Wielding the Max: Fallen giants Juventus run back to old boss Allegri as axed legend Pirlo claims calamity season was ‘wonderful’
In an extraordinary few hours following a campaign in which the Italian giants failed to win the Serie A title for the first time in ten seasons, rookie coach Pirlo made an emotional statement to coincide with the club's announcement of his departure before Allegri, who was ousted at the end of the 2018/19 term, was ushered back under the hashtag 'Allegri in'.
If few would have been susprised by the dismissal of Pirlo – the wild celebrations at finishing fourth in the Juventus dressing room following the season finale last week evidenced how low expectations had fallen by the end of his first season in charge – the abruptness with which old flame Allegri has been reappointed is a seismic plot twist even by the dramatic standards of the club's hierarchy.
Allegri has been out of work since winning his fifth successive league title with Juve in his final season in charge. The 53-year-old reportedly reached an agreement with club president Andrea Agnelli after losing patience with Real Madrid, who are said to have been keen for him to replace the departed Zinedine Zidana, and Inter Milan, who did not contact him but were thought to have been interested in Allegri following the resignation of Antonio Conte.
While Allegri returns on a reported annual salary of around $11 million on an initial three-year deal, the swift abandonment of project Pirlo brings a painful end to the short reign of one of the most decorated players in Italian history.
Massimiliano Allegri’s first spell at Juventus (five years):▪️ 5/5 Serie A titles▪️ 4/5 Coppas Italia▪️ 2 Champions League finalsAnd now he’s back. ⚪⚫ pic.twitter.com/mpuw5MrkqV— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 28, 2021
Allegri was thought to have been sacked because of a perceived lack of progress in the Champions League after Juventus exited to an outstanding Ajax side in the quarter-finals in his final season in charge.
Pirlo had been expected to take Juventus beyond the round-of-16 finish that did for Allegri's replacement, Maurizio Sarri, only for Juventus to crash out at the first knockout stage again this year courtesy of a tactically naive performance against an unheralded, gritty Porto side.
Worse still, Juventus relied on Napoli dropping points on the final day of the season to squeeze into the final qualifying position for the ever-lucrative Champions League, having looked set for a Europa League place during a perilous final few months of Pirlo's tenure.
Despite being almost unanimously perceived to have presided over a period of impressive underachievement, Pirlo claimed that he had met expectations, perhaps referring to the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana victories he oversaw with Ronaldo – the league's highest earner and top scorer – at his behest.
They guy lead us for three years and he never won single CL and you brought hom back for what? What did he provide for us so we can want him so badly and bring him back? We lost another CL again 🤦♂️— Nothing is as it seems (@I1889I) May 28, 2021
Actually he coached juve for 5 years and had the highest percentage of wins in seria a than any other coach ever. Also he lost in two CL finals against super teams in that moment ( real in their best season in last 10 years, barca winning treble that season )— Nikola Mihajlović (@NikolaM32055962) May 28, 2021
"It has been an intense, complicated but in any case wonderful year," the 2006 World Cup winner wrote on Instagram, insisting he had no regrets.
"When I was called by Juventus, I never thought about the risk I was running, although it was quite evident. Respect for the colors of this shirt and the desire to get involved at the highest levels for the project that was proposed to me prevailed.
"If I had to go back, I would make exactly the same choice, although I am aware of all the obstacles I encountered related to such a difficult period for everyone, which prevented me from planning my intentions and my style of play in the best possible way.
"During [this period], however, I have achieved the objectives that were asked of me. This adventure, despite an ending that I did not expect, made it even clearer what I would like my future to be, which I hope is as complete and full of satisfactions as those I experienced as a footballer."Also on rt.com Juventus to SACK Pirlo as Allegri poised to return in third managerial change in three seasons at ailing Turin giants – reports
Juventus officially thanked Pirlo, although his comments immediately after the season ended, when he spoke about how much he had learned and his desire to commit to the club for longer, make it clear that the decision was far from mutual.
"It's time to get back in the game and face new challenges," he added. "However, I want to thank the Juventus family and all those who have been close to me this season."Also on rt.com Gone-aldo? Cristiano Ronaldo ‘tells Juventus teammates he wants to leave this summer’ – reports