Ahead of their last home game of the 2018-19 Serie A season, Juventus today held a press conference to confirm their announcement yesterday that manager Massimiliano Allegri would be stepping down at the end of this season.
Despite leading the side to the Scudetto in every one of his five years in charge at Vinovo, ultimately Allegri became the scapegoat for the failure to win the highly-coveted Champions League trophy during his spell.
If you missed the press conference earlier this afternoon, here’s the video.
Joined by Club President Andrea Agnelli and entire first team squad sitting in the front two rows, Allegri was at times emotional and wan, but held a brave face as it became quite clear that the departure was not as mutual as the statement announced yesterday led us to believe.
Despite his big smile as he walked into the media room in the Juventus Stadium, Allegri insisted that he didn’t want anyone to be sad for him as he didn’t want to cry again, having already done that yesterday.
Agnelli spoke first, but clarified that he would not be answering any questions today regarding Allegri’s replacement, from anyone, players and media alike.
“I am here to celebrate Max, a man who wrote Juventus history. Before him, when people talked about five Scudetti in a row, we were talking about the 1930s with Edoardo Agnelli and Max did it by himself on that bench.
“I remember in May 2013 we were in London with Fabio Paratici, awaiting the Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. As we sat there in the car, Allegri walked out of the hotel near us. I pointed to Fabio and said he’d be the next Juventus Coach.
“We had to wait 14 months, until the memorable July 16 2014, when he accepted to become – amid general protests – the Coach of Juventus. As we were about to drive up, we were alerted that the crowd was waiting for us. The driver Matteo wanted to take us to a secondary entrance, but I insisted we’d come to the main gate, because we had no reason to hide or be ashamed, we were proud of the decision.
“It takes huge courage to take the Juve job on July 16 and go on to the Scudetto and Champions League Final in the same season. That takes cojones and Max has them.
“I want to confirm these were five marvellous years. Affection, respect, esteem, friendship, togetherness, defeats, fatigue, hard work and above all many, many, many victories. We also had 18 months as neighbours, as Barzagli was living between us too, so we had breakfast and several dinners together at the same place almost every day. We shared visions of life, football and everything else, seeing each others’ kids grow up.
“After what happened in Berlin, we got off to a difficult start the next season and in October things were not looking good. But we were able to get fifteen consecutive victories and we came back to win the title against Napoli when everyone had already written our sporting obituary. This season we won with weeks and weeks to go.
“I think above all and else, I have found a friend, someone I can confide in on many, many, many matters. At this point, I also have to consider the planning and future of Juventus. When this team comes together in July, it will begin with the objective of winning, both in Italy and in Europe. We are growing the Under-21 and the Juventus Women teams, are building more real estate to find a genuine home for these squads.
“I have the utmost faith in Nedved, Paratici and our directors who have the operative leadership of the club. I read some things over the last few days, but when I thought to myself after the Ajax defeat that we’d continue with Max, it was absolutely a sincere thought.
“As time went on, we all considered and analysed various situations and I cannot deny there is some sadness in realising this was probably the best moment to close one of the most extraordinary eras in the history of Juventus.
“This is what happens when intelligent people look at a situation and decide to end on a high rather than drag it forward. Max was the director of all this, the leader of the orchestra, so I want to present him with this jersey.”
The shirt presented was titled ‘History Alone’, with the number ‘5’ representing his tenure with the club.
Agnelli was asked why he chose to let Allegri go after having previously indicated that there would be no changes in management with Allegri’s contract still having a year to go, and the President replied that the decision was made over the last month as part of a season-ending analysis from the leadership team on where Juve go from here.
Then Allegri finally got to speak, and was asked about his favourite moments at Juve. Visibly saddened, the manager said -
“First of all I thank the President for his wonderful words. I thank the lads for all they’ve done, all they’ve given me, including all the players over the five years.”
There was a pause for applause, and then as Allegri’s eyes watered, he continued -
“I leave a winning team that has the potential to repeat its success in Italy and have another great Champions League campaign. Unfortunately, some situations meant we couldn’t go all the way.
“We talked, expressed our ideas on what was best for Juventus and the future of Juventus. After that, the club evaluated it and decided it was best that I wouldn’t be the Coach of Juventus next season.
