Soccer

Problems facing Pirlo: Rookie in one of Europe's top jobs at Juventus

Rookie boss Andrea Pirlo has walked into one of Europe’s top jobs at Juventus, but he will have little say over transfers, a leaky defence, tactics to sort and big names DESPERATE for him to fail

  • Former Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo has been appointed as club’s new boss 
  • The club was heavily linked with both Zinedine Zidane and Mauricio Pochettino
  • The 41-year-old has many issues to solve and quickly at the Italian giants
  • Here, Sportsmail looks at the 10 problems facing Pirlo as he embarks on new role

Former Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo was announced as the club’s new boss just hours after Maurizio Sarri was dismissed in a shock move by the Italian giants.  

Juve were heavily linked with both Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino but instead opted for Pirlo just nine days after appointing him as coach of the Under 23 side.  

The 41-year-old has many issues to solve and quickly at the club. Here, Sportsmail looks at the 10 problems facing Pirlo that risk compromising his path as a good club manager.

Former Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo was announced as the club’s new boss on Saturday

Pirlo will have a limited say on signings as every decision will be up to Juventus vice-president Pavel Nedved and sporting director Fabio Paratici. Unlike with Pochettino and Zidane, who would have imposed purchases and sales.

Pirlo will never have the last word on the name of a purchase or sale but will always have to turn to Nedved and Paratici who will help in the first months of acclimatization to the new role. 

Pirlo has suggested the names on his wishlist but the final decision will always be taken by the management and by the president Andrea Agnelli.

Decisions will be up to vice-president Pavel Nedved (R) and sporting director Fabio Paratici (L)

2. More firepower needed

Cristiano Ronaldo will not always be able to score 30 goals a year and Juventus want to buy a player capable of inheriting the No 9. In Turin, since the days of David Trezeguet, a true centre forward of 20-25 goals has been missing. The club is looking for a young striker with these characteristics in the transfer market. 

Without an out-and-out striker any tactical plan by Pirlo could be wiped out. Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik is a concrete option given the strained relationship with his club and with boss Gennaro Gattuso, but president Aurelio De Laurentiis continues to demand around €40million to sell it to their rivals. The dream for Juventus would be to sign Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata.

Juventus cannot be too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo and need to find an out-and-out striker

3. Huge challenge for a rookie

Andrea Pirlo will be forced to face the huge challenge of managing Juventus without much experience.

At least initially, the help of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will be fundamental and will have to make sure that the new boss Andrea is the protagonist in the eyes of all the other players. 

Pirlo could be forced to look for an authoritarian style to be heard by everyone: only time will tell if Agnelli has won or lost his bet by promoting Pirlo as coach of the first team in place of Sarri. The staff supporting Pirlo will be very young and the main assistant will be Simone Barone, former Napoli youth coach.

Gianluigi Buffon (R), Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will help Pirlo in his new challenge

4. Inheriting an ageing side

Pirlo has inherited an old team from Sarri, the team with the highest average age in Serie A (29): Blaise Matuidi, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Gonzalo Higuain, Gianluigi Buffon and Sami Khedira are all over 33 years old. A very serious problem considering that many of these players have a key role at the club. 

Higuain, Khedira and Matuidi are not part of the club’s plan and will be forced to leave Turin. The Argentine striker learned the news of Sarri’s departure and knew that his Italian adventure ended with the sacking of his friend and longtime coach.

Pirlo has inherited an old team – defender Bonucci (above) and many others are over age of 33

5. New training methods needed

Juventus want a change in the training methods: the ways of Sarri and his staff disappointed Agnelli. In the last month the team struggled in the last minutes of the games, indicating low fitness levels.

In the defeat by Lyon in the Champions League the big difference emerged in the physical preparation of the two clubs despite the Frencnh outfit returning from five months of inactivity. 

The physical domination of Garcia’s team infuriated the president Agnelli and Nedved.

Juventus want a change in the methods, the ways of Sarri and his staff disappointed the club

6. Tactics to sort

Pirlo’s first problem will be working out the best tactics for his side. Among Sarri’s biggest problems was his stubbornness of using the 4-3-3 formation. 

He previously said: ‘I am for 4-3-3 and everyone is in attack. I like that the action starts from the defence and develops quickly.’

Will Pirlo use the same system or 4-3-1-2, 4-2-3-1 or even a mixture? Pirlo has a lot to consider in order to get the best out of the players at his disposal. 

Former midfield maestro Pirlo has a lot to consider in order to get the best out of the players

7. A leaky defence

Juventus constantly concedes goals: in Serie A for the first time the club won the Scudetto by conceding more than 30 goals, a negative record that did not please the hierarchy. 

Sarri’s defence conceded more than one goal per game. The last time Juventus did worse was with Luigi Delneri on the bench in the 2010-2011 season, conceding 42 goals in Serie A and finishing in seventh place. 

Pirlo’s task will be to minimise the defensive fears of a team that has forgotten how to defend.

Pirlo’s task will be to minimise the defensive fears of a team that has forgotten how to defend

8. Coping without Matthijs de Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt’s serious shoulder injury will force Pirlo to focus all his attention on Merih Demiral. 

The Dutch defender is having shoulder surgery and will be sidelined until November, meaning Demiral will likely step up. 

Being without arguably your best defender for the start of the season is less than ideal. 

Matthijs de Ligt’s serious shoulder injury will force Pirlo to focus his attention on Merih Demiral

9. Getting big names on board

Although Juventus won Serie A under Sarri, the former Chelsea boss lost them two trophies as they lost the Supercoppa Italiana to Lazio and Coppa Italia to Napoli and crashing out the Champions League will hurt.

Pirlo is a rookie manager and needs to win over a team full of experienced and talented stars.

Following their exit from Europe’s elite competition, Ronaldo promised to ‘come back stronger and more committed than ever’.

The Portugal international did not appear to always see eye-to-eye with Sarri and Pirlo will need to avoid a repeat and keep the big names on side.

Pirlo is a rookie manager and needs to win over a team full of experienced and talented stars

10. Very big names waiting for him to fail 

Zidane and Pochettino were heavily linked with the hotseat in Turin following Sarri’s sacking and so the pressure is on Pirlo.

‘Honestly, I would not have bet €1 on Pirlo becoming coach,’ former Juve striker Alessandro Del Piero told Sky.

‘It was a surprise for me too. I was already happy with him being the choice for the ‘Under 23 team, it was the right passage for him, but here, we went further, and so I wish him my good luck.

‘In general, the perception of former players who become coaches is changing.

‘Before there was a need for a long apprenticeship, instead in recent years we have seen Filippo and Simone Inzaghi, then Gattuso … Great champions who immediately started with great teams.

‘Andrea and the comparison with Zinedine Zidane? Is it not correct to do so, Zizou had coached B team and was Ancelotti’s deputy, but Pirlo has all the skills to do even greater things than Zidane.

‘He knows the environment, the players and the club, I think they have spoken very clearly.’

Zinedine Zidane (R) and Mauricio Pochettino (L) were heavily linked with the hotseat in Turin




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