I’ve read many reconstructions about Antonio Conte’s sudden departure from Juventus. I think the most accurate and plausible one has been written by G.B. Olivero, a Gazzetta Dello Sport journalist who has been always rumoured to be close to the former (sigh) Juventus coach. He posted it on Facebook:
“After three days the most important question still stands. […] Usually football burns quickly its emotions. In the end, Juventus replaced the coach of the records with a coach that still has some records: he’s the only one in Europe to have lost a title with Ibrahimovic on the roster and is by far the most contested one at the day of the unveiling. No juventino wanted Allegri, so the situation can only improve. After all, Juventus fans should have a little fondness for him: without him, Pirlo would have stayed at Milan. But that’s not what matters because this time football didn’t burn anything quickly. The starting question stands: why did Conte leave?
[…] I’ve read creative reconstructions, as if Dan Brown wrote them: there is who says that the transfer market was decisive and others that say that it didn’t have any influence. They brought up some contacts with other teams. I don’t claim to know exactly how things went, but I’ve an idea about it. And I think it’s not distant from reality at all.
Conte was worn out by his juventinità, who made him feel badly about many situations that he could have handled with more sagacity. Antonio is not diplomatic, but he’s a winner. He wants more: he wants to win with Juventus (he’ll surely return sooner or later). He has two ambitions: being the best in the world and being it on Juventus bench. A year ago, he realized that the two things, at least for now, can’t coincide. He goes twice as fast as the management, and not because Juventus’ structure is humongous. Simply because he thinks and acts differently. One of the first things that he asked loudly a year ago was to be more involved in the managerial decisions (not only the transfer market). In italy we always say that replicating a Ferguson is impossible. Of course: we don’t want a figure like that. Marotta is expert, he knows how to do his job and especially (it must never be forgotten, Conte did it instead) he doesn’t decide the budget. But Antonio wanted to have more weight in certain decisions.
In May, Conte decided to leave because he didn’t see solutions or room for improvement. Sure, Juventus could have chased the fourth Scudetto in a row by scraping along, trying to win it almost out of inertia: that’s what the management asked him proposing a transfer market campaign completely different from what the coach designed. Conte wanted to overhaul the roster: too complicated with the current economic situation. Then he asked to invest everything on one player: Cuadrado. And instead he found three advanced negotiations on Evra, Iturbe and Morata. He didn’t agree.
But that’s not enough to explain the resounding ending. So we return to the starting point: Conte’s juventinità. In another club, he probably would have been a little less involved. Antonio didn’t feel he was part of the project because he didn’t share it anymore. To tell the truth, Agnelli and Marotta have always been honest with him. They never pictured a different reality, besides when the president told him that after the third year they would invest on the transfer market. A lie. Besides that, Conte is a dreamer but he really wants to live his dreams. And for his Juventus he had dreams that were more ambitious than the ones of the executives that, because of their role, have to be down-to-heart. Watch out: I’m not saying that the coach was right, because in a moment like this you can’t avoid considering the economic needs of the club. But he agreed to stand up for it if everybody did it. He couldn’t pretend to believe in something he was no longer passionate of, that didn’t warm him. Too much respect for Juventus and too much personal ambition: a transitional year (even though with a Scudetto-worthy roster) or “let’s see what happens” doesn’t belong to his mentality. He would have lived with that provided that they built a young and ambitious team to nurture for a couple of years before the European explosion.
Conte worn out himself before his players. The difference is that after the vacations the players usually feel better, while Conte doesn’t want to feel better: he wants to have a goal, wake up in the morning with a target in mind. Now he didn’t have one. And the continuous showing off of the excellent relationships with Agnelli and Marotta sound suspicious: Antonio felt betrayed because in these three years he gave Juventus more than what he received. According to the coach, it was the moment to have back: not money, not the renewal, but something deeper and more juventino. Targeting victory in Europe. It’s not sure that Conte’s reasoning is correct. Logically, Juventus and the other Italian teams have very little chances of winning Champions League. And with an healthy management of the group, maybe even with the departure on an elite player, Juventus could have aimed at the fourth Scudetto. But it would have been a conservative choice. Conte is a reformist: on the pitch and not only there.
It’s without answer the last why: why didn’t he leave in Many? Even before few days before the retreat he was still pondering. The management underestimated his disquiet, convinced that returning to work would have rectified it. Instead, it increased the problem. And the sudden unfold of the situation shows that the transfer market had a role: not only for the names, but also for the project of the overhaul.
With this story Juventus zeroed their advantage on the competition. They are on the same level, if not a little behind, of Roma and Napoli. The third place would be a good result, even though the starting grid will be decided only after the end of the transfer market. There are a couple of final considerations:
– Everybody made mistakes. In the timetable (if he wanted to leave, Conte should have gone in May), in the modes (Conte’s interview worthy of a dictatorship to JTV and the Agnelli’s letter weren’t successful), in the substance (the team is weakened and the fan base is wounded but also swindled because everything happened once the season ticket campaign was over). And only Juventus pay the price.
– Conte is an absolute ace. It will be more blatant next season.”