Replaces Conte and has history with Pirlo
17 July ~ Antonio Conte's resignation as Juventus coach on July 15 may have been sudden but it wasn't unexpected. In May, after winning the third consecutive league title with a record number of points and concluding the club's most successful domestic run since 1930s, Conte turned down a contract extension. He made it clear that he'd agree to stay for another year on condition of having a transfer budget that would make Juve competitive in the Champions League; having lifted the trophy as a player with Juventus in 1996, it's also well known that one of Conte's main ambitions is to win it as a manager.
What he had in mind was a dramatic upheaval of the current squad, including signing full-backs to switch to a four-defender formation and, crucially, a new star striker. The names that were mentioned almost immediately were Luis Suàrez, Alexis Sánchez and Mario Mandzukic. Seeing all the targets leaving, for respectively Barcelona, Arsenal and Atlético Madrid, without Juventus getting close to making an offer for any of them may have made up Conte's mind (the only agreement the club reached in the past six weeks was to sign Patrice Evra).
The Juventus board acted quickly – perhaps simply returning to the same candidates they considered during the May talks with Conte – and the next morning appointed Massimiliano Allegri, recently with AC Milan. Allegri had a controversial time with his previous squad, winning the title in 2010-11 but then increasingly underachieving until finally being sacked this January.
Both this recent failure and his old conflict with Andrea Pirlo (the latter joined Juve from Milan in 2011 as a free agent after Allegri had dropped him) has led to the new appointment being widely criticised by his new club's fans. Over 90 per cent of the voters on the Tuttosport website were against the new manager while the hashtag #NoAllegri trended on Twitter. In addition, a group of about 50 fans protested outside Juventus Stadium, where Allegri's official presentation was held yesterday afternoon.
Allegri himself announced he'd win the supporters "with respect, results and hard work", and assured that he is fortunate to have Pirlo in the team. At the same press conference, the sporting director Giuseppe Marotta insisted that the tension with Conte had nothing to do with the transfer market and emphasised that Allegri was chosen because, like his predecessor, he is "a winning manager", reminding everyone of the successes of his early career up to the title won with AC Milan.
Meanwhile, Conte is now believed to be one of the favourites, if not the number one choice, for the candidacy of the new head coach of the Italian national team. The final decision, however, will be taken no earlier than in August, after the new head of the Italian federation takes the post. Daria Andreeva