LNTUP

Massimiliano Allegri Becoming one of the greats

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It was the scene from just 3 years back when Juventus fans threw eggs at Massimiliano Allegri when he showed up for his first day as manager of the Bianconeri! Eleven months later, hundreds waited outside Turin Airport to welcome him home with applause.

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In truth, the criticism of Allegri was always unfair. The former squadra azzura midfielder has been successful in most of his managerial spells.

At 40-year-old he was appointed at Sassuolo in August 2007, and guided the club from the Emilia-Romagna level of northern Italy to Serie B for the first time in their history, an effort that was enough to take the reigns at Cagliari eight months later.

The club from Sardinia was tipped to be a contender for relegation that season, but Allegri managed to to finish 9th, especially after a dismal start to the campaign when the danger of getting axed was gaining prominence, a success that was enough for him to win the ‘Manager of the year’ ahead of a certain Jose Mourinho, a league winner with Inter that season.

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At AC Milan, Allegri did a good job overall: winning the San Siro side’s first Scudetto in seven years in 2011. But after that season, the Rossoneri hierarchy decided to sell big names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Clarence Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso to cut down the expenses amidst financial crisis. But Allegri still stood up to his task then managing to qualify for the Champions League in 2013, an achievement, the importance of which was understood only after sacking him.

At Juventus, to make the next step in their evolution, a run deep into Europe’s primary club competition was needed, and Allegri led them to UEFA Champions League final in 2015, being defeated by a legendary FC Barcelona side led by its mercurial Latin trident-the much fabled ‘MSN’. It was however considered a giant leap to the development of the club back to becoming one of the top 5 clubs in Europe, a feat that the group of egg-throwers would not have believed, probably!

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Speaking about tactics, he is at once a pragmatist but also ferociously adamant, because he has always been willing to change things up according to what’s working. This season alone he has changed between a 4-4-2, a 3-5-2 and lately a 4-2-3-1 according to the demands of the situation and the type of players he possesed.

“Everyone likes to play the professor, to talk about tactics and schemes, but the truth is that nothing new has been invented in football since 1992,” Allegri told Italian GQ. “Not since they abolished the backpass. Everything else is just rubbish.”

Few coaches can rival Allegri’s tactical grasp of the game. His subtle shifts and substitutions make huge impacts when they are most needed.

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Former Les Blues captain and UCL winner Patrice Evra once commemorated,”In Italy it’s purely tactical……I still remember it was a match against Dortmund. I noticed as the match kept unfolding that they are making mistakes exactly what Allegri told, it was as if I was watching a live video of a story that I have already heard!”.

“From that day onwards I started to see him differently…”, he added, a compliment from a person who has played under arguably the greatest manager of all time.

In Seria A, Juventus has an 8 point lead with six game to go, but the big challenge is in Europe where they will meet AS Monaco, led by an in-form Kylian Mbappe and a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao.

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Having the oportunity to feature in a second Champions League final in three years, Allegri and Juventus are standing on an important juncture in their career and history respectively. The ‘Old ladies’ have had a not so bright affair with European Cup or UEFA Champions League history, losing 6 out of 8 times, victories being tasted only twice-under Trapattoni and Lippi, two personalities who are immortalised among the Bianconeri faithful.

Will the former Livorno midfielder be able to repeat the golden hours for Juventus? Only time can tell but if the club from Turin makes it happen then Massimiliano Allegri’s place as one of the best managers in the world, will surely get established. Who knows we might be witnessing the journey of one of the greatest footballing minds ever!