Monday, July 25, 2016

Much Ado About Juve


With the extraordinary transfer market that Juve have meticulously pulled off this summer, a lot of people are complaining about Juventus. The typical childish taunts of cheating, doping, and more are being hurled around ignorantly by rival fans. And the animosity grows toward a club that has won five consecutive Scudetti, and now look completely unstoppable. Is it fair? Your knee-jerk reaction is no. But when you look at what they have overcome, how hard they have worked and suffered, it’s absolutely justified. And instead of being jealous, rivals should be taking notes and doing their best to narrow the gap. All of this hatred is really much ado about Juve.

Success risen from the ashes

Ten years ago, Juventus were unfairly relegated to Serie B in the Calciopoli scandal. If you haven’t read the newer evidence and transcripts from court hearings, you’ve missed the whole part where Inter miraculously managed to have their own phone recordings overlooked and thus went unpunished in the scandal which was absolutely aided if not orchestrated by them. Yet they took down their biggest rival, then saw themselves awarded a Scudetto that was rightfully Juventus’, punished many of their other rivals (including Milan,) and basically crippled all of Serie A. Just like the infamous doping charges from the 1990’s which were never proven to be true, Juventus was punished with relegation despite never having been found guilty of violating Article 6, the only charge that should have seen them relegated. (And don’t forget the evidence showed that Milan and Inter should have been relegated.) This fairy tale that they own the refs has more truth in all of the other clubs involved with Calciopoli, including Milan, than it does with Juve.

Meanwhile, Inter capitalized on the scandal, taking Ibra from Juve as a direct result of the sentencing, amongst others, and in addition to claiming their paper Scudetto, went on to “win” the treble just three short years later. Try for a second to imagine what it would like to be Juventus, falsely relegated, two titles stripped, and those filthy snakes boasting not only that they’re now the only team that has never been relegated, but that they had somehow managed to “win” the treble. What would you do? What would Milan have done?

Andrea Agnelli of the legendary Agnelli family; Pavel Nedved, a club legend; and Giuseppe Marotta getting everything right

Well, despite being unable to reverse the injustice of their own relegation, not to mention the credibility of the whole league, Juventus pursued every legal route to try to set the record straight as best as they could, and still are, actually. But at the same time, they set a careful course for not just a comeback, but success. Long-term success. It took time. It took patience. It took planning. It took building a stadium, something that other clubs struggle to do. But today, ten years after the injustice of Calciopoli, they stand ready to absolutely decimate the league, the Coppa Italia, and also with their best chances in a long time to win the Champions League, too.

If you tell me that you think that they cheated, that this is not fair, or whatever, my opinion of you will plummet to Neanderthal levels. So lose the childish taunting, this is real. They have suffered, been wrongfully punished, struggled for years to get back to the top, and they have done everything right. They made sacrifices early on to plan and build their stadium. They have stayed within FFP guidelines, unlike other clubs (coughRomacoughIntercough). They had a transfer budget every year and they stayed within it. But they bought carefully and bought well, and their success is absolutely attributed to both impeccable management and hard work on the pitch. I’ll give you that they totally did Del Piero wrong, but if anything, that hurt them, not helped them. And now they've built a squad that not even Allegri can take down. It's actually quite impressive.

While Juve were rising from the ashes, these clowns were sleeping with underage women and singing karaoke with Preziosi

This bizarre concept of a team being managed well is not entirely foreign to Serie A. Sassuolo have also done amazing things since promotion three short years ago with a fraction of the budget that the big clubs have, finishing an incredible 6th last season. But again, they have carefully used the funds they have and have bought or loaned both prudently and well. Compare Sassuolo and Juve to the attention-starved, eccentric/crazy, megalomaniac Serie A owners like De Laurentis (Napoli), Zamparini (Palermo), Lotito (Lazio), Ferrero (Sampdoria), Preziosi (Genoa), and Berlusconi. They are more concerned with their own sound bites, their own agendas, whether political or otherwise, than they are with running their clubs well and achieving success. Or even just complaining about Juve instead of copying their game plan. How many times have we seen the lack of morals of both Berlusconi and Galliani alone impact our club? (i.e. Galliani’s involvement in Calciopoli.) None of these clubs have the consistent investment (no matter how small) that is carefully spent, purchasing the best players for their team instead of what their friend’s team has to offer or what they can get on a free transfer or who they wanted to sign ten years ago. None of those owners can get their own stadium built, or are even really trying.

So is it really Juve that we should be blaming for the incredibly ridiculous disparity between them and all of the other teams? Try looking at the other clubs. Not only are Milan awaiting desperate news of a club sale, we have been drowning in mismanagement for decades. Sure, we won a bunch of trophies back in the day… the days before FFP and general accountability, before Berlusconi lost power and started losing his legal battles, before the financial crisis in Italy, and more. Those trophies were basically bought. We can’t hate Juve for doing something right. Our hatred should be towards our own management, against those douchebags Inter, and all of the other clubs who have not done things right and who have run the league into the ground.

Allegri: trolling Milan since 2010

I mean it’s fine to hate Juventus on gameday, it’s fine to be insanely jealous of what they’ve accomplished. But don’t ever come here and accuse them of cheating, doping, or buying refs, because you will look like a huge douchebag and I will laugh at you hysterically. They have suffered and worked and sacrificed to get where they are now. With a bench that is better than any other starting lineup in Serie A. Five consecutive Scudetti and who knows how many more on the way. The opportunity to dominate even perhaps in the Champions League. They have earned their way to be able to purchase all of the players. They have earned their amazing stadium and all that it has brought to them. The Agnelli family have been shrewd and kept their eyes on the prize instead of looking for the next microphone in their face or complaining about how much money they don’t have. They did all of this during Italy’s financial crisis. The same crisis everyone else continues to use as a scapegoat for their own mismanagement. If any one team can justifiably claim that the league has been hurt by Calciopoli, it is Juve. All of this complaining about Juventus’ apocalyptic mercato is being aimed at all the wrong places. If you don’t like how dominant they’ve become, look at all of the teams that didn’t do all the right things. Everything else is just much ado about nothing.

If Milan does anything noteworthy… or anything at all… I will write about them again… maybe.


This post inspired by the music of The Last of the Shadow Puppets’ “Bad Habits”


Our next match is a friendly
International Champions Cup
FC Bayern vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, July 27 • 9:00pm EDT