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Manu’s Grab Bag: Going from bad to worse

We talk historical letdowns, having to make a change and the one Argentinian bright spot.

Maccabi Haifa v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Nir Keidar/Soccrates/Getty Images

There’s a lot of ways that you can describe this Juventus season.

Frustrating is one of them. Hopeless is another. Generally devoid of joy is probably the most apt description and the one that really encompasses the vibes.

Because this hasn’t just been a run-of-the-mill bad season, it all applies. Hundreds of clubs— thousands even — have crappy seasons in all rungs of football around the whole wide world. This one has been particularly bad just because every time you think it can’t get worse, that Juventus can’t possibly be more disappointing they manage to pull it off.

The latest example happened on Tuesday, as Juventus not only lost to Maccabi Haifa by a 2-0 scoreline but got dog walked by a team that Transfermarkt estimates as being worth about 4% of the current value of Juventus roster.

We already knew Juve were not making it out of the Champions League group stage, but this loss puts the dream of Europa League in legit danger. How much lower can they get? Well, we have enough time to figure it out still.

Let’s cook.

LVP: Angel Di Maria

No player embodies the disappointing season that we are currently going through quite like Angel Di Maria.

In theory, he has all the talent in the world and is a legit game-changing player. But in practice, either due to injury or boneheadedness, we have seen so little of it. He was one of Juve’s big transfer bets to improve this team and, while he has shown he can be that guy, we just haven’t seen it enough for it to merit the bet the board made.

His muscle pull against Maccabi will sideline him for the rest of the month and maybe beyond. Was the previous performance against this very same club in which El Fideo had three assists end up as the highlight of his one-year Juve contract? It’s looking more and more like it will.

Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Dusan Vlahovic (7 Points)


Juventus is currently not in a position to look beyond anyone. They’ve dropped points against relegation battlers and title contenders alike. They are equal opportunity losers.

So for Max Allegri to rotate his starting lineup in a make-or-break Champions League game is just the latest in a series of decisions that make you question what exactly is going in with the manager and his staff. Bremer has been by far the most consistent defender on the team, and while Filip Kostic is no superstar by any means, he has been a reliable presence in a team that can boast so few.

And, look, I get the minutes were piling up on both of those guys but this game was the only winnable one left in your European schedule. This loss compromises not only the Champions League campaign — which was probably already done but now its really done - but it puts you at risk of losing third place as well.

We joke and kid about the Europa League, but losing out on the second-tier European competition exclusively because you felt that this was a gimme game speaks to the sheer obliviousness of this staff. With Juventus’ current form, there are no gimme games in the schedule anymore.

Shared History

Oh, Manchester United, no big club has as many of these fun facts as they do, huh?

Manchester United is a perfect example of how quick things can devolve for a club when the people in charge are incompetent. They have more money than God and yet they have failed to build a consistently winning project for years now. They lose patience in coaches, they make pointless and dumb signings and consistently underperform to their level of theoretical talent.

No disrespect to Maccabi Haifa — who played an incredible game — but there is no reason that a club with as many resources as Juventus should be losing these games in the manner they did.

Allegri deserves the lion’s share of the blame — and the fact he remains the coach is confounding at best — but this is a club that has been in a consistent tailspin for what feels like four years. The fact this is all crashing down this year is not just a coach doing a poor job or just a few players having bad spells of form.

It’s the undeniable and logical end result to years of mismanagement. And unless something changes at a fundamental level all those jokes we made at Manchester United’s expense the last few years are going to become a lot less fun quick.

Winner: Matias Soule

There is absolutely zero reason to not give the young Argentinian a start.

In his 15-minute cameo on Tuesday night, he looked livelier than the artist formerly known as Juan Cuadrado and was surprisingly composed for a teenager thrown in during one of the worst crisis that Juventus has dealt with in years.

Young guys can look like the next big thing one day and remarkably average the next — ask the shell of Moise Kean about that — but considering the ineffectiveness of recent youth development you have to assume that just by luck Juve is bound to come up with a couple of good players, no?

If Juventus does what I think they should do and they clean house, the first step in that process has to be to recognize what your actual assets are. The sooner we figure out if Soule is one of those the better.

Parting Shot of the Week

When Mexico was struggling to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and barely squeaked by to the playoff round, they fired their second coach of the cycle and installed Miguel Herrera.

Herrera was — and remains — a very talented coach but one who has a, let’s call it, fiery demeanor something that he retained from his playing days as a hard nosed center back. The first thing he did when he took over and faced his preparation friendlies was to pretty much call up an entirely new team. It didn’t matter that a lot of the newly called up players weren’t as good as their predecessors and when the actual World Cup rolled around a lot of the better players made it.

But it was a shake up to a group of guys that needed the wake up call. It was a change for change’s sake, but sometimes that’s what you need when your team is stuck in a rut.

I don’t know if there’s a great unemployed coach out there or if just playing with a bunch of youngsters is going to be a better product. But the point of making a change is here and it doesn’t matter what the change is at this point but the current approach is quickly going nowhere and there needs to be some acknowledgment of it.

See you Saturday.