Andrea Pirlo walked into his first ever managerial role last summer, taking on a Juventus side with enormous expectation.
That expectation was warranted after winning nine Serie A titles on the bounce, but that didn’t make the task any easier.
The reality however, is that the chasing pack have been growing ever-closer to challenging us for that title in recent years, and our spending had slowed.
The Coronavirus pandemic put a huge dent in many clubs matchday incomes, and where our transfer window was involved, we didn’t move to sign a single player for a straight fee. The majority of our signings were loan deals with an option/obligation to buy, while Arthur’s arrival was in fact a swap deal, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.
The manager then went into the job with little time to work with the team, with no pre-season, and admitted early on that he was using the first league matches as his pre-season, proceeding to use a different formation in successive matches, before eventually settling on an interchangeable 4-4-2 (which in my opinion ONLY worked when Cuadrado played at RB).
All three first-choice CBs (Chiellini, de Ligt, Bonucci) remained injured for long spells at the start of the season, which left us without a credible leader at the back. Fourth choice Demiral had to play alongside Danilo at CB on occasion, while the others came back n got injured again often which allowed little-to-no consistency at the back.
Pirlo couldn’t figure out his best CM pairing, due to many credible performances but very little consistency from any of his options. Arthur was heralded as first choice initially, before Rabiot took over, then Bentancur also. McKennie was also in there early on before Pirlo decided he was better on the right, cutting in to pack the midfield out (which worked well).
The inexperienced manager also had all the attackers missing at different points. Dybala never hit 100% all season after starting injured, then proceeded to suffer with Corona which affected him for a long time before getting other issues also. Morata started on fire, but then he was diagnosed with some other really bad illness which I couldn’t name (could find it easy enough), and it took him a long time to get close to being fit too. Dejan Kulusevski was used as a makeshift attacker which took time to come good, but as proven in the Coppa Italia final, was a useful option.
I’m not saying other teams didn’t have issues, but this was hardly a walk in the park for a manager with no experience, and when you consider that all of his rival managers had at least spent an extra year to work with their players, I feel that Pirlo has definitely been given a tough ride this term.
Can we back Pirlo next season if the hierarchy allow him to do so?