The thermometers are all dropping. The evergreen boughs have been hung. Lights are twinkling on houses. Chocolate is heating, cider is mulling, and people are keeping a keen ear out to keep away from Wham’s “Last Christmas.” (I personally came agonizingly close to surviving this year’s Whammagedon only to get Whammed on Tuesday, five days short of pay dirt.)
The public squares are filled with trees and menorahs and kinaras and, if we’re lucky, aluminum poles.
Yeah, you heard that last one right.
That’s right, everyone. It’s that most wonderful time of year. Festivus is upon us!
And in keeping with the honored traditions of the Festivus for the rest of us, now that we’ve had our Festivus meal, it is time to begin the Airing of Grievances. Unfortunately, this year Juventus has given us plenty to get off our chest.
So, without further ado ... I GOT A LOTTA PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE, AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA HEAR ABOUT IT!
Yes, you, Fabio.
I know you can hear me all the way in London. You haven’t even been employed by the team since before last Festivus and you’ve still made this piece twice in a row.
I took you to task for your insanely shoddy roster construction last year, but what’s come to light this year is far, far worse. Based on much of the evidence that has been leaked regarding Juve’s current financial scandal, the impetus of almost all of it was you. Your own right-hand man, Federico Cherubini, both on wiretapped conversations and in his own written notes, pointed out just how insane your manipulation of capital gains was getting, and how you completely ignored the danger that you ultimately put the club in.
Whether or not the team receives heavy punishments from both the legal and sporting systems, the fact that you even put it in this kind of jeopardy to begin with makes my head turn into Anger from Inside Out, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. The effects of this potential malfeasance, regardless of what it turns out to be, will reverberate long after they’re imposed, and long after the ridiculous rosters you put together are put right by better sporting directors.
Your name belongs amongst the worst ever associated with Juventus.
A few weeks ago, the primary reason the former president was on this list was because of his behavior in the Paulo Dybala saga, which, by the end, had become disrespectful and craven. But then this all happened.
Paratici may have been the key motivator in how the financial scandal started, but you were the president. You were, really, his only superior. The buck stopped with you.
WHY DID YOU LET THIS CONTINUE?!?!?!?!
Whether you went along with the scheme because it was the only thing propping up the books while you indulged in your new obsession with recruiting Galacticos, were actively involved in it for the same reason, or simply blithely ignorant of either its existence or extent, all roads lead to the same thing: the club you were running was going down a bad path and you let it go far, far too far along before the wolves started peering out from behind the trees.
You had a responsibility not just to the finances and on-field product of Juventus, but also to its image. This is something you should have known deeply, because, frankly, you’ve been obsessed with it given your quest to turn the club into a global brand as quickly as humanly possible. Regardless of whether or not there was true wrongdoing or if this scandal will ultimately be judged by one’s own moral evaluations of the club’s conduct, the fact of the matter is that that image, already deeply tarnished by Calciopoli — the effects of which you were brought in to pull the club out of in 2010 — will now carry an even deeper stain in the eyes of adversaries and neutrals alike.
And that is on you, Mr. Agnelli. Your legacy, perhaps more so than the nine straight championships, will be the deepening of the idea throughout the footballing world that Juventus are cheats. And that, sir, is your ultimate failure.
You were not the only problem this year, but you were a major one. Your stubborn refusal to 1) do anything other than play a passive defensive game, 2) deploy players in their proper positions, and 3) trust young players with any playing time unless you absolutely had to held this team back in a major way. This was especially so after Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria were unexpectedly added to your arsenal at the end of January. Neither had the desired effect on the team, the latter because you refused to play him where his best qualities would tell and the former because your tactics were wholly unsuited to exploiting his skill set.
The results on the field have been dire. Juventus have crashed out of the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14 — the year before you first arrived. Embarrassing losses to the likes of Monza (1-0) and Maccabi Haifa (2-0) exposed a toothless team that was far less than the sum of its parts and players that looked like they didn’t know what they were doing.
Now, it’s not all bad. You ended the season on a six-game league winning streak, and in recent games against Inter and Lazio it looked like the team had finally taken a step toward being more proactive. That, plus some fortunate results elsewhere in the league, propelled Juve all the way to third in the table when the league stopped for the World Cup.
Now the challenge is keeping that going. Do that, and you might avoid this article next year.
It is genuinely nice to see you back. You always look like you’re having a ton of fun. You’ve got this cheeky little glint in your eye when you get that goofy smile of yours on your face.
But we’ve only seen that smile on the field and in uniform for all of 45 minutes in a friendly — and that’s largely your own damn fault. If you’d had surgery on your knee the minute it was recommended to you in August you probably would’ve likely been back on the field contributing for a while now, to say nothing of not missing the World Cup. Instead, your misguided attempt to rehab a torn meniscus (not a method that is known to be effective on cartilage, but whatever) has led to your missing the entire year so far, and now you might not be back until February ... if any of us even believe you’ll be back at all this season.
All for the low low price of €10 million. Not what we were expecting.
ANGEL DI MARIA
Speaking of lots of money for not a lot of return, you, Noodle Man, are second only to you teammate here. You’ve missed 11 of 21 games the team has played since the season started, and of the 10 you’ve played in only two, the league opener against Sassuolo and the home game against Maccabi, have you been remotely as advertised.
The rest of the season has been a litany of muscle injuries, leavened with a multi-game suspension you earned when you took leave of your senses and planted an elbow in Federico Fazio’s chest right in front of the referee against Monza. The fact that you missed a few games at the World Cup with similar injuries is enough to give you the benefit of the doubt about holding back for Juve with an eye to the tournament—but seeing you fly around in dominant fashion in the final after seeing you not come close to that on the club level with any sort of consistency was maddening.
We know you won’t be back next season, but we’d appreciate seeing a little more giddyup in what time you have left in a Juve shirt.
And now, for some quick hits:
Your time as CEO saw some interesting things go down. The dual swoop for Vlahovic and Zakaria was an encouraging step for your emerging partnership with Cherubini. Your conduct during the nadir of the Dybala contract saga was less great. While you were perhaps brutally honest when you assessed it for the press, such honesty was probably best left for after the season was over, as opposed to a time when the player still had to play games in a Juve uniform.
Your penchant for running your mouth with little filter in front of a microphone is the main reason you’re on this list. You very often managed to somehow find things to say to the tape recorders in your face that shouldn’t necessarily have gone on the record. Of course, now you’re gone with the rest of the board, with little other than Vlahovic to show for it.
I love you. You’re talented AF. But watching you get physically overmatched not only by elite defenders but by relatively ordinary ones as well is a concern. Of course, the tactics you’ve been forced to play in don’t help — which is probably why all the rumors of your potential exit have begun swirling — but the fact of the matter is that regardless you have to get a little stronger so you don’t get taken out of the game by the simple expedient of grappling with you.
Age is not treating you well, dude. You’re still capable of the odd good game, but you’re this close to washed, and it’s time you stepped to the bench and did some mentoring from there while the next generation of the defense takes shape.
I love you, but it’s time. Father Time wins over us all at some point, and this season you look like you’ve just hit a brick wall. Your service has been exceptional, but moving on from each other is probably the best course of action at this time.
Alright, now that that’s done, the festivities continue with the Feats of Strength. Paratici, you’re the one this year. Festivus is not over until the author gets pinned.
I’m going to enjoy this.