Upon doing a little bit of research for the newest coach to join the Juventus ranks, I came across a very noticeable and important piece of information: Joe Montemurro may not have been born in Italy, but he is every bit of an Italian fellow like his last name suggest. He has spent time in Italy as a player, he has also done his coaching badge work at Coverciano.
He may be an Australian by birth, but he is very much an Italian through and through.
What also makes me say that? Well, this photo and the facial expression captured — to go along with the scarf and somewhat long hair going all over the place — certainly doesn’t hurt it at all.
But there is obviously much more to Montemurro on top of the high-quality reactions and the perma-5 o’clock shadow that is present in every photo of him in our system. He is the man now tasked with continuing the progress that Rita Guarino started during an incredibly successful four-year run as Juventus Women’s manager.
So, to educate fans of Montemurro’s new employer, I decided to seek the help of a fan of his old employer. Luckily for us, SB Nation has some quality folks over at their Arsenal blog, The Short Fuse. That includes Aidan Gibson, who is the man who does a lot of writing about the Arsenal women’s team.
What’s better than one Oregon resident talking ball? That would be two Oregon guys talking ball. So here’s my conversation with Aidan, who provided some very good insight into just who the new Juventus Women manager is and what he is going to try and implement during his time in Turin.
BWRAO: Hello, Aidan! Thank you for helping us out with this Q&A. We’ll get the very easy question out of the way right off the bat: What kind of coach is Joe Montemurro?
TSF: Joe is very much a project coach. He sees things not in terms of single-game results, or even single-season results, but as a whole project over the course of two to three years. He is, by all accounts, very player-centric. This leads into his style of play (which I’ll get into) but also his preference for smaller squads; he doesn’t want players to feel uninvolved.
BWRAO: Rita Guarino was known for her direct style of play. Does Joe go along these same lines or will we see a different kind of look from Juve next season?
TSF: If Guarino was a direct coach, Joe is the complete opposite. Arsenal were possession dominant, frequently looking to play out from the back, and combining that with fluidity in the midfield and attack. At their best in 2018/19, they were a good pressing team too, though that fell off in recent seasons. Montemurro has two or three “style rules” that he puts on the team to learn, principles that remain consistent no matter who is playing, or the system that they’re playing. He’ll change from a back four to a back three, and he’ll make different tweaks based on the opposition, but the style comes first.
BWRAO: The Montemurro hire, at least from some Serie A Femminile sources in Italy, is being viewed as a hire that is with Juventus Women trying to take the next step and being far more competitive in Europe on top of continuing their dominance in Italy. Is Joe the right kind of manager to help them take that next step?
TSF: That’s an interesting question. In the last two seasons, Arsenal have really struggled in big games: they’ve lost their last 4 games against Manchester City, they’ve not beaten Chelsea since October 2018, and they went out of the 2019-20 Champions League against PSG. The City and PSG losses hurt especially because I don’t think there’s necessarily a huge gap between the sides; Chelsea are obviously very, very good, and have maybe the second strongest squad in Europe. So, his big game record is actually a point against him, and one of the reasons, I think, that he called time at Arsenal. That being said, at the beginning of his reign, he had a good record against Manchester City, and beat Chelsea 5-0 at Kingsmeadow. All in all, I think he’ll make sure there isn’t a shock exit, but I don’t think there’s much that can be done if Juve come up against a Barcelona, an OL, a Chelsea, etc.
BWRAO: Joe has been in Italy as a player and got his coaching classes done at Coverciano. How much do you think being familiar with Italy will help him?
TSF: I think that’ll be a huge help. He’s fluent in Italian, and while people thought leaving to spend more time with his family meant returning to Australia, I didn’t find his move to Juventus surprising at all. He has, as his name indicates, an Italian background, and he has family in Italy.
BWRAO: Final question: Do you think this is a good hire by Juventus?
TSF: I think it is. Montemurro’s strength is his ability not only to win games that he should, but do so comprehensively. He does develop players. Katie McCabe, who recently signed a new contract, went from being on the verge of leaving Arsenal when Montemurro came in, and was the best left back in the WSL this past season, despite being a winger by trade. You just need to see the way in which players, such as Leah Williamson, hold him in regard. And while I would say he was privileged to be able to coach Vivianne Miedema, he also utilized her well, which wasn’t the case at Bayern Munich. If Juve’s aim is to win the Champions League in the next 3-5 years, then maybe Montemurro isn’t the manager to do that, but I think he’ll bring Juve to a good level, which is what he did at Arsenal.