Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fair Weather? Me?

A few weeks ago, upon reading that Juventus was considering offers for our tiny trequartista Sebastian Giovinco, I became incensed to the point of nearly breaking my 12-year bond with Juventus. I wrote in my Facebook status that if Giovinco was sold, I would cease to be a Juventus supporter. I was immediately set upon by those that know me relatively well, receiving messages and Wall posts challenging my promise and alleging that I would "never stop supporting Juventus".

Well, you're right. But I think my 12 year fealty has earned me the right to get really really angry about the poor decisions the members of the Juventus upper management (specifically Alessio Secco) have made. Secco, the new sporting director drafted in after Luciano Moggi's ban due to the Calciopoli scandal, has thus far proven himself to be a transfer genius. After masterminding the signings of Jean-Alain Boumsong, Tiago Mendes and the brown Mr. Clean, Sergio Almiron, for the not-so-tiny total fee of around €27m, he proceeded to nearly offload our best defender, Giorgio Chiellini last summer. In addition to the purchase of the three all-stars listed above, Secco continued his effective attempt at ruining the future of the club by selling the very promising young stars Antonio Nocerino to Palermo, Raffaelle Palladino and Domenico Criscito to Genoa on co-ownership deals, and the increasingly appetizing Davide Lanzafame was shipped out, presumably on loan or a co-ownership deal. As if reading the collective thoughts of Juve supporters who felt "well, he can't do any worse", Secco brought in the much-maligned Momo Sissoko and later signed Amauri for €24m. Recently, Christian Poulsen and Olof Mellberg were brought into the fold, as well as the return of our brilliant baby-face Sebastian Giovinco, who was welcomed back after demonstrations by Juve fans assured his return to the club. Although Sissoko has now won over many Bianconeri supporters (not including myself), and Amauri is a quality player, the question remains for many of us: Why????

For the last couple years, the problem areas for Juventus have been in the centre of midfield and in the back. The departures of Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram left a gap that was admirably filled by Nicola Legrottaglie and the switch of Chiellini from left back to the centre. However, as well as Legrottaglie has done, I do not feel he has the required quality to stand up to the rigors of continental play in the Champions League, nor for Juve to mount a title challenge against the likes of Inter Milan, A.C. Milan and Roma. In addition, there was a certain amount of technical ability lacking in the middle of the park, as Cristiano Zanetti and Momo Sissoko, battlers that they are, do not excite the imagination. For many Bianconeros, the transfer policy seemed simple: buy a quality defender centre midfielder. In the months leading up to the summer transfer window such names as Rafael van der Vaart, Diego Ribas da Cunha (or simply Diego), Xabi Alonso and a few others were thrown around, exciting the hopes of supporters. When it came time to put pen to paper however, we ended up with... Christian Poulsen. A few weeks later van der Vaart was signed by Real Madrid for the very reasonable fee of around €15m, while Diego remains languishing in the German league waiting for a big club to take his hand and lead him out of the wilderness. Negotiations between Liverpool and Juventus broke down for Xabi Alonso, with a reported €2 or €3m being the difference.


In my opinion, the €24m spent on the prolific Amauri could have been spent on what Juve really needed this year. Although Amauri is a great player, the Juventus strikeforce was not lacking in quality. Already boasting Trezeguet, Del Piero and Iaquinta, the young Palladino could have been given a chance to flex his growing muscles and learn from the greats already there.

Although the transfer department has been abysmal of late, things are looking up. With whispers of the recruitment of the Argentinian midfield general Lucho Gonzalez, and possibly the Uruguayan centre-back Diego Lugano, things might be looking up. If not, I'll wear my Juve jerseys more than ever and take the abuse that will invariably come showering down upon me.

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