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Manu’s Summer Grab Bag: 3’s and 7’s

There’s finally some games underway, but the next great Juve team is still not all quite here.

Juventus Training Session Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Getty Images

What’s the most superficial thing you judge people for?

I have two — astrology and elevators.

One is more straightforward to understand, the other one less, so both are kinda dumb ways of judging people. But, I never said I was perfect and I’m sure everyone does the same to certain extent in terms of being quick to make snap judgements of people based exclusively on one data point of their life and personality.

Either way, if you legitimately live your life and make decisions based upon the random movements of celestial bodies. I will think less of you as a person. Them’s the breaks. I’m not even sorry about it. And I don’t mean regular folks who know their sign — Pisces, by the way — or look for their horoscope in trashy magazines while waiting at the check out line. Most people do that and it’s fine.

I mean the legit psychos who will call off work meetings or straight up not do something because Mercury is in retrograde or whatever the hell. That is just not reasonable behavior and I refuse to think that these people are functioning members of society like you or I am.

Oh yeah ... elevators. That’s trickier to explain.

My apartment building is 21 floors and I live on the 18th floor of the building. In order to move us all around, it comes with two elevator shafts, one for the even floors and for the uneven. I live on an even floor and the elevator that belongs to our section broke down a couple of weeks ago. While they scramble to fix it, we’ve been using the other unit which leads to a decision to make when hitting which floor to arrive.

Do you go one floor above yours to walk down a flight of stairs or do you go one below to walk up a flight? I strongly believe that if you choose to go down instead of up you are the type of person that will always take the easy way out when it’s available and have an inherently weak constitution because of it.

Is it smart or good to make this judgements? Absolutely not. People are complex, nuanced and contain multitudes. I 100% guarantee you that some of the people I have judged are nothing like what I imagine them to be because of these dumb factoids.

Still, come on ... one flight of stairs? What are you a goddamned Capricorn?

Let’s cook.

Conference League no more

This week delivered the ruling that we were all halfway expecting regarding Juve’s European future, as UEFA levied a ban against the Bianconeri that banished them from playing in continental competitions for the upcoming season.

In most years, this would have been a pretty catastrophic scenario for a team like Juventus. However, thanks to the previous punishment handed down from FIGC before the season ended, the competition that Juventus happens to lose out on is the 2023-24 Conference League.

The reaction from the Juventus faithful to the news has been an earth-shattering shrug of indifference — and with good reason. No disrespect to the Conference League, but if Juve would have played in the competition one of two things would have happened.

Either they win it, which they were supposed to do anyway because they would have been widely favored to do so; or they don’t and they are thoroughly mocked due to their inability to win a competition in which multiple teams from Romania feature in.

It was probably this reason why the Juventus’ high command decided to stop fighting the allegations and just took the punishment on the chin with the general resolve of and organization who’s only desire is to get it over with.

In general, I do believe that Juventus engaged in a number of dumb shenanigans that merited some sort of punishment, but when it’s all said and done I can’t imagine we will look back at this and not think that the club got railroaded by the powers that be.

My kingdom for a signing

We are now officially three weeks away from Juve’s first match of the 2023-24 season against Udinese and this squad remains just as frustratingly similar as it was last year.

I think we were all under the understanding that massive investment was going to be pretty challenging considering, well, everything. But so far this team is the same one that struggled to a top four place last season — sul campo, at least — with the addition of Timothy Weah and the return of Nicolo Rovella from his loan spell at Monza and I sure don’t know if that’s enough to move the needle.

(To his credit, Weah looked really good in his first start for Juventus in the Soccer Champions Tour matchup against Milan a few days ago.)

There’s a scenario where bounce-back performances from Federico Chiesa, Dusan Vlahovic and Paul Pogba along with a less-compressed schedule help this team to a better showing, but it’s hard to be extremely excited about the prospects of the Bianconeri considering that many of the glaring deficiencies haven’t been addressed.

(But, hey, Facundo Gonzalez is probably going to sign! For the Next Gen most likely, but still, that’s kind of a promising player, no?)

You could also argue that Cristiano Giuntoli was awaiting on confirmation of their European future before doing much of anything. There’s no question that building a squad that wants to play deep into three competitions is different than building one for just two. And now that Juventus is slated to play once a week for most of the season, it alleviates a lot of the need to have a super-deep squad — which means that Giuntoli’s job might be a lot more about trimming the fat than bringing in new players.

I still hope — perhaps foolishly — that we get at least some sort of squad renewal. It doesn’t have to be big ticket signings exclusively, but a more balanced team would be good for everyone.

See you next week.