The news of Antonio Conte leaving his post as Juventus manager sent shockwaves through Italian football on Tuesday night. Conte led the Bianconeri to three successive Scudettos and gained a record points total last season that eclipsed not only Serie A records but those of all the other top European leagues. His time in charge of the club was an unheralded success and his reign was expected to continue long into the future.
Now, Juventus must try to somehow build on Conte’s success and have moved quickly to replace him with former AC Milan manager, Massimiliano Allegri. This appointment seems to have caused some surprise in Italian football circles after a tumultuous time in Milan.
Allegri did lead the Rossoneri to Serie A glory in his first season (2010/11) but endured limited success thereafter, with his team constantly in the shadow of Conte’s Juventus, finishing 2nd and then 3rd in the following two seasons.
In January 2012, Allegri agreed a contract extension to the end of the 2013/14 season, but just two years later he and his coaching staff were removed from their posts with just under half the season remaining. This occurred when his side were a humongous 30 points adrift of the club where he now takes charge.
Of course there is a big question as to why Conte has resigned, and the Sun are reporting today that it is due to Manchester United’s pursuit of Arturo Vidal and his possible departure from the club. Now, as many have pointed out, if managers were to leave their posts due to their best players being sold then Arsene Wenger would be long gone from the Premier League.
What seems to be a lot more likely is that Conte has his eyes on the Italian national team job, which was recently vacated by fellow countryman Cesare Prandelli after a severely disappointing World Cup campaign.
Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri tweeted in the aftermath of Conte’s departure that “Conte resigning is a precise claim: this Juventus can’t even get close to compete for Champions League”.
Palmeri, a respected journalist with an in-depth knowledge of Italian football and it’s goings-on, is certain we will see Conte as the next Italy manager. He has also hit the nail on the head with this tweet. Conte has achieved amazing success in a relatively short period with the Old Lady of Italian football.
However, last season’s Europa League semi-final defeat to Benfica can only have left a sour taste for the man who himself had a glittering career for Juventus, which included top European honours.
After winning three league titles as manager, it seems clear that Conte doesn’t believe he can take this Juventus side any further, and there is no doubt the possible sale of key players like Vidal and Paul Pogba has added fuel to this fire.
While it is a stretch to believe a tabloid’s claims that one potential sale caused Conte to resign, player departures are definitely a factor alongside key motivators such as Conte’s personal beliefs regarding Juve’s ability to succeed in Europe and his ambitions to lead his national team.
It does seem certain that the managerial situation at Juventus will have a big impact on transfers both outwards and inwards. Sky Italy reported that Patrice Evra requested his move to the Italian champions be stalled while the situation was sorted out.
There is also the school of thought that players will be more willing to leave the club now that the manager who led them to silverware every season has been replaced by a questionable heir.
Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba are two of the best and most talked about midfielders in Europe. Both Manchester United and Chelsea fans will be hoping that these two players can make smooth transitions to their respective clubs now that Antonio Conte is no longer the man in charge at Juventus.
Colm Hayes, Pundit Arena.