Well, did you buckle up? 10 Minutes...10 minutes into a big match in the quest for a top 4 finish between Juventus and a mid-table side and somebody opens the scoring. Juventus opened the scoring right?! You would expect this but the way this season has been going even the most optimistic of Juventini would be carrying doubts if asked this. In this instance, it was Udinese who opened the scoring on yet another absolutely awful-looking goal to concede which has become a staple of Juve matches unfortunately this season... This was going to be a long match...ugh.
I've been watching Juve for a very long time, we are talking about 30 years ( that I can remember) and I have never walked away from a match and this was probably the closest I have come to doing so. It was another slow, uninspired, unimaginative, soulless performance yet again. The final 7 minutes being turned around by a Ronaldo brace, which I must admit got me out of my seat yelling and cheering, it still wasn't enough to stop me from thinking there is change required. Perhaps it's time to pull the trigger immediately in order to not lose that top 4 spots. The emotions and high off pulling a win like that, even seeing the celebration of the second goal with Pirlo jumping in the pile amongst the players, are nowhere near enough to mask the horror endured for the previous 83 minutes in this and many of the minutes as of late.
Something happened about a couple of weeks after the Porto defeat and maybe all the uncertainty around this club has started to leak into the squad. The players we should be counting on seem pretty disinterested and many just seem to be going through the motions. Even Pirlo himself seems stuck in this 4-4-2 rinse and repeat rut. I have no idea why he's landed on this after two of his other setups were more effective. We have many players' futures in question as well as our coaches and as of late even president, Agnelli himself is uncertain to continue with the club not to mention even Paratici and Nedved. Our leading goal scorer Ronaldo uncertain to want to stay and rumored to be looking at options he may have for an exit.
With all this going on in the background and being out of the running for the scudetto, it really shouldn't be a surprise we are getting these soulless performances. However, this is not an excuse and I will and do always expect our guys to go out with only one objective and that's a win and to give everything to ensure that happens. Meanwhile, I also understand if you're in an environment that seems to be anything but comfortable at the moment, it can be very hard to be inspired and fully focused. This top 4 finish is critical and they really need to get it together and make sure that happens.
This is why asking the question should we get rid of Pirlo now and not wait any longer is extremely valid. The issue is who would be the replacement? This week those rumors were all over the map. Zidane emerged as a potential suitor, depending on how Real Madrid did in their Semi-Final in the Champions League. Other names, still Allegri of course, and even Gattuso has emerged. One name that was removed was Mourinho who in a shock headline has taken the job at Roma. A spot that was apparently locked in for Sarri. I'm just happy he won't be coming to Juve if I'm being honest. Now in regards to the other names, while I believe we need to move away from Pirlo, it would have to be a top-tier manager, Gattuso for me is not that. I would rather just stick with Pirlo if Gattuso was going to be an option because the trade-off isn't big enough there and the stability with Pirlo might be more valuable.
Now, the big guns Allegri or Zidane? I would have to say my preference would be Zidane but you can't really go wrong between the two. These are coaches who should be working for Juventus and are at the level required. Pirlo, as I've stated many times, should never have been hired. In the grand scheme of things for a manager who has literally never coached before *IF* he finishes in the top 4 and with two trophies, that is *IF* he wins the Coppa Italia final, I think that would actually be a strong season of results for the first time ever manager. However, for Juventus, that's a different story and not where our expectations should be and for that, I blame the board for appointing him as a coach.
These were the discussions that pretty much consumed the week for Juventini and even some journalists hinting that they believe Juventus has already chosen their next coach. If that were the case, why not make the move now and get that extra time with this club? There is no momentum to risk ruining? If anything the jolt could be what we need to see things over the line. Also, to have this looming in the background with Pirlo and now even the players being asked about him and his future is just awkward and bizarre. Especially given the circumstances again battling for a finish in the top 4, which would have major implications for the club. This last month and a half have felt like that meme where the character is sitting in a room with a raging fire, sipping on his drink saying "this is fine". I feel like that is what our club is doing rather than acting on it. Maybe they are trying to see Pirlo finish the season up out of respect, but again too risky if you ask me. Lackluster performances piling up one after another making a statement and committing to someone of a high caliber could be the pick-me-up required.
To top things off: as I write this, the news broke out today of UEFA's punishment on the 9 clubs who bailed on the Super League, with bigger punishment set for Juventus, a possible ban from competitions for a couple of seasons as well as fines and penalties. When it rains it pours right? First off, in terms of the punishment for the other 9 clubs: if that doesn't scream dictatorship I don't know what does. That was the exact fear I had when I stated they shouldn't have panicked and should've stuck to their guns. For Juventus and Agnelli it seems they are ready to go to war against UEFA. Very much on par with the rest of our season... Buckle up.
Through all this, the only thing that matters still for us is getting top 4. We have a crucial match in that race against Milan that is ahead of us this weekend. The good news is Chiesa, who killed Milan earlier in the season for us, should be back in the fold. With three matches remaining after this one, a win would go a long way given the results of Saturday's matches, which we will know in advance. This, as well as having to watch bitter rivals celebrate the scudetto victory, should all make this a very easy match to be motivated for. However, we have all said this many times this year and still see a squad on the pitch who looks far too easily brushed aside no matter who the opposition. I've always said, I can take losing but it's how we lose that upsets me. I have a hard time stomaching performances where our players just can't lineup across from their man and beat them, just do your job and trust your teammates and give it everything you have. If I see that I will be fine with whatever happens and to be honest I felt we were getting that in the earlier part of the season. Unfortunately, somewhere along the lines after that Champions League exit, we lost even the fight, and that I cannot accept. Let's hope for a fight, let's hope for a result. We can easily beat Milan but as always, Juve can be their own worst enemy, and it will depend on which Juventus shows up. Let's hope they can put the noise aside and get the job done.
Enjoy the match Juventini!
Forza Juve Fino Alla Fine