After 5 years we split naturally and I'm sorry they lost today. In 2019 there was a difference of views, but Agnelli didn't tell me he would get Sarri. We agreed on many things, but almost without realizing it we separated. The choice was the president's but with Andrea, there is still a wonderful relationship and it was a five-year period full of joy, where things fitted together well... victories and important market choices... It's true that after 5 years it becomes more difficult to pass on the same things to the players and this is also why Agnelli, Paratici, and Nedved decided to replace me. But that year we scored a lot of points and won a championship in 30 games. Of course, the elimination in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Ajax caused something to think about and that end of the season was the logical end of the relationship between Juve and myself.
Back to Juve?
I get attached to the teams I coach, as I do to Milan and Cagliari. It doesn't seem like it, but I'm passionate. Maybe I would come back to Juve, but it's impossible to say today and Pirlo is doing a great job.
Juventus at the moment
You need to be patient, players are not like cars. All teams have gone from good times to less good times. Juventus has a chance to win the Coppa Italia final, if they make the top 4, I think it will be a positive year. Maybe Juve could have been closer to Inter, but you have to understand the dynamics, evaluate some things. But if the best players in Serie A are still those who are older, like Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, and when Chiellini plays, we need to think about this.
What is missing at Juventus?
Sometimes it happens that from the outside you completely misjudge certain players. So how can I say what Juventus are missing? They have made a good team, Chiesa is doing very good things and Morata started well then had the virus, they are in the final of the Coppa Italia, they won the Italian Super Cup, the Champions League is always an unknown and Covid has upset many balances, and in the league, they are still fighting for the top 4. They have quality, but when there is a generational change the characteristics of the players also change. Look at the defense: Chiellini plays differently, Barzagli is no longer there, they have to recreate a soul. Then depending on who's playing next to you, maybe you perform differently, they have to complete each other. All teams go through good times and bad times, but this can still be a positive year. Of course, they could have been a little closer to Inter, but you also have to consider injuries and many other things.
No to Real Madrid
Three years ago I was approached by the president of Real Madrid, but I said no and that I wanted to stay at Juve.
Chiellini and Brazagli
I think they have quality, but now Barzagli is gone, Chiellini is playing less, you have to rebuild the soul of the team. When Chiellini and Barzagli were defending in training, you could really see them enjoying defending, it was beautiful to see, they were getting excited...phenomenal.
First-year as a coach
I do not know the specific difficulties of Andrea Pirlo, but I know for sure that coaching is a very difficult job and you cannot explain how to do it. Moreover, there are two coaches in one: the one who works from Monday to Friday, then there is the weekend coach when there is a match, and there the management of the unexpected cannot be explained. But also the management of the week and especially that of people, those are not written in books. When they asked me to come and see my training sessions I said 'please come, I'm not sending missiles to the moon." but you can't explain how to be a coach. They are qualities that one has. Like the right way to communicate and treat the various players.
When he came from Palermo I told him: "you played center forward there but you started 50 meters from the goal, here at Juve you can't do that." He's extraordinary alongside a striker, and he's a player who scores goals. I learned this from Galeone, who moved me down from the trequartista role I had previously played as a youngster. Conte has managed to do something similar with Eriksen.
We all need to roll up our sleeves. I have heard all the comments on the elimination of the Italian teams in Europe and we have to do a lot of thinking. I've been seen as a counterbalance to the players, but it's not that they're right or I'm wrong, or the opposite. I grew up as an old-fashioned coach, and we shouldn't throw away everything we've been taught. Just as you don't throw away everything about today's ideas. The word "balance" is needed in life and in football: when I hear talk of playing from the back etc everything is fine, but football is serious business.
Juventus - Inter
Inter players like Barella and Bastoni have grown a lot and after leaving Europe they have become a team that can play to win. And they are more grouped than Juventus who have changed a lot. Even just changing two players means a lot.
Great games are won with great defenses, said the great basketball coach Messina. We lost the final against Real Madrid in Cardiff because we defended worse than they did. When two teams are balanced, the loser is the one who can't stop the opponents from scoring goals.
At Chievo they showed me the ball possession, Buffon had the ball for 1 and a half minutes and the center-backs 45sec. So I told the team: "You choose, I'm democratic, either you don't pass the ball to Buffon anymore, or you play without a goalkeeper.
The player must be put back at the center of everything. Of course, you need tactics, no coach does not organize his team. But then we complain if in Europe the opponent's players pass the ball at 100 mph...You have to ask yourself some questions! Start working in the youth sectors, and not just to say: technique and individual tactics, speed... Today the best players in Italian football are the great old men like Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic.
