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Manu’s Grab Bag: The end, at last

We talk poetic justice, farewell for an underrated player and the season from hell.

Udinese Calcio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Timothy Rogers/Getty Images

In a lot of ways, it made sense that Juventus finished their season by playing out an uninspired, drab, barely there victory over a team that they are much more talented than in their third kits that had no link, nor identity with the history of the club.

If that wasn't the 2022-23 Juventus in a nutshell ...

I can’t remember the last time the general feeling of the Juventus faithful was of relief that a season has come to an end, much like you would do with a long sickness or maybe an injury rehab. Yeah, it sucked, but I just want this to be over with by any means necessary.

For the last time in this godforsaken year ... Let’s cook.

MVP: Danilo

Danilo had another quietly great game, but this is almost more of an emeritus award given the fact the he was one of the few bright spots of the season.

His switch to center back in a three-man backline was the catalyst for Juve’s best stretch of the season and his rise to a legitimate figure of leadership in a locker room that had to deal with a litany of off the field issues was nothing short of extraordinary.

In a year in which the players that you could trust day-in and day-out was significantly shorter than you would like, the Brazilian Swiss army knife was decidedly one of them.

(I’ll be honest, I was keeping a tally of the points that the Grab Bag awarded to crown the season long MVP until somewhere in February — I think — when a misbegotten laptop update and a poor interpretation on my part of what that update would do, deleted all my files. And I hate to tell you, dear readers, I did not go back to review well over 30 pieces on our site’s very poor search tool to check what the tally was. So, the Grab Bag MVP of this year is whichever player your heart desires. You imagine it. It's modern art like that.)

Runner Up: Adrien Rabiot - Another emeritus award for one of the most polarizing players that has worn the Juve shirt in recent years. You know what, let’s talk about him just a tad more.

So long, Adrien Rabiot

Recent reports suggest that Juventus will make one final offer to the French midfielder to try and keep him on the team. But, given all the reported requests that Rabiot’s entourage — his mom — has regarding his wages moving forward, I think its fair to say that Juve’s offer is almost exclusively done for the sake of saving face and good manners.

We can also fairly assume that Rabiot has played his last game as a Juve player, and what a weird Bianconeri stint he had.

In a way, he was cursed from the moment he signed his massive four-year deal. With the wages he was on, he would have to perform as one of the best midfielders in the league pretty much every season for him to live up to that contract and he was never really put into position to do that.

His skillset never fit either Maurizio Sarri’s nor Andrea PIrlo’s styles of play, and those were the years in which most Juve fans made up their mind about the guy. But, to his credit, the minute Max Allegri consistently lined him up in his natural box-to-box role he was far and away one of the better more consistent players this team had for a good year and a half.

This season he finally lived up to his contract this year and then some. He was extremely reliable — he made 48 appearances in all competitions — and astonishingly effective in front of goal with 11 scores and six assists. Sure, a season and a half out of four of living up to your wages is probably not all that great, but it wasn’t his fault that Juve’s previous regime game him that absurd deal from the get go.

In this here blog we salute you, Adrien Rabiot, may you make millions and millions of Euros thanks to some Premier League team with a lot more money than common sense. Keep getting dem checks, my guy.

Poetic Justice

Sure, of course, it had to end this way. It had to.

Paulo Dybala scoring a goal at the buzzer to keep Juventus out of Europa League and into the depths of Conference League — UEFA revenge ban pending — was just too perfect of a finish for this season. The script makers in Serie A really wanted to end it with a flourish, no?

Just to throw a bit more salt in the wound, the goal marked Dybala’s 18th score in all competitions to close out his first year with Roma, a figure that would have easily led the category for a remarkably toothless Juventus attack that tried to substitute the Argentine’s offensive output with Angel Di Maria and Paul Pogba a plan that failed rather spectacularly.

(Dybala’s biggest knock was his health, and while he was far from an ironman he did tally 38 total appearances only two fewer than Di Maria and significantly more than Pogba. Perhaps the men making decisions in Juve’s front office the last few seasons didn’t really have their hand on the pulse, huh?)

Parting Shot of the Week

The results on the field were bad, the off the field issues were worse, the team managed to do all that while playing an unappealing, ineffective style for the majority of time while dropping pretty much every meaningful game in domestic league and ending the season — yet again — without any silverware to speak of.

Their European competition was a disaster, most of their key players underperformed, got hurt or both, the coach was largely despised by every segment of the fanbase and maybe the players too by the end of it.

I can’t remember a less enjoyable season as a Juve fan in a while. Can’t wait to do it all over again in a few months from now. Thanks for sticking around.

See you next season.