been banned at Juve HQ. Instead, there is a lean structure in place and objectives to pursue: the results by mid-2011 will tell the tale of what went right and what needs be corrected.
Pre-World Cup 2010 included many protagonists, and several of those are now gone, sacked and/or removed; others are just about to be waved goodbye (Sissoko, maybe Amauri). Yet the symbol of Juventus's change is a survivor, Felipe Melo. Unwatchable and contested for a long while, he is now fundamental to the team and adored by the fans, his form and psychological tranquility recuperated . Then, there is another symbol. He is blond and runs like the wind: his name is Krasic, tickling people's imagination with the same swiftness he uses to move on the field. He reminds of Nedved, someone who willingly stepped aside so that he could come back. And come back he did.
The votes from January to May:
The six months to remain in infamy, the darkest of Juventus's history. Between match results and hits to the club's image, six months of disaster.
It began with a change in the dugout (exit Ferrara, enter Zaccheroni) in late January, it finished with a change in the upper echelons (power to Andrea Agnelli, Jean-Claude Blanc's role transformed, Beppe Marotta & Co. introduced to complete the revolution) in early Summer . In between, Juve even tried reinserting Roberto Bettega within the management, failing miserably. Much like the 25m Brazilians (Felipe Melo & Diego), alongside Cannavaro, called back against the will of the people and against any football logic.
Back to square one.
The Upper Management
President, AD, general director. Multifaceted, but without any experience in the football world. With a pinch of presumption he simply bit more than he could chew. Instead of relying on people within the industry, he thought having dealt with the Tour de France, Roland Garros, and the Dakar rally would also grant him success in the beautiful game realm. Different sport, different philosophies.
DS (direttore sportivo, aka director of football) without protection. He spent a lifetime at Juventus under another role, then was suddenly thrown forward into the spotlight and given the reins of the club. A giant leap which they forced unto him without the necessary safety net. In hindsight, he was right about Felipe Melo. However, the fact the locker room was literally split into two and players essentially did what they wanted, is sign he was unable to handle the situation.
Stepped from behind the desk to the field. Not enough fundamentals, and not enough support. Destined to massacre.
Stopgap manager... boarding a boat with dozens of other leaks. Smooth sailing became then very difficult. He managed (barely) to salvage qualification for Europe (the paupers' kind). Eliminated from the Scudetto race, the Champions league race, and even the Europa League. Not that the players really gave him much help. In other words: he inherited an old shack, and never really succeded in the renovations.
Among many losses (and lost players), he tried to install the bases for his personal growth, stepping into the shoes of future Juve captain (on and off the field). Even he was not perfect, but every stumble as followed with a determined getting up motion.
In this whole mess, the most amazing thing was the loss of Gigi's legendary self-control. His instances of venting to the press after a loss were memorable. Witness to a Juve that was no longer "Juve", he became restless. Between one dive and the other (many of which uninfluential), he tried to remotivate his troops.
This season's surprise, and one of the very few positive ones. In spite of his muscular problems, the Uruguayan player demonstrated versatility and promise. His only fault: his arrival was in the right place at the wrong time.
Some signs of recuperation in the Winter, then even King David abdicated his throne. Injured and with his morale down to zero, he nevertheless finished the season with 10 goals. He seemed remotivated enough to be given the reins of Juve's attack by Del Neri, then the Summer transported him to Spain. Adieu, adiós David.
DEL PIERO 5.5
He made himself available to pick up the Old Lady, but it was mission impossible. The Juve captain however, never abandonded the sinking ship.
A jaw-dropping debut, with that brace against Roma evoking the exploits of yet another Diego (Maradona). His light got extinguished very fast however, along with the rest of his teammates. Remained only the darkness of the Turin night.
His shoulders bore the weight of being the most expensive transfer of the Summer. Too much. Psychologically destabilized by the team's and his own performances, he was booed, reacting in the worst possible way. The same anxiety would then also be the cause of Brazil's demise at the World Cup. Returning from holiday, after some deep soul-searching (and Del Neri's help) he would make a complete 180º. His first semester of 2010 was an utter disaster however.
He left Juventus in the worst of ways: almost never present on the field, with hiccup attendances at training. Injuries did not help.
It would have been better he never had made his return to Juve. He certainly did not deserve to close his (Italian) career this way.
Another mercato mistake, among the confusion. It was reported Grosso came to Juve on Lippi's advice, yet even old Marcello did not bring Fabio to South Africa in June.
All in all, the group as a whole (Amauri onwards) simply drowned without many exceptions.
JUNE TO DECEMBER:
MAROTTA 7.5 -
Entering Juventus headquarters as Director General, in just a few months Beppe Marotta has been elected to the board and promoted to CEO. A clear sign of trust from the owners. The signing of Krasic is the flagship for the new leadership, and with the exception of Motta (although a review of Martinez is delayed) all the new arrivals have convinced. Excellent intuition - to be attributed to Fabio Paratici, Marotta's right arm - to bring Frederik Sorensen to the Bianconeri for an outlay of €150 000, a pittance by the standards of the transfer market. Above all, a move that stresses the attention of the entire staff towards young players. To say that the program is built for the future of Juve is much more than a cheap slogan.