I am very sorry to say this, but players today are a tool to prove that coaches are good. A coach is good when he wins and creates value. I get excited and fall in love with my players. Yesterday I saw Ronaldinho on TV, I saw the extraordinary game of Pepe against Juventus or that of Chiellini against Cagliari, or I get the shivers when I talk about the performance of Nesta against Barcelona years ago... But you can't think about organizations without the right players.
High profile players
It definitely changes, also because the higher you go, the faster you learn football. Going down a level, it takes longer to teach things. I've been lucky enough to coach players like Ibrahimovic, CR7, Ronaldinho, Tevez, Chiellini, etc and with them, it's easier to make yourself understood. The fundamental thing with them is respect: give it to them and make them give it to you.
Porto better than Juventus
I do know that we have to go back to the basics of football. Not all passes are the same. Today everyone has to build up from the back, but you have to understand the right moments of the game when you can do it and when you can't. You have to take care of the technical quality aspect and then the defenders have to defend, the goalkeepers have to save and the forwards have to score. I used to tell Buffon and my defenders that they shouldn't be ashamed to kick the ball away every now and then when necessary.
The Coppa Italia semi-final return leg in Naples, we had to defend the draw. I put Alves into a five-man backline and told him we had to take the game to the end. After 4 minutes he came up to me and said 'Coach, let me do it, I'm going to man-mark Insigne because he's the only one who can really trouble us' and he was right! I've learned a lot from experienced players. In fact afterward, when we played Barcelona, he went man-to-man on Neymar and played an extraordinary game. The great champions want to play man-to-man, they are less interested in other things.
Football in general
Football is a team game, but to make it really a team game you need all the players to know how to pass the ball well. Look at Xavi and Iniesta's Barcelona: the ball traveled fast.
Not everything is positive
We have to learn to see the positive things too: today in Turin Benevento, after bad games like the one against Fiorentina, they prepared the match very well, Pippo Inzaghi did a good job, and had an important performance to beat Juve.
Finding the right players
Today there is wealth and the ability to take players from anywhere thanks to TV rights, you have to understand which players are the best technically. And we need to train youngsters by having them play from the Under-15s in Serie D. It's already a good thing that Juve Under 23 are playing in Serie C.
Difference between Milan and Juventus
Berlusconi was a showman, Juve represents the most important family in Italy. Milan had to put on a show, Juve had to win through sacrifice. The DNA is different. Just as abroad Real Madrid and Barcelona are two totally different clubs, or Manchester United and City. Knowing the DNA of the club and knowing where you are going to coach is fundamental.
He can make technical mistakes in his stops and plays, but what makes the difference and has allowed him to win all the Champions Leagues and Ballon d'Or awards he has won is his deadly way of thinking. Of course, those who play alongside him have to understand which spaces to occupy. To make CR7 perform at its best you have to find the best conditions. Compared to Messi? One is the strongest, the other the greatest..."
We went to Florence to play freely by the fact that Higuain would score and we'd win. I was on the bench and I saw that the team was playing badly. Sometimes it happens that you win when you play badly, and there's nothing wrong with that and it's fine anyway, and you pretend nothing happened. To make the players responsible, however, I decided to throw in both Pipita, Dybala, and Mandzukic. But even here, how can I explain how to be a coach: I was there and from playing with 3-5-2 and Sturaro as a halfback to playing with 4-2-3-1 and Mandzukic on the left wing with Cuadrado on the right, it was like opening a window and finding air.
Throwing away my jacket against Carpi
It was the last game before Christmas, and I used to tell the boys before every holiday not to ruin them for me. That time I subbed on Lichtsteiner in and at the end he made a reverse stop inside the box and almost allowed them to score, they hit the crossbar. That's when the jacket went off. After the game, I was pissed off for two hours in the locker room for having almost thrown away a game we had already won before the holidays.
Playing for Juventus
When we played against Frosinone in 2015, in the middle of stoppage time Dybala tried to dribble to score the double, we lost the ball and at the other end they equalized. The ball at Juve, Milan, or Inter weighs differently, you don't always have to look for the goal: you have to bring home the victory. However, San Siro is much heavier than the Allianz Stadium: when I arrived at AC Milan I was convinced that some of the good players from my Cagliari team could do well in the Rossoneri. But then I soon realized that something else was needed: football isn't just about scoring, but you have to have players with personality who know how to win games.
Being a leader
A leader is someone who brings solutions to problems and does not bring problems. A coach must serve the players, or rather their characteristics. The best coach is the one who loses the fewest games, while the games are won by great players. Every year that I have coached I have never coached in the same way. Each year was different depending on the players I had.