Following the disaster that was last season it was clear that a revolution of sorts was required and this took place from the top down. The former Sampdoria trio of Gigi Delneri (head coach), Beppe Marotta (Director General) and Fabio Paratici (Sporting Director) overseen by the newly appointed president Andrea Agnelli make up the new hierarchy of the club. This revolution continued with the exodus of quite a few players. Among the players to leave there is no doubt that there was a certain amount of what could best be described as dead wood e.g. Fabio Cannavaro, Jonathan Zebina and Mauro Camoranesi.
However, now that the transfer deadline has been reached one would have to question the sale of the likes of Diego, David Trezeguet and Domenico Criscito without adequate replacements. Many fans have also expressed their discontent with the decision to loan Sebastian Giovinco to Parma but the fact remains he is now 23 years old and for whatever reasons has so far failed to prove himself at Juventus and a loan move was the best option for his career.
So where does this leave Juventus for the 2010/2011 season? Gigi Delneri is a staunch advocate of the 4-4-2 system that he first came to prominence with as manager of the ‘Flying Donkeys’ Chievo Verona and has also had recent success with a 4th place finish for Sampdoria last season. Following recent disappointments it is clear that it’s a case of back to basics for Juventus and Delneri will be hoping that his ideas and ethos can bring a solidity to the Bianconeri,a trait that was clearly missing last season. To preview the current squad of players at Delneri’s disposal I am going to break it down by position.
Gigi Buffon’s long term injury is not ideal but Marco Storari should prove a capable stand in and there is always Alex Manninger to fall back on. At right back Marco Motta has showed great promise as an attacking full back but there is definitely room for improvement from a defensive point of view. Playing alongside his fellow Italian internationals Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini I have no doubt he will improve.
The new centre half partnership of Chiellini and Bonucci will be very much a case of a work in progress but in time they will form a solid partnersip. Left back is a problem area for Juventus as Paolo De Ceglie is clearly a defensive liability. Armand Traore was signed on deadline day in a loan deal from Arsenal but like De Ceglie I have my doubts about his defensive capabilities. He was 3rd choice left back at Arsenal and when on loan with Portsmouth was often played in a left wing position. For these reasons I feel that the decision to sell Criscito to Genoa may have been a rash one. The other defensive squad players will be Grygera, Leggrotaglie and the newly acquired centre half Rinaudo from Napoli.
This was the area of the pitch that neither Ciro Ferrara nor Alberto Zaccheroni could get right last season. There were too many destroyers in midfield and Marotta realised this which led to the release of Poulsen to Liverpool. Many fans would have hoped they had seen the back of Felipe Melo but the fact remains he will be at Juve and judging on recent performances it seems there is hope that his attitude and performances may improve this season. Momo Sissoko will also be hoping to improve on last seasons performances and lose the naivety and poor discipline that he so often showed last year. Alongside Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio is considered one of the symbols of the new Juventus and after a dissapointing World Cup and pre-season he will be hoping to get back to the heights he reached in previous years.
The Ace in Juve’s midfield pack this year could be Alberto Aquilani. If he manages to stay fit he could well be the Bianconeri’s most important acquisition this summer. His passing ability and calmness in possession were exactly what the midfield has lacked in recent times.
An area of particular interest for Juventus this year will be out wide. Del Neri’s trademark 4-4-2 system led to the majority of Juve’s summer acquisitions being wide players; Krasic, Lanzafame, Pepe and Martinez. The Krasic transfer saga lasted all summer long but he finally put pen to paper for an outlay of €15m and he arrives to Juve with a high level of expectation. Martinez also arrived with a hefty price-tag (€12m) and a disappointing pre-season compounded by his injury against Bari at the weekend means he has had a less than ideal start to his Juve career. Once he returns from injury Juve fans will be hoping he can put his disappointing start behind him and reproduce his form he showed with Catania last year.
Another of the wingers Juve have acquired is Pepe who despite showing a lot of graft in his performances does not look to possess the technical qualities required of a top level winger. Lanzafame on the other hand looks to be a very talented winger while lacking tactical discipline, an area Delneri will no doubt have him work on.
There are still many question marks hanging over the Juve attack heading into this years campaign. Amauri, Juve’s only real prima punta is currently injured and with Trezeguet and Diego leaving for pastures new it is an area of concern. The forever young Alessandro Del Piero will prove to be a very important squad player but cannot be relied on to play every game. Vincenzo Iaquinta also starts the season injured so Delneri will be hoping he can return to fitness as soon as possible. The arrival of Fabio Quagliarella has raised many eyebrows and there will be a lot of pressure on him to do well from the off.
With Diego leaving I do fear for a lack of that creative spark in the last third of the pitch. Delneri had used Diego in a seconda punta role in pre-season and in Europa league qualifiers and he looked to be forming a promising partnership with Amauri which makes the sale of the diminutive Brazilian questionable to say the least.The arrival of a bomber such as Pazzini may have appeased many fans but the fact is he hasn’t arrived and Delneri has to work with a front four of Amauri, Del Piero, Quagliarella and Iaquinta. The upcoming international break may be a blessing in disguise as it means Juve may only have to play one more league game without a prima punta (i.e. Amauri who was ruled out for 25 days last week) When he returns all Juventus fans will be hoping he can repeat the form he achieved under Delneri at Chievo Verona.
To conclude, it’s been a summer of many comings and goings at la Vecchia Signora and following a disappointing start to the Serie A campaign with defeat to Bari it is easy to feel pessimistic about the season ahead. Many fans (myself included) have questioned some of the decisions made during the transfer window, but real judgement can only come once the season is well and truly underway. Until then one can only hope that the likes of Bonucci, Aquilani, Krasic, Quagliarella et al can make the difference and help the club in achieving the primary goal this season which is Champions League qualification.