Max is back! Just in case you forgot that Juventus relieved Andrea Pirlo of his duties at the end of a disappointing season before the exploits of the Italian national team took over the headlines, the Bianconeri brought Massimiliano Allegri back into the fold two years later.
During his official unveiling today, club President Andrea Agnelli spoke first, starting off by congratulating the Azzurri for their European Championships win before re-introducing Allegri. The 53-year-old started off by revealing he had turned down an approach from Real Madrid President Florentino Perez over the summer.
“I must thank Real Madrid president for the opportunity he gave me. I picked Juventus because of my love for this club and because I believe in this young team. It’s going to be amusing to coach these players, but we must win as well. It’s the most important thing.”
He went on to say that he was excited to return after already overseeing a preseason friendly over the weekend, noting that more youngsters needed inculcating in the Juventus way.
“I feel thrilled and amused. I’ve had all young players so far, good players who did well on Saturday in the first friendly match of the summer. The first-team players are coming back, they will all be available from Tuesday. Now it’s not time to talk about the past, we need to focus on the future.
“I thank the other clubs who had made an offer to me, but I woke up in the morning and called Andrea [Agnelli], asking him for a meeting. I am grateful he allowed me to return to coaching and win, which is what matters the most. I watched many games during my time off, especially at the end of the second year.
“I begin a new chapter at Juventus, this team is made of many young players who need to develop.
“There are also experienced players, such as Ronaldo, Chiellini and Bonucci. These three must be an added value for the club and the team, bringing experience and technique on the pitch, but they must also be role models for the young players.
“What we did will remain in history, two years ago we decided to part ways, now we start from scratch to achieve our goals. I am proud that Juventus called me and I am proud of the fans’ love. From now, we just need to focus on the pitch. Juventus’ DNA is a particular one, every win comes from daily work. I found a team that won one title in the last two seasons and two more trophies last term. They did a good job, and I have a good team.”
As Juve fell away from the Scudetto race last campaign rumours grew that Cristiano Ronaldo would leave, possibly for Paris, what were Allegri’s thoughts on him?
“Ronaldo is a great player and a smart guy. I spoke to him yesterday as I did with the others. I told him this is an important season and that I am happy to meet him again, now he has more responsibility, because three years ago we had a more experienced team, while now there are younger players.
“I expect a lot from him in terms of responsibility, he is in good condition and he is fit. There are different moments in a season and playing one game every three days, I’ll need to rotate the team, involving all the players. I imagine the player’s management wasn’t easy during the last year and a half due to the COVID pandemic.
“The only thing I am sure about is that Ronaldo scores goals, regardless of where he plays. He and Dybala don’t make many mistakes in front of the goal, other players such as Rabiot must improve, he can score more.”
Paulo Dybala is another star player whose future seems to be murky with his current deal expiring at the end of this season.
“Dybala is also very fit, physically and mentally. He is a player who can score goals, even 20 or 25 each season. He can take free-kicks so he can make the difference. In terms of his experience at Juve, he can be the vice-captain because Bonucci left Juventus and then returned. I expect a lot from him, I’ve spoken to him and he is very motivated.”
Juve have an old and experienced backbone, who would Allegri be turning to for leadership?
“The captain and vice-captain are decided depending on how long they’ve been playing in the team. So Chiellini is the most experienced one, followed by Dybala. Bonucci left for one season, he made that decision, so if he wants the captain’s armband, he must buy it and play with it in the street. Leo is aware of it.
“In my last season at Juventus, Mandzukic and Khedira wore the captain’s armband because Leo had fallen behind in the pecking order. Paulo didn’t have a good season last term, and now he can prove his worth. He is 28, he is mature and I’ve had a great perception. He was a boy, now he is a man, he scores goals and that’s important in football. I expect a lot from him, as usual. There is enthusiasm and this is the most important thing.”
Would Dybala then be taking freekicks instead, considering Ronadlo’s abysmal record at them?
“It depends on the situation, perhaps Ronaldo can take long-range free kicks, but the situation is easy because one is right-footed and the other one is left-footed. Then, we’ll see if another right-footed free-kick tacker arrives…”
Who did he see as Juve’s biggest rivals in Italy next season after there has been upheaval across most of the top sides?
“Many important coaches have returned, Spalletti to Napoli, Mourinho to Roma, Sarri to Lazio.
“Inter are the favourite because they won last season, we need to start a path to win the title. This season will be difficult, Milan have improved, so their young players have one more year of experience, they are among the favourites with Roma, Lazio and Napoli.
“It’s hard to predict how many points we’ll need to win the title, maybe between 86 and 88, we need to play the games, the fixture list is not important, we’ll organize in the best way to win games, knowing we must adapt to broadcasters and TV rights. They are among the main sponsors, so that we won’t complain.
“We have the Super Cup, the Coppa Italia and then the Champions League, which is a desire we must all have. First of all, we must go beyond the group stage, we want to be involved in all competitions in March.”
Allegri also commented on some of the lesser lights in the squad who were not at the club a couple of season ago, as well as some of the rule changes while he was out of the game.
“I am not accustomed to using five subs, maybe I’ll start with three, I don’t know. It’s a good opportunity, but it’s up to the coach to handle them.
“Kulusevski is a great player, he can score more goals so he can improve. I think this team’s target is to go all the way through, win as many trophies as possible and improve these players, which is why I was given the job. A coach must bring the result and create value.
“We need to score goals and concede as little as possible, the best defence usually wins the title, I think the only exception in the last few years was Sarri’s Scudetto, but it was a tough season due to COVID.
“Rabiot is a player with important qualities. He scored three goals last term, and I think he can do better than that.
“McKennie has an eye for the goal. I am lucky because many players can find the net: Ronaldo, Dybala, Morata, Rabiot, McKennie, Chiesa, Bernardeschi. We need to score at least 75 goals next season, there is great potential.
“I didn’t have a chance to see Arthur because he underwent surgery straight away, I hope he recovers soon because this is a strange injury and a quite rare one, we must be lucky, we are waiting for him.”
How about Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi, who have been used both up and down the wings.
“I must have the whole team at my disposal and this will only happen from Tuesday. I must consider that those who played the Euros may struggle to play many games in a row, I’ll need to manage the players properly, we have 15-20 days to prepare for the season because and after two matchdays, they’ll join their national teams again.
“My thought on Bernardeschi is that there are good and bad footballers. A bad season can happen, many things happen on and off the pitch. Bernardeschi is an important player who will arrive with the right mentality.
“There is room for improvement and this is the best thing about this team.”
Juventus’ midfield has been a weak point in recent campaigns, did he think the area needed bolstering, with the club constantly being linked with Manuel Locatelli?
“We will decide what we can do together with the club, I don’t have more powers than before, I work in sync with the club, when we need to make a decision, we speak all together and we decide. My role has always been this one.
“I don’t talk about Locatelli, it’s related to the market, and I don’t talk about it.
“We must know we don’t have much time to get prepared, so must this time wisely, because on Tuesday we’ll be a group, but we need to work together to become a team.”
Quotes courtesy of Football Italia