With the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as Juventus manager over the weekend, my mind raced through every single scenario and possibility — both extremely optimistic and extremely pessimistic. This is a slightly edited and condensed transcript that inner monologue.
Pessimistic Manu: Oh, sweet.
Optimistic Manu: Will anything, ever, make you happy?
PM: Pep Guardiola would have been nice. Jurgen Klopp would have been REALLY nice. I would not have been mad at Poch, either.
OM: So, all coaches under contract who just made either the Champions League final or won every single domestic English competition? Those guys? That’s the only thing that would have made you happy?
PM: I just feel that if you’re going to jettison one of the most successful coaches in the history of the club, you should probably get someone better than the guy who couldn’t beat him all those years. What do I know, though? I’m just an internet writer, I’m not a big head honcho at one of the most storied clubs in the world, I’m sure this was just the plan. Yup, definitely option A.
OM: That feels unfair, considering …
PM: But, hey, you might be right. I’m sure he brings a bunch of wins, a track of proven success and at least a couple Champions League trophies. Right? RIGHT?
OM: Here we go …
PM: Yes, I’m sure he does, definitely. Let me check, though, just to be sure ...
OH, SWEET. A Europa League trophy? Well, golly, if it ain’t Christmas time here in Juventus land! And, wait a second … Could this be? Am I dreaming? A Serie D Coppa Italia trophy! A whole two trophies in his entire career. We sure hit the jackpot, I’m definitely sold now.
OM: I know where you’re going with this, and it’s a dumb argument.
PM: Huh, he also got blown out by Real Madrid a couple times, so he’s got that in common with Juventus. That’s reassuring, something to break the ice with the players, I’m sure.
OM: I don’t think you’re giving the man his dues and trophy counts, alone, don’t tell the whole story.
PM: Look at me, being an idiot, thinking that winning matters! I didn’t know about this sudden turn in the club philosophy. Good to know we are now judging our hiring’s based on moral victories and nice looking style of play, that bears mentioning, has been exposed at the highest levels time and time again. Instead of, you know, winning.
OM: Are you done?
PM: SARRI BALL IS A FRAUD. Y’ALL CELEBRATED LIKE YOU WON THE ‘CHIP WHILE STILL TRAILING IN POINTS, YOU CHOKE ARTIST. WE HIRED A LIFELONG RUNNER-UP TO REPLACE THE WINNINGEST COACH IN JUVENTUS HISTORY.
OM: That’s a take and a half.
PM: Whatever, man. Champions League Round of 16 exit next season. At best.
OM: Let’s not sugarcoat it: Bringing in Sarri, after all the Guardiola and Poch rumors definitely feels like a letdown. And I do agree, it is hard to envision the board letting Allegri go, while making Sarri option A. In all likelihood they thought they had a chance at Pep and missed. Still, as far as “second” choices go, you could do a whole worse than Sarri.
PM: Enlighten me.
OM: First of, if you’re going to judge a coach signing by his winning track record and that alone, it’s a pretty empty cupboard. Most of the coaches that have long, storied pedigrees of winning are generally not jobless. The other options were always going to be long shots at best, is the Juventus situation all that better than staying at Man City, Tottenham or Liverpool respectively? Probably not.
Furthermore, isn’t Sarri what all Juventini wanted out of Allegri this past couple of years? If Sarri is known for something it is for having a very defined style — and that style is to attack, attack and attack some more. With the embarrassment of riches that is the Juventus attacking depth, couldn’t you see this team flourishing under a guy like Sarri?
PM: *Scratching his chin, thoughtfully* Go on.
OM: You are talking about the guy who got 35-plus goals out of Gonzalo Higuain, the guy who took a relatively underperforming Lorenzo Insigne and made him a star. This is a dude who took a squad that was mostly known as a place for Real Madrid cast offs and pushed Juventus to the brink several times.
It’s going to be crazy to see what he can do with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic. That is by FAR the most talent he has ever had. If it pays off it’s going to be an absolute joy to watch.
PM: So, rotation issues, personality issues, and the reports he lost the locker room in England. None of that raises a flag for you?
OM: Sure, it’s a risky move. But once the board decided to jettison Max Allegri, every decision was going to be risky. Dismissing the “steady hand” that had led the project to so much success was always going to be a dicey proposition. After all, Allegri was essentially let go for winning, but not winning quite enough. There is always a ton of risk after making a decision like that because the new guy is going to be inevitably compared to the bar set by the previous manager. So, yeah, if Sarri doesn’t win Serie A at the very least, the whole thing will be considered a failure.
PM: So you agree, bad signing, right?
OM: No, of course not, under the circumstances I don’t think you could have realistically done much better than Sarri. And we are not relitigating whether or not letting Allegri go was the right move. I don’t know if he is going to be a smashing success, an irreversible mess up or just kind of steer the ship and remain the same. But I will tell you something it’s going to be fun as hell.
PM: You suck up.
OM: Always a pleasure, dick.
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