What influence could Andrea Pirlo have as Juventus head coach?
Former midfield maestro to take charge of Cristiano Ronaldo and co.
Just 24 hours after Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League by Lyon, Maurizio Sarri’s one-year tenure as head coach came to an end.
His replacement was confirmed within a further 24 hours, with former Juve midfielder Andrea Pirlo appointed head coach on a two-year deal.
The former World Cup winner had been due to start his coaching career at Juventus U23s in Serie C. But nine days after he was confirmed as the reserve team head coach, he was appointed first team head coach instead.
With another former professional stepping into the hot seat of his former club, following in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid and more, we look at what Pirlo could bring to the Serie A giants.
Wealth of Juventus experience
Despite only spending four seasons in Turin as a player, you could argue that Pirlo enjoyed the best spell of his career in the famous black and white of Juventus.
He was brought to the club by Antonio Conte, who was considered a risk when first appointed, much like Pirlo.
But in those four seasons, Pirlo helped Juve to begin their dominance in Serie A, winning four titles in a row, while also claiming two Supercoppa Italiana winners’ medals and the 2014/15 Coppa Italia.
Under Conte, Pirlo learnt what it meant to win for Juventus, and gained a comprehensive understanding of what the club meant to the city of Turin, and their fans who are passionately devoted to the club.
The club now have one of the greatest players of all time on their books, with Cristiano Ronaldo thoroughly enjoying his time in Turin, and Pirlo will hope to instil all he learnt about the club in to Ronaldo in the latter stages of his career too.
During his unveiling as Juventus’ U23 coach in July, Pirlo explained that he wants everyone in the club, young and old, to understand the Juventus mentality, considering it as important as on-field tactics.
Free-flowing attacking football
It’s the style of football that Juventus were synonymous for while Conte was at the helm, but throughout their recent years, they’ve lost that identity.
Pirlo has previously revealed that he favours a 4-3-3 formation, with lots of attacking play, everyone going forward and lots of possession.
He added that it depends on the players, but with the likes of Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala up front, Adrien Rabiot and summer signing Arthur in midfield, plus comfortable ball playing centre backs like Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini, it’s expected he could get them playing the way he wants.
Of course, there’s still the opportunity for Pirlo to add his stamp to the squad too throughout the transfer window, and it’s the centre of the park that he could look to bulk out the most.
There have been plenty of names linked in recent months, including the likes of Paul Pogba, who Pirlo helped nurture into the player he is today, and Jorginho, who has a very similar style of play in the same position as Pirlo took up at Juventus.
Pirlo’s plan for the U23’s was to play ‘ball to feet’ football, and ‘always going for the victory’ while ‘occupying the space and working with the characteristics of the players’. Are these what he could implement within the first team too?
A serial winner
His spell at Juventus wasn’t the only trophy-ridden stage of his career. In fact, he’s tasted success throughout, with his first trophy coming during his breakout season with Brescia in 1997, collecting the Serie B title.
But it was during his decade at AC Milan that Pirlo really got a taste for winning, both domestically and in cup competitions.
At Milan, Pirlo won his first two Serie A titles, while also getting his first experience of winning the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana. But most importantly, he helped AC Milan to climb back on their perch, regaining their status as one of the giants of European football.
Pirlo’s Milan competed in three UEFA Champions League finals, winning twice in 2002/03 and 2006/07, while falling agonisingly short in Istanbul against Liverpool in the 2004/05 season.
They’d go on to taste success in the highest level of club cup competitions too, winning the FIFA Club World Cup in 2017.
During his international career too, he was an instrumental part of the Italian side that went all the way to victory in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, before narrowly missing out to Spain in UEFA Euro 2012.
With his knowledge of the club, a plan in place for how he’d like to see his side play and his natural winning instinct, could we see Pirlo continue the Old Lady’s dominance of Italian football while winning their first Champions League title since 1996?
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