Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

Massimiliano Allegri: I leave a team capable of winning the Champions League trophy

Despite winning a fifth successive Serie A title with Juventus this season, it was no surprise when the club announced on Friday Allegri would leave after this season

Massimiliano Allegri has guided Juventus to five consecutive Serie A titles but will leave the club at the end of the 2018/19 season. Reuters
Massimiliano Allegri has guided Juventus to five consecutive Serie A titles but will leave the club at the end of the 2018/19 season. Reuters

Massimiliano Allegri feels he will leave Juventus with the potential to go on and win the Champions League after it was announced he would step down as manager at the end of the season.

The 51-year-old Italian has been in charge of the Turin club since joining from fellow Serie A heavyweights AC Milan in 2014, and won the league title in each of his five seasons in charge.

However, hopes of European success this year were ended by quarter-final defeat against Ajax, while Juve had also lost the 2017 Champions League final against Real Madrid in Cardiff.

Allegri said at a press conference on Saturday: "I leave a winning team which has the potential to repeat its achievements in Italy and have another great Champions League campaign. Unfortunately, some situations meant we couldn't go all the way [during my time]."

Allegri was presented with a commemorative shirt by Juventus president Andrea Agnelli which had on the back "History alone" above the number five.

Juventus players were also present at the Allianz Stadium for what was an emotional occasion, Agnelli haven given a moving speech in tribute to the out-going manager.

"We talked, expressed our ideas on what was best for Juventus and the future of Juventus. After that, the club evaluated it and decided it was best that I wouldn't be the coach of Juventus next season," said Allegri, whose contract had been running through to June 2020.

"I leave behind a solid group with extraordinary players, both technically and as men, because you need good men to win as well as good footballers."

Allegri has always said that winning major titles should never be underestimated, yet there was something strangely unsatisfying about this season's campaign.

There were none of the thrilling displays served up by teams such as Manchester City or Ajax, nor the raw passion of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

Instead, Juve relied on their resilience, flexibility, moments of individual brilliance from five-time World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo and even, sometimes, just a lucky break.

It was enough to win them another Italian title - their eighth in a row altogether including Allegri's five - but not enough to bring them the Champions League, which was seen as the priority after defeats in the 2015 and 2017 finals.

They also failed to win the Coppa Italia this season - Juve were eliminated by eventual losing finalists Atalant in the quarter-finals - after Allegri last term became the first manager in Europe's top five leagues to win four consecutive doubles.

Following Friday's announcement that Allegri would step down following Sunday's game against Atalanta, Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that another reason for his departure was that Allegri also wanted more control over the club's transfer policy.

Juventus splurged more than €250 million (more than Dh1 billion) in the transfer market last summer, yet more of that went on their reserve goalkeeper, Mattia Perin, than improving the midfield.

In attack, Ronaldo cost €117 million and winger Douglas Costa another €40 million, while at the back €40 million went on right-back Joao Cancelo and €35 million on bringing back central defender Leonardo Bonucci from AC Milan.

But the midfield was not strengthened, and it showed on the pitch with too much sterile possession.

When Allegri took over five years ago, his midfield included Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba.

Today, it is still an impressive lineup - Miralem Pjanic, Rodrigo Bentancur, Emre Can and Blaise Matuidi have all played for their countries. But it is not quite enough for a team with Champions League title ambitions.

Critics said that Allegri was also partly to blame, as his constant chopping and changing may have prevented the players from developing a true understanding.

Updated: May 18, 2019 05:05 PM

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