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Why Juventus could be Jose Mourinho's final chance of salvation

Jose Mourinho could be tempted by a return to Italy with Juventus.
Jose Mourinho could be tempted by a return to Italy with Juventus.
Mark Pitman
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Modified 26 Apr 2021
Feature

Juventus have dominated the Italian game for the last decade, winning nine consecutive Serie A titles since regaining their Scudetto crown in 2011-12. But their era of dominance now appears to be over, and Andrea Pirlo's first season as manager is set to end in domestic failure.

Jose Mourinho is actively searching for his next challenge after getting dismissed by Tottenham Hotspur on the eve of the Carabao Cup final. Despite a strong start to the season, the form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min could no longer hide the cracks that were becoming increasingly apparent as internal unrest spilled out into the public domain.

The resurgence of the two Milan teams

It has been a difficult first season for Andrea Pirlo at Juventus.
It has been a difficult first season for Andrea Pirlo at Juventus.

The managerial inexperience of Andrea Pirlo was expected to be compensated for by the dominance of Juventus.

His learning curve on the job was expected to be supported by the form of a team that made it a habit to succeed in the domestic game. However, a footballing resurgence in Milan has seen Internazionale and AC Milan outshine the Turin giants.

A solitary goal from Matteo Darmian on Sunday was enough to extend Internazionale's lead at the top of Serie A, as Antonio Conte's side claimed a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona at the San Siro. Meanwhile, Juventus could only earn a point in Florence as Álvaro Morata ensured the Bianconeri avoided defeat against Fiorentina.

Antonio Conte is leading Internazionale to the Serie A title.
Antonio Conte is leading Internazionale to the Serie A title.

Unlike Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Conte has more than a decade of top-flight managerial experience. In addition to leading Chelsea to the English Premier League title, he was also responsible for the first three of nine consecutive Serie A titles won by Juventus prior to the appointment of Pirlo, a former midfielder.

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli has shown his ambition over the last week by upsetting most of the football world with his influential role in the controversial European Super League proposal. A key figure behind the initiative, it is clear that he is a pursuer of success at all costs.

Juventus's chase for the Champions League title could endear Jose Mourinho

Andrea Pirlo's appointment was designed to build on the domestic success enjoyed by Juventus and finally achieve the ultimate dream of once again lifting the UEFA Champions League. But the reality was different. I Bianconeri are on the cusp of surrendering their Scudetto after a series of inconsistent performances that have mirrored the frustration of Andrea Pirlo in his touchline demeanour.

Juventus last won the Champions League in 1996 and endured another setback in the competition when they lost to Porto in the Round of 16 this season.

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has lifted the trophy with both Porto and Internazionale, but it has now been over a decade since he last had his hands on the trophy he affectionately refers to as 'the cup with the big ears'.

His success in the competition with Porto in 2004 is the reason for his self-declaration as 'the special one'.

Jose Mourinho achieved great success with Internazionale.
Jose Mourinho achieved great success with Internazionale in Ita.

The Champions League has been an obsession for Jose Mourinho during his career, and it is the competition that provides him the yardstick for success and failure. His achievements cannot be taken away from him. Considering his hunger to win the trophy shared by Juventus, it seems increasingly likely they could come together to achieve their aim in the near future.

The two seasons Jose Mourinho spent in Italy with Internazionale remain two of the best campaigns of his managerial career. In addition to his Champions League success in 2010, he also claimed two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana.

He departed for Real Madrid as a treble winner on the night he once again ruled Europe, but those highs were never repeated again.

How Jose Mourinho upset the rest of Italy

Jose Mourinho has the hunger to continue in club football.
Jose Mourinho has the hunger to continue in club football.

Jose Mourinho was a controversial figure during his time in the Italian city, and he would not have wanted it any other way.

His players bought into his siege mentality that served Jose Mourinho so well during the early years of his managerial career. As the media turned on him, it fuelled Inter's mindset and spurred them to success.

While Jose Mourinho would naturally be drawn to experiencing the German Bundesliga, having already worked in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain, there is a natural magnetism towards a return to Italy, That is because the lows of his latest dismissal only serve to inflate the happy memories of his time in Milan and the success that he enjoyed there.

Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo remains a legendary figure in the Italian game.
Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo remains a legendary figure in the Italian game.

For Juventus to turn to Jose Mourinho would be controversial. Still, their failed experiment with a novice manager in Andrea Pirlo this season could inevitably shift Andrea Agnelli back towards the tried and trusted. Jose Mourinho will know that Juventus have the financial power to return to the top of Serie A, and he may well find career salvation in Turin.

With an established pragmatic tactical philosophy defining Jose Mourinho's teams, his approach is more suited to the traditions of catenaccio that shaped so much of the rich history of Italian football. Flair and attacking creativity is considered more risk than potential reward, so it is no surprise that Jose Mourinho was a good fit for the Italian game.

A big decision awaits Juventus

Andrea Agnelli (left) and the Juventus board have big decisions to make this summer.
Andrea Agnelli (left) and the Juventus board have big decisions to make this summer.

If Andrea Pirlo is to be offered another season to put things right, it could be based on his status as one of the greatest players in the history of the Italian game alone.

While he has a clear mental image of how he wants Juventus to perform, turning his thoughts into a tactical reality has not proved to be a simple transition for an individual genius who played with such effortless brilliance.

With Internazionale on the verge of winning their first Scudetto since Jose Mourinho guided them to the treble in 2010, and more importantly, with Juventus desperately slipping further behind, replacing Andrea Pirlo with his polar opposite right now would appear an attractive proposition.

Jose Mourinho is ready and waiting for Andrea Agnelli to make his move.

Published 25 Apr 2021
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