It was a whirlwind couple of days that led to Juventus hiring Andrea Pirlo last summer. And suddenly, the man who was going to get his first managerial experience in Serie C was thrown into the deep end and expected to continue a Scudetto run that was one trophy away from hitting double digits and try and get Juventus on a deep Champions League run.
All of this while Pirlo, the former Juventus midfield maestro at the start of said title-winning run, was learning on the fly during a pandemic-impacted season where preseason training was truncated and trying to instal his up-tempo style of play was always going to take time.
But the experiment with Pirlo as Juventus manager has come to an end after all of one season at the helm, it was announced Friday. Juventus, who are expected to announce the return of Max Allegri in relatively short order 1after this move, saw the nine-year reign over Serie A come to an end on Pirlo’s watch, with a desperate final-weekend win-plus-help scenario allowing his squad to finish in fourth place and qualify for the Champions League.
The positives they showed in the final handful of games of the 2020-21 season wasn’t enough to buy Pirlo more time at the helm despite being backed in the press by soon-to-be former Chief Football Officer Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved within the last few weeks.
From Juventus’ official website:
Thank you, Andrea.
These are the first words that all of us need to say at the end of this special experience together.
A few months ago, Andrea Pirlo, an icon of world football, began his new adventure, his first as a coach.
To do this, first of all, it takes courage, as well as awareness of one’s own means, especially in a period marked by thousands of difficulties, with the world forced by the pandemic to reinvent its own rules day after day.
Pirlo has just begun the first steps of what will no doubt become a brilliant career as a coach. An adventure of transformation, seeking, and often managing, to bring his ideas and his experience as a champion on the pitch from the “other side” of the fence.
Pirlo’s appointment came almost immediately after Juventus parted ways with Maurizio Sarri in the wake of their Champions League ousting at the hands of Lyon last August. It came all of one week after Pirlo was named the manager of Juventus’ Under-23 squad, which was the perfect kind of stepping stone for somebody getting their first crack at being the shot caller.
The struggles Pirlo and his team endured over his one season at the helm are well documented at this point. Some of the issues were completely out of Pirlo’s control, with the rookie manager being given an unbalanced squad that was again ill-equipped to make an impact in the midfield. Pirlo’s hybrid formation and tactical setup was sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss, and the biggest issue that hampered his squad all season long was the fact that they consistently dropped points against teams that were either mid- or lower-table squads. It’s the biggest reason as to why they had to pull a rabbit out of their hat the final weekend of the season — which, ironically, was the capper to quite a solid two-week run to close out the 2020-21 campaign.
But with the chance to hire Allegri, the result had to be cutting ties with Pirlo. Whether you think it’s deserved or not, Juventus had the chance to bring back the man they feel more comfortable with starting this new project in earnest — and it’s the guy who just so happened to be the manager in Pirlo’s final game in a Juventus jersey.