Maccabi Haifa had looked a handful in their first two Champions League Group H games against Paris St Germain and Benfica, and then gave Juventus a big fright in Turin last week. Once again tonight the Israeli side looked up for the fight and took the game to a lame Bianconeri side and ran out deservedly 2-0 winners, not only ending Juventus hopes of going into the knockout rounds of the tournament but also placing into peril the chance to stay in Europe via the Europa League.
Juventus are increasingly the picture of a football club that time and evolution have passed by. The coach’s prehistoric tactics and formations have been found out and he’s shown little to no adaptability. Many of the players still walk around with a false sense of confidence instilled by successive Scudetti years ago, but with little to back up that arrogance. That the club will need to rebuild there is no doubt, but when you look at the people in charge of that and some of the decisions that have been made in recent years, it’s difficult to have any confidence that it will be done correctly.
Club president Andrea Agnelli was the first addressing the media instead of the coach, and it was not with news that coach Massimiliano Allegri had been relieved of his position.
“This is a difficult night in a difficult period. It is one of the most difficult periods and the moment to take responsibility, which is why I am here. I feel ashamed for what is happening, I am angry, but I also know that football is played with 11 men, you lose and win with 11.
“In a situation like this, it’s not about one person. It’s a matter to be dealt with by a whole group. We feel ashamed, we apologise to our fans, because we know they must feel ashamed to walk around at the moment.
“Allegri is the coach of Juventus and he will remain as the coach of Juventus.”
Speculation has been that the only reason Allegri had not been shown the door yet was because of the astronomical wages he is on and the financial hit the club would take.
“No, no, you are completely off track here. It cannot be the fault of the coach if we don’t win a single tackle on the field.
“Juventus have always evaluated situations at the end of the year. I always struggled to consider a dismissal during a season and I continue to believe that.
“This is a group of 80-90 people working here and we must rediscover our spirit, allowing the team to put its qualities onto the pitch.”
Allegri did not have too much to say after this latest humiliation for the once-proud club.
“All we can do is keep quiet right now. Our performance was not up to par, especially from a character point of view. Tomorrow, we will return and stay at Continassa until the Turin derby, we owe that to the club, to the fans and to ourselves.
“We’re speaking about heart and soul, because everyone is playing for themselves and I don’t like it: it’s a question of wanting to suffer together and to be united.
“The president is right to say that we should be ashamed, this has been one of the worst days of recent times, and staying together will do us well to work, rest and reflect.
“I’ve never thought about resigning, because the more difficult the challenge becomes, the better the feeling to overcome it. This thought must enter everyone’s heads so that we respond with courage, desire and passion.”
Juan Cuadrado is one of the squad that looks past his prime, but insisted that all hope was not lost.
“Unfortunately, these things happen in football. We must try to turn the page as soon as possible, get our heads on Serie A now, as we can only emerge from this situation if we are united.
“There is the risk of elimination, but we can get out of this situation if we are united. As long as there’s a chance, we must believe to the end, keep working, give 100 per cent and hope things change.”
What were his thoughts on if Allegri needed to be fired?
“The coach is doing everything to get us back on track, we are all a team and it’s more the fault of those of us on the field. We must give more, starting from the more experienced ones.
“We need to have faith in ourselves as a team and a family. We have emerged from many difficult situations before and I think this is an opportunity to do it again.”