(Reuters) – Massimiliano Allegri seemed like the perfect man to restore faltering Juventus to former glories when he returned for a second spell as coach, but 12 months on from his homecoming there are few signs of a revival.
Juve’s defeat by Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia final means Serie A’s most successful side, who are fourth in standings and out of title contention, will finish a season trophyless for the first time since 2010-11.
Allegri, who won five Serie A crowns in a row during his first spell in Turin between 2014 and 2019, struggled in Europe too, with Juve having been knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the third season in a row.
This was not how it was supposed to happen. Juventus went for a club icon in Andrea Pirlo as their coach for the 2020-21 season as they chased a 10th successive Scudetto, and a more adventurous style of football.
Pirlo was fired after a meek title defence in which Juve finished fourth, a position deemed intolerable for a club of their stature.
Two defeats in finals to Inter – the Suppercoppa and Coppa Italia – and another fourth-placed finish in Serie A on the cards given Juve trail Napoli in third by four points with two games remaining, mean the jury is still out on Allegri mark two.
Allegri has insisted he has no regrets about returning, but having received much criticism in the Italian media and from former players over his negative tactics, the cracks are showing.
As Inter overwhelmed Juve in extra time on Wednesday thanks to Croatian forward Ivan Perisic’s double, Allegri was sent to the stands by the referee for his overzealous protestations.
It was not the first time this season either. On this occasion, Allegri had to be held back by his own staff as he clashed with a member of Inter’s bench, but he has also been publicly critical of his own players during the campaign.
“Someone from Inter walked past and kicked me,” Allegri told Sport Mediaset. “I got angry and quite rightly the referee sent me off.
“Finding out what happened changes nothing. We learn from these experiences. It’s a pity, because we didn’t get the win against Inter in Serie A and did not take our revenge this evening either.
“We do not win a single trophy this season, we have to retain that anger for next season, when we must get back to winning.”
Allegri looks likely to get another chance to get Juve back challenging for the Scudetto next term. With both Milan clubs looking strong, a huge close season awaits for the coach to reshape his squad.
(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond)