As told in Conte’s book “Testa, Cuore e Gambe”, c0 written with Antonio Di Rosa published by Rizzoli.
I started reading Conte’s autobiography last week, and wanted to share with you, some of the highlights from the chapters on Juve as I suspect it will never be translated into English. This is not a word for word translation of any of the passages, but rather a review of each chapter with some of my personal thoughts.
Part 1- Arriving at Juve as a player http://www.juvefc.com/blog/?p=2358
Part 2- Lippi’s First Term at Juve http://www.juvefc.com/blog/?p=2369
Part 3- Ancelotti and Lippi’s return http://www.juvefc.com/blog/?p=2379
Part 4- Retiring from Juve and almost playing for Zeman http://www.juvefc.com/blog/?p=2390
Part 5- Becoming a great coach http://www.juvefc.com/blog/?p=2408
Part 6- Secco, Diego and Blanc http://www.juvefc.com/blog/?p=2421
After coming close to joining Juve after the Ranieri years, Conte finds himself jobless and still dreaming of returning to his former club. Prior to getting a job interview with Andrea Agnelli, Conte would have to go through 4 tumoultous months at Atalanta and a succesful season at Siena.
At the beginning of 2009-10 season, Conte finds himself without a team. He had previously turned down an offer from Atalanta since he believed he was going to be Bari’s coach in Serie A, but that did not go according to plan- Conte mentioned that was a very important lesson for him (which explains why he has never fully committed to being Juve’s Ferguson in interviews). Ironically after Atalanta lost to Bari 4-1, they called him asking him to take over for coach Gregucci (who had replaced Del Neri who had accepted the Sampdoria job where he would work with Marotta). Conte agrees as long as he is given full control of the team as well as just a 1 year deal, this would give him the freedom to leave the following summer (this has been a constant in Conte’s career, and I believe we will continue to see this in his relationship with Juve).
Conte is hired and he brings along his athletic coach Ventrone, the team gets off to a strong start with 9 points in first 5 games. The honeymoon abruptly ends when Conte subs fan idol Doni against Siena (which ironically would be Conte’s next team) and the two have a blow up in the locker room. The president of the club clearly sides with the player, which really upsets Conte (remember he was furious when Secco let Diego dictate Juve’s formation). Things settle down temporarily until a bad loss against Napoli (ironically Quagliarella and Pazienza, who would both be on Conte’s first Juve, scored the winning goals) the fans, still upset over the Doni incident, want a meeting with Conte which he accepts. He is called “gobbo di merda” and “stronzo Juventino” by the ultras because of his past at Juve (which would be a great omen for Conte’s future)- the argument is so bad that Conte decides to resign, by doing so he forfeits the rest of his salary for the season.
Conte takes the coaching job at Siena, which was offered once again from his friend Perinetti. Conte develops strong ties to the city and he gets them right back to Serie A while having the best offense and defense. In the meantime, Juve continues to struggle, the ultras disappointed in Del Neri, even start chanting Conte’s name during games. The club is linked to Villa Boas, Mazzarri, Spalletti and Hiddink which worries Conte since they are all more established coaches than he is. His friend Silvio Baldini (former Empoli coach) suggests he finds a way to speak to Andrea Agnelli, since Baldini believes the two of them would be able to form an immediate connection. Conte reaches out to an unnamed (in the book) friend who knows Andrea Agnelli well, he is told he believes Juve will keep Del Neri but that he would set up the meeting anyway.
The meeting happens at Andrea Agnelli’s house. Conte decides to wear jeans instead of a more formal suit, and he takes it as a great sign that Andrea Agnelli decided to do the same (Conte described seeing a much younger Andrea Agnelli at Juve’s training ground with his father Umberto when he was still playing for Juve in the Ancelotti chapter). Conte is immediately impressed at how well Andrea Agnelli’s daughter speaks English (Agnelli’s wife is English), and once again tells himself he needs to learn the language (remember the Van Gaal episode ?).
At first, Conte believes the meeting will not lead to a job offer as Agnelli asks him if he would take some of Juve’s players to his current club Siena (I would imagine he was referring to Motta, Lanzafame, Ekdal types). But Agnelli starts being more engaged once Conte tells him the current Juve is playing like a “provinciale” and that opponents no longer fear facing the Old Lady. Conte tells him that when he was a player at Lecce, he remembered being scared when playing against Juve and that is missing to today’s club. Conte stresses that Juve players must have pride in wearing the club’s jersey and that for Juve to return to prominence they need to empower and relaunch the old guard (I found this ironic considering what happened to Del Piero). Conte tells Agnelli that if he gives him the job, he will make sure Juve attacks and defends as a team the way Barcelona does, and that the players will have hunger to win games. Agnelli is very impressed and tells him, Conte will have to meet with Marotta to go further in the process.
Conte leaves the meeting hopeful, but after what happened with Secco, he vows to not get excited until he signs the contract. Marotta’s call never comes (maybe this is why he can’t land top strikers?) and Juve gives Del Neri another chance until a tough loss against Parma. Conte finally meets with Marotta and Paratici and he is optimistic despite fact he thinks Villa Boas is the front runner. Juve would not hire Villa Boas because they weren’t willing to pay his exit clause (I bet this is why Juve is supposedly looking to add one in Conte’s next contract and why Conte doesn’t want one) and Marotta eventually called Conte to offer him the job he had always dreamed of. Siena graciously agrees to let Conte go without any compensation (he had one year left on the deal with them) and Conte signs a two year deal with Juve. Rather than being given formal bonuses Conte asks that Andrea Agnelli be the one to decide the bonus at end of the season. After signing the contract with Juve, Conte decides to go pet the Champions League cup he won as player 17 years ago to the day I am writing this article.
Next- Winning the first of hopefully many scudetti at Juve