Juventus replace Sarri with Pirlo

The Lyon debacle yielded an immediate shake-up at Juventus, as they relieved Maurizio Sarri of their duties on Saturday’s afternoon and promoted rookie Andrea Pirlo few hours later. The former midfielder, who was appointed as U-23 coach just ten days ago, agreed to a two-year contract.

Despite rarely looking dominant, Sarri conquered the ninth title in a row, but did not succeed in improving the quality of the play, as the management hoped he would when they made the switch last summer, moving on from Massimiliano Allegri. On top of that, Sarri often seemed foreign compared to the usual style of the club and reportedly butted heads with some players behind the scenes and it was pretty manifest that they never fully bought in on his philosophy. That did not prevent Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala from having excellent campaings with him at the helm. 

The widespread rumours indicate that the front office inquired about Mauricio Pochettino, Zinedine Zidane, Simone Inzaghi and Roberto Mancini, but could not meet the former Spurs coach’s demands and deemed it too complicated to free the others from their current contracts. They hence opted for the easiest solution, despite it being a major gamble given his lack of experience.

Chairman Andrea Agnelli, who handpicked the new gaffer, has long been fascinated by Zidane and Pep Guardiola, who begun their coaching careers in Real Madrid and Barcelona’s second-teams and elected to fast-track his own version of that. Unless he gets another job, Sarri will remain on the books for two more seasons and the economic element might have been a factor, since Pirlo was the cheapest candidate.

The 41-year-old Pirlo played for four years with the Old Lady, winning four domestic titles, one Coppa Italia and two Supercups. Throughout his illustrious career, mostly spent at Brescia, Inter and Milan before moving to Turin and finishing it up with New York City FC, he was coached by the best Italian managers such as Carlo Ancelotti, Marcello Lippi, Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri, whom he indicated as his models in his recent introductory presser. On that occasion, Agnelli stated: “We hope one day in the future to find him on the first team, but we will take it one step at the time. He needs to earn it.” The Madama put him under contract while he was a TV pundit to allow him to get the required coaching license. Pirlo did not elaborate on his tactical beliefs, but the roster does not offer much flexibility to move away from 4-3-3.

Chief football officer Fabio Paratici, who will stay put despite some rumours, commented: “We evaluated the whole season, which was very challenging, the faith of the coach was not decided by a single game. Picking Pirlo was a very natural decision, very juventina, as we have always been in touch with him, he is already familiar with the team and we are convinced he can one of a kind on the bench like he was as a player. He wants a quality team that plays a certain type of football. It will be a very European-looking Juventus. We listened to him and he was very convincing. Behind the professional, who can be groomed, the people behind it is more important.”

Pirlo has no previous experience, but Juventus will still have a former head coach on the bench as he picked Igor Tudor as he lead assistant, who was freed up from Hajduk Split, where he landed after his up-and-down three year stint at Udinese. He previously helmed also PAOK and Galatasaray. Pirlo will be aided by his former teammate Roberto Baronio, who led a pair of Italy’s youth teams and then Brescia and Napoli’s primavera squads, while assistant Antonio Gagliardi joined from the FIGC ranks. Claudio Filippi will stay on as goalkeeping coach, while the head athletic trainer will be Paolo Bertelli, who was at Juventus during Antonio Conte’s three-year spell.

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