DELNERI 7.5 -
The decision to focus on the Friulian technician last May was the first taken by Marotta. It was not without risk, given that until that moment it was assumed the names were those of Benitez and Prandelli. The choice was made and it fits perfectly. Delneri has confirmed he is in fact one of the best coaches around in tactical terms, showing - and this was less obvious - to be a great manager of the dressing room. Consistency and clarity are his guidelines, much like a group that absolutely needed to rely on a charismatic figure. In this sense, the psychological rehabilitation of Felipe Melo is emblematic.
STORARI 7.5 -
The fact that today he is seen as competition for Buffon shows that the former Sampdoria goalkeeper has risen to a new level. Excellent in goal, making few mistakes, Storari mainly transmits a calm that is delivered to the entire defence.
GRYGERA 6 -
Before being stopped by an injury in Salzburg, he had regained the starting spot showing his usual good defending but a little missing in attack.
MOTTA 5 -
Although he was among the first to arrive in ritiro in early July, he failed to understand the defensive ideas of Delneri. Having Krasic in front of him, who is like an added striker, does not play in his favor.
SORENSEN 7.5 -
The Dane has determination, tactical intelligence and athleticism to be an important player. Needs to improve instead from a technical point of view. Probably when he can play in his natural role of central defence his roughness and poor passing touch will be less obvious. Time really in his favor.
BONUCCI 7.5 -
After the acclimatisation phase (and the waste of the World Cup meant he gave up his holiday) the former Bari man has proven to be a good summer investment. At only 23 he has played with the calm of a veteran, and demonstrated proficiency at deadball situations. He will be a reference point for many years.
CHIELLINI 7.5 -
The defensive movements introduced by Delneri cost him a few steps (like the entire defence) at the beginning of the championship, but once the former Livorno man understood them he returned to his usual performance, which is obviously a very high standard.
LEGROTTAGLIE 6 -
Very good test at the San Siro against Milan, the only game he has played in the current championship. A key match though.
RINAUDO nm - (due to injury)
GROSSO 6 -
Reinstated due to circumstance, the beloved fullback of Lippi responded well, apart from slipping down in recent matches. If he wants to keep the place he must come back to his old self...
TRAORE 6 -
Started with the handbrake on due to injuries, the Frenchman has engaged top gear in recent appearances. Could carve out a prominent place, but first needs to convince Delneri of his defensive capabilities.
De CEGLIE 6.5 -
Unluckily, he suffered a serious injury, but the recriminations are related to the timing of it. The blow came just when the Aostano was finally demonstrating that he can carry the weight of a starting shirt.
FELIPE MELO 7.5 -
After sinking during the World Cup, the Brazilian was in danger of drowning, but he pulled his head out of the water and started to swim more vigorously. Qualities that have always been recognized but, in addition to brawn, Melo has used his the brain recently, showing to be both serious and reliable. If he stays in this state of grace, Juve will really be allowed to think big.
AQUILANI 7.5 -
He put the bad memories out of his head (caused by a couple of seasons living on the outside) and gave Melo the defensive duties. The result was excellent on a personal level and benefitted the team as well, despite a slight decline in December.
MARCHISIO 7 -
Being central even when moved to the left in the new assignment Delneri found him has certainly benefited the defence if not the attack. In any case, Marchisio has proved very useful as always.
SISSOKO 5.5 -
His impact has gone backwards as his head now looks elsewhere. All players need to feel important to do their best and the Malian, for this Juve, objectively is no longer that.
KRASIC 9 -
He has the features of Nedved and reminds us of the best of Boniek. Not bad points of reference and in the meantime he has become everything for Juve. His thrust will be crucial in the run-up to the summit.
PEPE 7 -
The Roman is one of those players especially appreciated by teammates and coaches, and over the season even the most demanding fans have started to move onto his side. Such devotion eventually won over and shown he is just not as bad as imagined.
MARTINEZ nm -
Same as Rinaudo (although the €12 million spent to take him from Catania is aggrivating)
SALIHAMIDZIC nm -
A few minutes and a lot of sympathy.
DEL PIERO 6.5 -
The captain in his winter years is at the height of his character, filled with records linked to almost twenty years service. The explosion of Quagliarella has impacted inevitably on his playing time.
IAQUINTA 6.5 -
His season is not unlike that of his previous three years, lived perpetually in balance between the field and the treatment room. Yet all the coaches on the bench during the Bianconeri have persevered regardlessly with the Calabrian striker, especially after the decline of Amauri.
AMAURI 4.5 -
His 2010 is summised from an arid figure: one league goal in the entire calendar year. A flop that can not be explained only by injury. The time is ripe to leave.
QUAGLIARELLA 8 -
Because here is a player who combines the business of scoring with the pleasure of watching, he has been able to compensate for the lack of a striker and enables us to predict it will be wonderful when there is finally one in the side for him to partner with.