The rise of the Old Lady?

If you listen closely you can hear the noise coming out of Turin as the ‘Old Lady’, the third oldest club and most successful club in Serie A history, are seemingly starting to rise once again.  Juventus, the 27 time Italian champions, are the symbol of Italian footballing culture but haven’t lived up to their billing of late since the match fixing scandel rocked the club. But you may have noticed Juventus’ name appearing again this summer as they build a team that is finally capable of winning the Scudetto once more.  So why the sudden revolution this season?

Over the last few years there have been some major changes at the Bianconeri since the dark day that saw them relegated to Serie B because of their part in the match fixing scandal.  In May 2010 they appointed Andrea Agnelli as the club’s new president.  The 36 year old Italian businessman is from Turin and is the fourth member of his family that has run the football club; he has Juve in his blood. During this time they have changed coaches 5 times in 4 years with Claudio Ranieri (2007-2009), Ciro Ferrara (2009-2010), Alberto Zaccheroni (2010) and Luigi Delneri (2010-2011) all unable to bring back past glories and losing their jobs. This summer Agnelli has a made the pivotal appointment of Antonio Conte as new manager.  Conte is Juventus through and through. He played 295 games over 12 years, he is a legend to the Juve faithful, understands the culture of the club and how to make them tick, whilst also understanding what the club and the fans expect.  He is one of the clubs most decorated and influential players winning numerous trophies while playing for them and the fans respect and adore him.  As a manager he has had spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Sienna, winning promotion from Seria B with Bari and Sienna.  He has previously stated that he always wanted the job and now he finally has his chance.

Last season Juventus finished 7th in Serie A, which meant no European football this year but surprisingly this seemingly has not stopped players wanting to play for the club. During the summer they have been very active, signing some high profile players and spending €72.75 million (£65 million) during their latest recruitment drive (bit of money still in the vaults). Already through the door is the highly-rated Montenegro International Mirko Vucinic from Roma, Chilean International Arturo Vidal from Bayer Leverkusen, Swiss Internationals Stepahn Lichsteiner (Lazio) and Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria), along with Italians Fabio Quaglitarella, Michele Pazienza (both Napoli), Siomone Pepe, Marco Motta (both Udinese), Alessandro Matri (Caliari) and a top quality and the classy Andrea Pirlo from AC Milan. They have also been linked with big money moves for star players such as Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal, Michel Bastos of Lyon and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City so don’t be surprised to see more arrivals if the quality it right. The club and president quite clearly mean business and it would seem that they are willing to do and pay whatever it takes them to regain their status in Serie A, before reclaiming Europe. Add the newcomers to the already talented squad that they have which includes Del Piero, Chiellini, Buffon, Grosso, Iaquinta, Grygera and Krasic and you have the makings of a very strong team with a good blend of youth and experience that also has depth. If Conte can gel the team together and get the combination right Juve will be a major force in the coming campaign.

As well as having an ambitious president in Agnelli and legendary new manager in the form of the much loved Conte, for the upcoming season will have a new state of the art Stadium to play in. Juventus moved out of the unpopular Stadio Delle Alpi/comfort castle in 2006 and wanted a stadium where the fans were closer and the atmosphere more electric than ever before. In November 2008, the club unveiled plans for a new 41,000-seater stadium on the site of the Stadio Delle Alpi. The new stadium, built at a cost of €105 million (£92 million), finally removed the running track which the fans hated and features modern facilities such as 120 executive boxes, and 3,600 premium seats. The stands are just 7.5m from the pitch which is a major improvement from the old stadium and will give it much more of an atmosphere. It has all your mod-cons as you would expect; 34,000- mshopping complex, open every day with parking spaces for 4,000 vehicles blah blah blah. More importantly for us football fans, it has a museum dedicated to Juventus’s history, stadium tour here we come! The completion of the Juventus Arena (a temporay name as Sportfive bought the naming rights and have yet to unveil the name) made Juventus the first Italian club to build and own their stadium. They are the also the first major European club to redevelop their ground to make it smaller. The new stadium looks fantastic and it will help Juventus write a new chapter in their already illustrious history. They have recently announced that they will be opening the Juventus Arean or ‘New Stadio Delle Alpi’ on September 8th 2011 with a friendly match against the oldest professional club in the world, Notts County. For 108 years there has been a common thread that bonded Juventus and Notts County. Their relationship goes back to 1903 when a shipment arrived in Turin containing a set of shirts of the English club to replace the pink jerseys used by Juventus since 1897.

Since the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, Juventus have been caught in a perpetual state of reinvention. Nonetheless, expectations are high for the upcoming campaign.  Looking at the manner in which Juventus have played so far in pre-season, it is evident that Agnelli has built a balanced squad with Conte reinstalling the Juve mentality in the players as well as trying to meticulously improve each area, working hard to translate his ideas onto the pitch and improve the synergy within the team.  For now it seems to be working. 

Can Juventus break the strangle hold of the Milan teams to once again lift the Scudetto? It certainly seems they can compete but even if they don’t this season ones things for sure the team with one of the largest fan base in the world are making the right noises, heading in the correct direction and have a superb new stadium to watch it all unfold.

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  1. Kevski says:

    Great piece on the “Old Lady”Rob kudos to you mate,Agnelli has indeed pulled a masterstroke in bringing in Conte,the fact they had changed coach 5 times in 4 years really distabalised the club but now with Conte the fans will relate and be patient with him.As you know Juve are my favorite side in SerieA and i can see them push the Milan clubs for the Scudetto this upcoming season especially as the have no European football this year,but i firmly believe that spanking new stadium will see Champions league football again next season!!Good stuff,Oh one last note,Andrea Pirlo…..Legend and a great signing for “The Old Lady”

  2. Paolo...real name Paul. says:

    I agree great article, I remember when Juve were one of the main contenders for the Champions League with a team filled with Stars like Del Piero, Buffon and Cannavaro when they we in there prime…and Conte. I think there are certain clubs in the world where understanding the history and the culture of the club is very important and Juve are one of these few special clubs throughout the world.

    The only semi-negative for me is the signings, although a lot of talent, still someway off the superstars of their counterparts. More of an Udinese mentality than a big spending mentality, on one hand not spectacular but sensible. Bringing in established domesic players to sure up the team-a bit like what Liverpool are doing in the Premier League, domestic players take less time to settle and i think this will steady the ship for both clubs, they can get European football back and then add to the squad.

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