“The rapport with President Agnelli, directors Nedved and Paratici remains excellent. We’ve all grown together, including with Beppe Marotta, and the right moment has come to leave on the best terms.
“I leave behind a solid group with extraordinary players, both technically and as men, because you need good men to win as well as good footballers. Fabio and Nedved are younger than me. I met them when they were lads, but they are becoming important directors now.
“Tomorrow, we must celebrate. First, for the Scudetto and secondly the retirement of Andrea Barzagli. The Professor of defenders is leaving, taking nothing away from the others, so tomorrow must be a wonderful evening where we all celebrate, as these have been five extraordinary years.”
Between the announcement yesterday and this afternoon there has been plenty of speculation about rifts in the power structure and why Allegri was leaving, but ‘Il Mister’ clarified to the best of his ability -
“Some things were written that were not correct, suggesting I asked for a long contract, for a squad revolution and different players, but we never got to that.
“We simply realised it was best not to continue together. People again wrote about four or five meetings, but there was one dinner and one meeting in the club headquarters with the President, Fabio and Nedved. At that, we realised there were not the right conditions to continue together. The President, as a decisive man, made the decision.
“It was far more simple than you seem to think. We had five extraordinary years together and must be proud of that. You journalists do your jobs and write all sorts of things, but I am happy, I am emotional…
“But enough, because tomorrow we have to celebrate! All the rest is chatter. Juventus will start next season with a super club and an extraordinary squad.”
Agnelli added what he liked most about Allegri -
“What he contributed more than everything was heart. Leading a business, you need to make the right decisions at the right time. Only time will tell if the correct decisions were made, but aside from the considerations outside this club, we have our reality inside the club.
“When someone enters a bar and comments on what is happening inside that club or that business, they can never understand all the elements taken into consideration unless they are inside that environment.
“As you know, I don’t like yes men, I want strong opinions, listen to them all and eventually decisions are made. Anyone unable to handle that pressure could not lead a football club or a business.”
Allegri had been part of some acrimonious arguments with media in recent weeks -
“It was always a debate with reporters and pundits, which is how it should be, but when you work at Juventus, you have to know that you won trophies. This season, we got the Scudetto and the Supercoppa, so it was still a success.
“As for playing good football, I’ve seen a team dominate until the 93rd minute and then concede, so all of a sudden the winning team had an extraordinary performance. Inevitably, the result makes writers change their approach to a performance, but the Coach must evaluate all of it.
“Football is also strategy, understanding the right moments of the game. It’s impossible to play well for 38 rounds, but the important thing is to win even after playing badly, because that is the sign of a great club.
“Hearing people go out after a defeat to say, we played well, we finished second and that’s fine with me – that is not my style. There’s competition even between kids on the street playing five a side, let alone at Juventus.
“I always say there is no shame in defending. The great games and trophies are won by the best defences. For example, in the Champions League Final in Cardiff, we didn’t lose because Real Madrid attacked better, but because we defended worse, especially in the second half.
“I still haven’t worked out what beautiful football is, nobody can explain it to me and I’d love it if they did. There must be a reason if there are some players and Coaches who always win, dammit?! There has to be a reason why those people always end up on the winning side.
“People seem to think it’s all about theory now, but this is a profession. Those who win regularly are better than the others, that’s all there is to it.
“I would like to make an example, but I won’t, because otherwise there will be chaos!”
Allegri on his future -
“The fans have always been very warm towards me and it did get me emotional when the crowd called my name. In a way, I felt more fired up the more criticism was coming in from the outside, rather than those in the stadium.
“I don’t know what will happen in future. I need a little rest too, while after July 15 I might inevitably feel the desire to get back to work and I’ll evaluate the situations that are proposed. Otherwise, I’ll have a year to dedicate myself to my family and that band of crazies who are my friends. We’ll see. For now, let’s think about celebrating tomorrow.”
The President was then asked if this was the toughest decision he had to make at Juventus.
“Yes. Absolutely, yes. For all the reasons I outlined… yes.”
With that, the two men hugged and left the room to a huge round of applause.