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Manu’s Grab Bag: Disarray

We talk another deflating loss, a broken club and water finding its level.

Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

In a game in which Juventus fans all around the world expected the Bianconeri to come out roaring after suffering a humiliating loss midweek in the Champions League, the winningest Italian club in history did exactly the opposite. Coming out flat, Juve suffered a 1-0 home loss against Atalanta that puts them now seven points back ... of a top four spot.

And, yes, despite the fact we are not even in December, I think we need to start counting the gap between fourth place and where Juventus is and forget about the — even larger and continuously increasing — gap to the top of the table because this team is currently pretty far from seriously competing for the title.

On a day in which Juventus also acknowledged to be under investigation for financial related shenanigans — we’ll talk more about that in a moment — our beloved club is in a place in which nothing on or off the field is going right.

Let’s cook.

LVP: Alvaro Morata

One of the early takeaways I have gleaned from the premiere of Juventus new, flashy Amazon funded documentary “All or Nothing” is that Morata seems to really like being a Juventus player.

It’s understandable — he became the player he is now during his first Juventus stint as a promising your prospect on loan from Real Madrid. He had a lot of big goals and met his eventual wife in Turin, so how could you not be happy to return to a place with such great memories? And I will also admit to really liking the guy, I was happy when he was re-signed and I do believe that he can be a valuable player to have and part of a winning team when in the right circumstances.

With all that being said, the right circumstances are certainly not the ones that Juventus is currently operating under. Morata, as we all know, is a notoriously streaky striker — which, in an ideal world, means that he is more of a complimentary piece rather than the everyday striker for a top-flight team. Unfortunately, that’s the role he’s expected to fulfill at the moment for Juventus, and the results have been pretty much what we expected. A few good games, followed by a long streak of disastrous performances.

Morata looks burnt out, out of form and completely out of it at the moment. I can’t imagine that gambling on Moise Kean or Kaio Jorge would result in a worse result than the performances that the Spanish international is putting forth. The man tasked with bearing the weight of the attack was a large part of why Juventus only managed to put two shots on goal in 90 minutes against a direct competitor in the table.

That’s not good enough.

Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Manuel Locatelli (8 Points)

The Breaks of the Game

A football crossbar is 12 CM, according to the Google search I just did, so the difference between a shot hitting the post and the same shot going into the back of the net is a lot smaller than you would think.

Which only made Saturday’s last gasp attempt at redemption by Paulo Dybala more excruciating as his long-range curling effort from a free kick clipped the crossbar and ricocheted into the stands to seal Juve’s fate in the game. If that ball is slightly — only very slightly — lower, we might be talking about Juve saving a point and somehow finally seeing a free kick for our club go into the net.

Alas, it was not meant to be, as it’s been the case for the last few years it seems like every single break that can go Juve’s way is going to the opposing side which is a stark difference from early in the decade where every break was going the Bianconeri’s way.

I enjoy the notion of water finding its level, and for the last couple of years I was thinking that the level that we were going to return to was that level of unparalleled success and good luck of the first Max Allegri era. Perhaps, water is indeed finding its level in the sense that all that good luck at some point must end.

Losing Off the Field Too

As I mentioned above, Saturday was also the first time Juventus publicly acknowledged they are currently being investigated for their, say, creative accounting methods to generate profits out of thin air when it comes to transfer dealings.

Everyone and their mother knew that Juventus — and many other teams, this is not an exclusively Juve related problem — were employing some shady methods to post positive numbers in player swap deals. At the end of the day, what a player is worth in the transfer market is indescifrable.

A player’s value is not set by a regulatory agency. In a lot of ways, the player market is as free as a market can get, players are worth whatever a club is willing to pay for them. Their transfer fee is not directly correlated to how good the player is. Of the top 10 transfer fees of all time, names like Ousmane Dembele, Philipe Coutinho and Jack Grealish feature prominently. I feel confident in saying those three guys are not part of anyone’s top 10 players currently playing.

In a system that is so nebulous and with so many gray areas it’s honestly shocking that it took clubs this long to find ways to game the system in their favor. Because at the end of the day, who’s to say that Manolo Portanova — a guy with barely over 140 minutes of senior level football when he was transferred out of Juventus — isn’t worth €10 million? Or Elia Peterelli — currently on loan in Serie B and with no Serie A minutes to his name — isn’t worth €8 million? If Genoa and Juventus both agree on these numbers being fair and real, then doesn’t that become their actual value — for book keeping purposes at least?

(For what it’s worth, Transfermarkt has Portanova’s and Peterelli’s combined estimated value at €1.25 million. I know Transfermakt numbers are not always the most reliable, but that seems to me like a much fairer evaluation.)

Legally, the case will probably amount to little, but this is the first warning shot when it comes to dubious transfer dealings. Clubs will probably continue to find ways to game the system, but the creative swaps era of financial doping might be reaching its end.

Parting Shot of the Week

In what is becoming a depressingly re-occurrent stat, yet another team got a win in Turin after a decades long drought, as it was Atalanta who now snaps a 32-year streak of being unable to beat Juventus at their home grounds.

The defeat also marks the eight matchup between Giasperini and Max Allegri with the Bianconeri coach only managing three wins in those matchups.

With their main striker being subbed out amongst jeers, the organization being investigated and only five squad players staying behind to salute the fans, it’s fair to say that paraphrasing a chubby German kid in a movie seems appropriate:

It’s not a good time to be a Juve fan.

See you Tuesday.