x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Serie A: Juventus is winning but they are still working on their reputation

It wasn't too long ago when Juventus was relegated to Serie B because of their part in manipulating match officials so the team's reputation will always be under a microscope, writes Ian Hawkey.

Juventus head coach Antonio Conte, left, talks with a referee assistant after half time during the Italian Serie A match against Bologna on Saturday. Cezaro De Luca / AFP
Juventus head coach Antonio Conte, left, talks with a referee assistant after half time during the Italian Serie A match against Bologna on Saturday. Cezaro De Luca / AFP

Two-nil up, with only seconds left to play of the match at Bologna, Antonio Conte, the Juventus head coach, might normally have been expected to be looking at his watch. Or maybe biting his nails.

Instead, he turned away from events on the pitch to wave his arms upwards like an orchestra conductor, facing the crowd and urging travelling supporters to up the noise, mouthing the words to them: "Here we go!"

The whole display offended the losing coach, Stefano Pioli, who accused Conte of "showing disrespect" with his touchline theatre.

If that seemed a little thin-skinned of Pioli, whose annoyance probably owed as much to having seen a three-match winning run come to an end, Conte would do well to reflect quietly on the importance of the impression his Juventus make on the rest of a Serie A they look very likely to be crowned champions of for the second season in succession.

Juve's resurgence as the predominant club in Italian football, as the club's PR department like to remind, marks the beginning of a new era.

The post-calciopoli Juve are a distinct creature from the Juventus who were relegated to Serie B in 2006 because of their part in manipulating match officials. They needed to regain respect as an institution, at home and abroad.

Some of the football they have played under Conte has helped do that. But any behaviour that seems arrogant, or snooty towards other clubs, will quickly reinforce aspects of the bad image Juventus acquired seven years ago.

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