On the heels of a strong showing of support, about two-thirds of the vote, for Del Neri to continue as our head coach, may I present a timely guest post written by a fellow reader that constructs the case for tolerance. In short, a plea for patience.
A Plea For Patience
By: Ali Bakry
"Another season, another disappointment", a thought that is certainly on the minds of Juve fans after a disastrous month. A season-ending injury to Juve's top goal-scorer, out of the Coppa Italia, and three defeats in the last five Serie A matches after which Juve find themselves in 7th place. With all of this happening within the space of one month, the season went from promising to a reoccurrence of the nightmare that last season was.
But is it really that bad? Is the club in freefall again? Are the people managing this club helplessly clueless to the point where there is no hope of turning things around? Does the club need yet another revolution in order to have any hope of returning to former glory? A closer look at the club's activity since Angelli took control of the club is needed in order to try and find an answer to these questions.
First, let's look at the transfers made by Marotta during the summer. The squad of last season contained a high number of old players, add to that the fact that the squad was not built coherently, meaning that is was almost impossible to field a formation that suited the players available. This meant that an overhaul of the squad was needed, the thought of buying two or three "champions" with the transfer budget available is a naive one, as this would only work with a team that already has a decent squad with a clear playing style, something last season's squad definitely lacked. It must also be mentioned that despite needing to buy a big number of players, Marotta managed to get a few great players. Krasic and Aquilani can find a starting spot in most of Europe's top clubs, Quagliarella and Bonucci are also good players that proved their worth. All of these players instantly became crucial first team players.
How many transfers were as successful when the previous management was in charge? Only 3 or 4 transfers that could be regarded as successful between 06/07 and 09/10, so Marotta has managed to do more in one transfer window that the last management had done in 4 seasons. Some fans may mention that the winter transfer window has been a disappointment, but Marotta managed to bring in upgrades to Amauri and Legrottaglie despite having very limited funds to work with. There are a few failed transfers, such as Rinaudo or Lanzafame, but even Moggi brought in players like Baiocco and Paramatti during his time at Juve.
What about Del Neri? Is he really capable of coaching a team with such high expectations and demands? Or is he a limited coach who knows nothing but his beloved 4-4-2 formation? Looking back at the first half of the season, the club managed a 13-match unbeaten run, despite the run consisting of a number of draws, such an unbeaten run is something that was unheard of since Juve's season in Serie B. Impressive performances away to Milan, Inter, and Manchester City proved that Del Neri's team is capable of holding it's own. Some may claim that Del Neri is an inflexible coach, but we've seen enough tactical variations of 4-4-2 to prove otherwise, Del Neri even tried 4-3-3 a few times, proving that he's not limited to his favored 4-4-2 formation.
There may have been moments of madness here and there (Momo for Aquilani when drawing 1-1 against Udinese?!!) but Del Neri has done a decent job overall since joining Juventus. The recent slump is definitely worrying, but given the injury to Quagliarella, who played a very important tactical role, and the lack of a player with similar characteristics within the squad, Del Neri has had to look for an alternative tactical approach, which he has yet to find. But given that he faced a similar issue last season with Sampdoria, it shouldn't be long before he get the team back to good shape.
Due to the current crisis, some Juventini are stating that there are better options out there, that getting a new general director or a new coach is something that should be done in order to fix the situation. Although these suggestions are in good-will, such actions will do more harm than good. Juventus have a good example of this in Claudio Ranieri, he certainly isn't the best tactician in the peninsula, but he was making progress with the club. Third position in his first season, and second position in his second season until his sacking, which came just before two easy games at the end of the season. The management and fans thought they were better off with Ferrara, they also pushed Nedved into retirement (if reports at that time were true) in order to bring in Diego and "revolutionize" the team. There is no need to mention how that "revolution"
A world-class team can't be built overnight, a team aspiring to reach the top needs stability. Players need to learn to play within relatively the same group of players, they also need to have a consistent tactical approach in order to develop sufficient understanding of what they are asked to do by their coach. Constant change of players and coaches only helps destabilize the team and players, causing the lack of a playing style and inconsistent team performances.
Marotta and Del Neri may not be the best in the business, but they certainly possess the knowledge and experience needed to steer this team in the right direction. There will be periods of turbulence before the team can find its balance, but we as fans should not lose sight of the team’s long-term targets. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but only with time and patience will we reach it. Thoughts of stopping to look for a new way out of the tunnel will only cause in further delay until we finally exit the post-Calciopoli tunnel.